Te Arawa working group to focus on climate change

A new working group has been set up to help Te Arawa iwi and hapū to take part on the fight against climate change.

The group has been established following feedback from iwi and hapū and aims to ensure tangata whenua are leading the discussions about what can be done on a local level.

Te Arawa Lakes Trust environment manager Nicki Douglas says while the issue can be overwhelming, there are things that can be done locally to help communities prepare for the changes and undertake day-to-day prevention measures.

Ms Douglas says the group will focus on both preparedness for the flow on effects of climate change, as well as what day-to-day activities can be done to make a difference to reduce the effects of climate change.

“It’s about getting a group of interested people together with expertise in this area to look at what this might mean for Te Arawa and our environment. We are already seeing some of our community living with some of the impacts, such as the increased water levels in the lakes due to high rainfall.”

Ms Douglas says she was surprised at the level of concern expressed around the impact on the economic base, on industries such as horticulture and agriculture.  She says the interest is twofold – the connection to whakapapa means people understand the need to protect the environment for the coming generations, as well as the desire for people to ensure food and water security.

“It’s about getting a group of interested people together to work out what this means for Te Arawa. There are things that will work for us if we can come together and agree on how to best support Te Arawa moving forward.”

Ms Douglas believes it is crucial to consider issues like climate changes through a cultural lens.

“It’s in our history to respond to environmental changes and look for alternative pathways.  Look at the Mt Tarawera eruption. We have a history of being adaptable and moving forward.

“We also are very innovative. Often iwi Māori are at the front of new technology and innovation and this is a real opportunity to show that.

“Those are our lakes, this is our place. If anyone should describe how they look in the future it should be us. That’s quite motivating for people.”

Ms Douglas says a core group has already put their hand up to be involved with the working group, but they’d like to hear from anyone else interested in taking part.

Those interested in getting involved can contact Ms Douglas directly at nicki@tearawa.iwi.nz