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New roles to help restore the biodiversity of Te Māhia peni

Three cadets were welcomed by Rongomaiwahine iwi at a pōwhiri at Tuahuru Marae in Te Māhia yesterday, to mark the beginning of their work towards a predator-free Te Māhia.

The positions, funded by the Whakatipu Mahia – Predator Free Mahia project, are development roles that have been created to support possum eradication on the peninsula and build iwi capability along with broader ecological and social goals.

Rongomaiwahine iwi and the local farming community are vital to the success of the project, and the plan is for local hāpū and iwi to take the lead in future.

Moana Rongo, Chairperson of the Rongomaiwahine Iwi Trust, says “The new roles are a further realisation of our responsibility we have as Tangata Whenua being Kaitiaki of our Rohe Whenua and Rohe Moana. Toi tū te whenua, toi tū te moana, toi tū te iwi tangata.”

The cadet roles – one coordinator role and two predator control roles – will be building the local connections and knowledge needed for this to happen.

One of the predator control cadets will train in Te Māhia, but will later work in northern Hawke’s Bay, in areas important to the hapū represented by Maungaharuru-Tangitū Trust.

Maungaharuru-Tangitū Trustee Tania Hopmans says, “Our traditional area from north of the Waikari River to south of Te Wai-o-Hingānga (the Esk River) has been overrun by pests such as feral cats, possums and mustelids. As a result, our prized, native species have been decimated.”

“Effective predator control will provide a safe home in the future for our native species to return and flourish. This is a key goal for our hapū and the wider community. We are thrilled to have one of our whānau from Tangoio Marae, Michaela King, as our first cadette. Michaela will learn valuable skills in Te Māhia alongside our relations Rongomaiwahine, and will help lead the restoration of our Taiao (environment) closer to home.”

Day to day, the cadets will be out on the land, trapping with Whakatipu Mahia’s possum and pest eradication teams. Over time, they will get to know the land and the people, helping to realise the project’s overall vision of restoring the mauri and ecology of Te Māhia peninsula.

For now, it’s all about pest eradication and working to meet Whakatipu Mahia’s goal of wiping out possums from 14,500 hectares of land on Mahia Peninsula in four years. Trapping will begin soon and the full possum eradication and predator suppression trap network is expected to be completed by 2021.

The knowledge gained in Te Māhia will be used to develop a low-cost farmland control and eradication model applicable to other parts of Hawke’s Bay and New Zealand.


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