Significant investment to prevent Raukūmara forest collapse

By Mahina Hurkmans

Te Whānau-ā-Apanui and Ngāti Porou have welcomed today's funding announcement for the establishment of the Raukūmara Pae Maunga restoration project.

The iwi-Crown approach programme to restore the Raukūmara forest on the East Coast of the North Island will also boost employment opportunities for whānau, particularly rangatahi.

The Raukūmara needs urgent attention after being simultaneously attacked by possums, deer, goats, rats and stoats. These pests and predators have destroyed the canopy and understory of the ngāhere/forest, and have attacked threatened species to the point of local extinction.

“He hononga whakapapa, he hononga taiao tenei pae maunga mo nga uri o Te Whānau-ā-Apanui me Ngāti Porou” said Rikirangi Gage, CEO of Te Rūnanga o Te Whānau. “Both Te Whānau ā Apanui and Ngāti Porou acknowledge the large team of people who have gotten us here today and our intentions as iwi to work together, to achieve our aspirations mo nga uri whakatipu (for future generations). Our pae maunga has been calling to us - and today the minister’s announcement and the support of Jobs for Nature acknowledges that call for us as descendants o te Raukūmara pae maunga.”

Iho matua

Today at Maraenui marae, Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage committed $34 million over four years for Te Whānau ā Apanui, Ngāti Porou and Te Papa Atawhai Department of Conservation (DoC) to work together on Raukūmara Pae Maunga, one of the least developed or visited tracts of bush in Te-Ikaa-Maui.

“This is about both of our iwi and tikanga integral to us and our whenua; kia rongo te whenua ki ona ake uri, kia mohio te tangata ki tenei whenua” said Rei Kohere, Deputy Chair of Te Rūnanganui o Ngāti Porou.

“Te Whānau-ā-Apanui and Ngāti Porou deserve thanks for their efforts to raise public awareness about the state of the Raukūmara and the need to protect these magnificent forests. They have developed this project to do just that alongside Te Papa Atawhai,” Sage said.

Raukūmara is described by tangata whenua as their iho matua (umbilical cord, connection) to Papatūānuku. If the Raukūmara is sick, the connection of the people to the earth is compromised.

"Research has shown our beloved Raukūmara is on the brink of collapse" said Rei Kohere. "In just two generations we are now facing a catastrophic loss of biodiversity in Raukūmara. Our ngahere is being destroyed from the inside, our pae maunga is mauiui and our iwi are disconnected from our whenua."

The aim of the Raukūmara Pae Maunga restoration project is to reduce deer, possum, rat and stoat presence to levels required for species and habitat recovery. The whānau and hapū who surround Raukūmara Pae Maunga will be integral to the project’s success.

The Raukūmara Pae Maunga project has been co-developed by the two iwi in collaboration with DoC over the past three years. The project has also been supported by Ngā Whenua Rahui, Kiwis for Kiwi, Forest and Bird and NIWA.