The Buller District Council and Tai Poutini Polytechnic (TPP) have released papers outlining a partnership that will work with conservation employers to develop a Westport-based conservation learning and employment hub.
Buller District Mayor, Jamie Cleine (pictured) says the hub is a first step in realising a key mission within the Tai Poutini West Coast 2050 economic development strategy to strengthen and diversify the West Coast through the development of a niche economy that develops, incubates, and shares knowledge on conservation and biodiversity restoration.
“The hub will deliver training and education that is deliberately designed to meet the needs of the community and its local employers and prepares the Buller District for a future with growing conservation and biodiversity restoration sector activity,” said Mayor Cleine.
Tai Poutini Polytechnic Chief Executive, Alex Cabrera says Tai Poutini Polytechnic will leverage off the power of the Te Pūkenga network to support conservation activity on the West Coast. This has been possible because of governments reform of the Vocational sector, he said.
“Meeting the needs of the West Coast, supporting mana whenua aspirations, removing barriers for learners, and providing better access to education and pathways to employment is all part of our job at Tai Poutini Polytechnic and the Te Pūkenga network.”
“The hub is a great example of how the Te Pūkenga network and Buller District Council, and employers can work together to meet regional needs. This is particularly important to support isolated and dispersed regions,” said Mr Cabrera.
In conjunction, a flagship restoration project will be established to engage learners, as well as potential sponsors and funders, and demonstrate conservation and restoration mahi in tangible ways.
Council says the location for the restoration project will be confirmed during April by a working group. The group is made up of members from Tai Poutini Polytechnic, the Department of Conservation (DOC), and the Buller District Council supported by the Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance. Possible funding opportunities to support this project are being assessed, it said.
The initiatives form part of Council’s Environmental Improvement and Prosperity Strategy (EIPS) which has been created to flow on from council’s economic development activities over the last two-years.
Council says the next step in realising the full potential of the EIPS is to undertake a scoping study specifically for the Buller District, led by the Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance, of which the Council, DOC and Ngāti Waewae are active members. The outcomes from this will be to embed a more prosperous and resilient local future, identifying opportunities within Buller to progress solutions that benefit both people and nature.
During its Long Term Plan community consultation process Mayor Cleine says the community confirmed the importance of addressing climate change and sustainability.
“The EIPS has been developed with community wishes in mind and with an eye to the future,” he said.