Te Kaitiaki ō Taiao has received a Rotorua Trust grant of $29,854 for the third stage of Project Whakahaumanu.
The project is part of the Government’s Jobs for Nature funding scheme which has helped keep the workforce employed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The project redeployed workers from local business Kaitiaki Adventures to keep them in employment with the COVID response fund during the pandemic.
Kaitiaki Adventures Managing Director Jason Wright says the project is a partnership initiative between Kaitiaki Adventures and local iwi, with a goal to restore five wetlands and restore the land to its pre-1950s state.
So far the workers have helped with removing weeds, eliminating predator species and planting native plants.
The third stage of the project involves protecting sacred sites with fencing and earthworks to enable public access.
“We have planted about 7500 native trees so far and our goal is to plant 22,500. We have tamariki and volunteers helping out, and Whangamarino School have students who do propagation and planting for the project every Friday,” Wright says.
“Last year, Jacinda Ardern joined Whangamarino students in planting a native fern at the site.”
Wright says the funding received from Rotorua Trust allowed them to condense stage two and three, bringing parts of stage three forward.
“We have been working through stage two for just over a year now and hope to complete stage three mid-2023. Stage three involves fencing which is expected to begin two weeks after Easter, so we are on track.”
Wright says the project has provided jobs for 12 staff from Kaitiaki Adventures, allowing the company to retain its employees through COVID.
Rotorua Trust Chairman Stewart Edward says the project has served an important purpose – keeping people in employment and bringing the community together to restore the whenua.
“The community has been supportive of this project – even at the earlier stages. Upon completion, we will be able to show the world how people can exist within a place of natural wonder and beauty.”