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  • Writer's pictureTim Higham

Tū Mai Taonga workers receive mana whenua blessing

Updated: May 16, 2023

A Pōwhiri at Kawa Marae and a Karanga at the start of the Burrill Route on Monday morning have enabled field workers for the Tū Mai Taonga project to start operations in Te Paparahi.

Ngāti Rehua Ngātiwai ki Aotea’s Taumata, the kaumatua or elders group from the island’s hapū, welcomed those working on the project onto the marae and whenua.

Opo Ngawaka, Chair of the Project Steering Committee, which oversees the project as a partnership between mana whenua and the conservation community, said the formalities were designed to help the workers operate safely and respectfully in an area that had deep significance for Ngāti Rehua Ngātiwai ki Aotea:

“Our people are connected to those that have occupied this landscape for over 700 years, so there are living reminders in the form of campsites, trails, burial sites, and artifacts throughout the area.

“Our vision is to bring back the birdsong these tupuna once heard, and we need to do this in a way that acknowledges their presence and our connection to the living things of the ngahere.”

Field workers will begin creating a network of lightly marked bush tracks to allow trail cameras and traps for feral cats to be in place by summer’s end.

Intensive trapping work across the Te Paparahi area will take place over the next year.

The project is recruiting workers, with a field team of eight beginning this week, most with whānau and island connections. The project aims to build field capability and technical knowledge that supports the vision of a predator-free Aotea.

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