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Future conservation leaders meet at Ruatoria for education agenda

THE East Coast Hawke’s Bay Te Tairawhiti ki Te Matau-a-Maui Conservation Board recently held its quarterly meeting at Ruatoria with an education-focused agenda.

Ruatoria board member Marijke Warmenhoven was delighted to be hosting the Board in her home town and show off the “future conservation leaders from the Coast” in a project she had held close to her heart for a long time, board chairwoman Penny Shaw said.

“The board met students and staff on the inaugural Ka Hao Te Rangatahi Ecological Landcare course and saw how this new conservation course was developing.

The course is a result of collaboration between local iwi, landowners, EIT, Department of Conservation, Nga Whenua Rahui and Gisborne District Council and is supported by He Poutama Rangatahi — a youth development fund administered by the Government’s Provincial Development Unit.

“In addition to what had been achieved to date, the students will shortly undertake a bat monitoring exercise with newly purchased acoustic recording equipment that can detect the bat’s sonar.”

Joining the Board’s meeting were Rau Kirikiri from the New Zealand Conservation Authority, and Department of Conservation (DoC) staff.

They all accompanied several students to Takamore bush, a private Maori land block under Nga Whenua Rahui Kawenata to see one of the main outdoor education sites for the programme.

Local botanical expert and DoC ranger, Graeme Atkins, guided everyone through the reserve.

“The Takamore bush is the only flat land in the area to still have virgin forest so is a valuable asset for the local community.

“The benefits of over 20 years of fencing out stock was remarkably visible. The lush understory regrowth, and musical bird song contrasted markedly with the adjacent non-fenced farmland,” said Mr Atkins.

“It was humbling to be in the presence of an 800-year-old Matai tree and many old totara and kahikatea with their entangled root systems. There is hope for a return to a healthy forest.”

Discussing the wider East Coast conservation matters later in the hui, the board were given an ecological overview of the 180,000 hectares of indigenous forest across the Raukumara ranges from leaders of the Raukumara Road Shows held in February this year. The taonga (treasure) of the Raukumara including the hochstetter’s frog, the mountain buttercups, the towering podocarps, and the importance of each of the seven ecological zones, were outlined.

“The community will be deciding together how to halt the loss of biodiversity in these special ranges and bring the ngahere (bush) back to health. The conservation programmes that these young coast leaders are enrolled on is a great start,” he said.

Miss Warmenhoven agreed with these sentiments from Mr Atkins.

“Seeing the level of investment in our Coast’s rangatahi has been very rewarding,” she said.

OUT AND ABOUT: Members of the East Coast Hawke’s Bay Te Tairawhiti ki Te Matau-a-Maui Conservation Board met with students and staff from the Ka Hao Te Rangatahi Ecological Landcare course recently. Those pictured included: back, from left, students Joseph Tawhara and David Boyce, DoC operations manager John Lucas, board chair Penny Shaw, board member Sam Gibson, DoC regionals statutory manager Chris Visser, DoC ranger Graeme Atkins and DoC community engagement supervisor Charles Barrie. Front, from left, board member Jo Blakeley, student Arapeta Beach, board member Marijke Warmenhoven, student Raiha Blane, student Hinemaurea Kaiwai, EIT tutor Lisa Beach, board member Lucy Meagher and EIT pastoral administrator Rani Harrison-Te Purei. Picture supplied