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Pūkaha plans new $4 million educational facility

Mount Bruce, Masterton: Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre is embarking on a new and significant development, the Pūkaha Environment and Ecology Programme: Te Wānanga Taiao. This is a major leverage of the current investment made in the Reserve by the Community, Iwi and the Crown over many years. The project is being driven by the Pūkaha board and was chosen from a number of concepts for its ability to deliver strategically and meet social, financial and environmental goals.

The new and expanded Pūkaha Environment and Ecology Programme will deliver:
the Pūkaha Environment and Ecology Wānanga - the home to applied learning and training that incorporates mātauranga Māori principles, being: hands-on, and science-informed. It will enable Pūkaha to host more Bio-diversity research, and help increase awareness of climate change issues
overnight accommodation for 40 people, for use by schools, community groups, iwi and private / business groups
7-10 motorhome sites and related facilities
a nocturnal boardwalk that provides safe and environmentally sustainable access to night-time guided native forest experiences
hospitality and ecology-based training and employment
environmental education programmes for schools and ecology study and facilities for tertiary students

Bob Francis, Board Chairman, feels the programme will take Pūkaha to a whole new level and connect larger audiences with environmental conservancy. “This is a project that will reach and engage more deeply and widely with local, national and international communities. The timing is incredibly important for Pūkaha given our history of preserving native species and the increasing threats that they are facing from current climatic and environmental challenges. The programme will enable youth education to become a major focus ensuring the protection of our flora, fauna and cultural traditions for future generations”.

The full cost of the programme and related new facilities is expected to be around $4 million and funding is being sought from a number of sources. This will deliver significant economic and social benefits for the region including, increased visitors, greater educational opportunities, employment training relevant to regional needs, new jobs, and new bespoke accommodation.

Upon completion, public access to Pūkaha would greatly increase through extended day and night operating hours.

Silverwood Architects have completed the concept plans and Rangitāne carvers are prepared and ready to start on five key ‘Pou’ that will be integral to the wānanga facility. These will welcome all manuhiri and represent the significant Atua (gods) of the forest ‘Te Tapere Nui ō Whātonga’ (The Great Domain of Whātonga).

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