A Government-backed environmentally focused employment programme has created 10 new jobs in Dannevirke and is looking to become a key labour source for the region in the future, Minister of Conservation Kiri Allan says.
Ngā Manu Taiao o Tāmaki nui-a-Rua has been established by Ngāti Kahungunu ki Tāmaki nui-a-Rua (NKKTNAR) to undertake weed management, fencing, riparian planting, and pest control on Awakura Scenic Reserve, home to a significant stand of black beech and habitat to a vast amount of birdlife.
“A Jobs for Nature investment of $1.78 million, enables Ngāti Kahungunu to create a professional training programme that will benefit their people and the Tararua District,” Minister Allan said.
“It gives whānau the opportunity to increase their capability and knowledge of the natural environment. At the same time, the iwi aims to establish a long-term contracting team within the region, providing a key labour source for agencies and landowners across the Tararua, Manawatu, Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay districts.”
The Ngā Manu Taiao team will be studying towards a number of tertiary qualifications over the next three years, starting with a twenty-week certificate in Environmental Science, she said. They will also attend weekly Te Reo classes.
“In addition, the newly established team will complete a range of primary industry training courses including first aid, fencing, chainsaw and quad bike skills, pest management, application of agrichemicals and scrub cutting.”
“These skills will be applied practically at Awakura, starting with reinstating tracks for access and pest control to reduce the number of pigs, deer, goats, possums and stoats.
“Over time the programme will transition into a sustainable business, focused on reversing the environmental degradation throughout the Tararua/Manawatu/Wairarapa and Hawke Bay regions,” the Minister said.
Project Manager, Hayden Hape said it was also about putting good people in jobs. Five members of the programme were previously unemployed.
“Our people have always had the passion to do this type of work. Some of them have done voluntary conservation work in the past, but they have never been given the opportunity in a paid role,” he said.
“There’s not many places left like Awakura in the country. We want to enable our people to reconnect with the land as kaitiaki so they can nurture and restore this taonga to its former self.
“This will be our biggest achievement in the Tararua District, and we’re going to whack it out of the park. Then we’ll be ready to share our little slice of paradise with rest of the community.”