When Whaia Tītīrangi operational leader Jordan Tibble thinks about her work on the maunga, it is with a long term vision. “When I am 65 I want to come back and walk through the ngahere (forests) we have planted and see all our manu (birds) thriving in their new home,” says Jordan Tibble.
Tītīrangi (Kaiti Hill) resonates with so many across Tairāwhiti for all sorts of reasons – history, connection, fitness and more – so when the programme was announced as part of one of five projects identified in the Tairāwhiti Economic Support Package Redeployment Programme’s $23.755m package she and others rejoiced. Suddenly their team of three is expanding to 17. Jordan Tibble and Whaia Tītīrangi project manager Ranell Nikora are bubbling with excitement as to what this means for the programme they are both so passionate about.
“Our job is not to be here forever but to make it possible to continue the mantle,” says Nikora. The programme, a collaborative effort between Ngāti Oneone and Gisborne District Council, has been running two years with a primary focus on community engagement and conservation education.
Their work is visible to all who walk, run or visit the maunga. They have hands-on support from organisations, schools and individuals but the magnitude of the work makes it tricky to stay ahead.
“It can’t be underestimated what it means to have this extra help through the Redeployment Programme,” says Nikora.
When the first six of the workers started this week, Jordan took them for a walk telling the stories of the maunga, giving an insight to the plantings, the trees and more.
“It is hard to explain when you are standing at Te Poho-o-Rāwiri (Marae) but when you get out into the trees and ngahere (bush) all the stories just come to you,” says Tibble. “You get carried away. Today they were all wide-eyed and ready to burst with questions.”
They are reactions she understands only too well. Their involvement in the Redeployment Programme means so much more can be accomplished.
“We can hit different areas all over the maunga. Everything is a cycle and usually, you can only do so much but this means we can do all areas and accomplish more.”
Those who have come onto the team through the Redeployment Programme were chosen for their skill sets and development potential. The 17 workers have a staggered start over the next few weeks. “As unique as our programme is, each of them brings a unique addition to our team,” says Tibble.
The Tītīrangi component of the Redeployment Programme runs for 12 weeks.
“This is an opportunity for us to share more of what we do . . . to ignite the passion and share the joy of our maunga. We love sharing the maunga. Everyone can find their passion here and there is such mana in the work.”
Around 70,000 trees have already been planted on Tītīrangi with another 10,000 set to go in this year under the Redeployment Programme. There are plans also to clear new areas and prepare sites for future planting. The seaward side of the maunga is also set for some attention.
The Redeployment Programme is in response to the impacts of COVID-19, and while initially aimed to assist displaced forestry workers, has now been broadened.
The programme encompasses five key projects and aims to provide work and training for up to 200 people.
At the very heart of each are the displaced workers who will have meaningful employment with the opportunity for training, new qualifications, additional skills and the possibility of long term jobs.
The Tītīrangi component is part of a wider environmental project across the rohe including parks and coastal areas.