Over the next few years Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust (NHFT) is leading key projects focused on new approaches to Māori led indigenous land and forestry systems supported closely by Scion (a Crown research institute specialising in forestry). On Monday 16 May the first rangahau planning hui was held as part of a four-year project – He Ringa Ahuwhenua, He Hanga Mahi Indigenous Forestry Strategy Development 2021-2025. The project is funded through the Ministry of Primary Industries, Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service and aims to develop a transition strategy that shifts from exotic pine to a native forestry system through rangahau and research, wānanga and native forestry trial sites.
Ramona Radford, Portfolio Lead for Distinct Value Indigenous Forest-to-Wood Products at Scion said the science team is delighted to support this Ngāti Hine-led kaupapa which positions local knowledge and aspirations at the heart of a complex forest systems’ transition. “This is a big deal – never have four generations gathered to design a multi-use ngahere with mātauranga Māori in te reo Māori on a marae. We think it’s the way of the future,” she explains. The Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust shareholders and key stakeholders were invited to the rangahau planning hui held at Motatau marae in May following a virtual wānanga that was held late last year online due to the Covid 19 pandemic. The planning hui saw around one hundred people gather to hear about the project aspirations and to contribute to the strategy and design aspirations of the trial sites.
The rangahau planning hui provided a space for Ngāti Hine mātauranga relating to the whenua and ngahere to emerge. Scion representatives along with Tane’s Tree Trust provided examples of what a trial site could look like based on their knowledge systems and science. A formal co-design of the trial will continue once rakau, otaota, tree, plant species and numbers are finalised and confirmed, with this being dependent on nurseries and plant availability within the timeframes for planting and selection of trial sites on the NHFT’s estate. Wider input from science and mātauranga Māori will be factored into the design alongside nature’s realities. The project is significant as it not only considers a kaupapa Māori approach, it is unique to Ngāti Hine mātauranga through a rangahau philosophy that incorporates Te tū o Ngāti Hine, kaitiakitanga, mahi tahi and He Whenua Hua, He Tangata Ora.
Ernest Morton, Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust trustee said the project, “brings synergy to Te Ao Māori and Te Ao Pākeha through the Te Kuira (mosaic) approach with a common kaupapa to combat climate change and connect to whenua by protection through Mātauranga Māori”.
Morton goes on to say,
“The new is in the old concealed, and the old is in the new revealed. The healing through community involvement was more than evident at a recent wānanga at Mōtatau Marae and clearly changed the props and set the stage for new beginnings by co-designing the future”.
He Ringa Ahuwhenua, He Hanga Mahi – Indigenous Forestry Strategy Development Project 2021- 2025 came from a consistent narrative from NHFT shareholders – that more native trees be planted with a Māori approach. A shift from dominant pine trees to a mosaic quilt – Te Kuira approach with native trees dominating. The One Billion Trees (1BT); Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service policy provided an opportunity to conduct this project as it acknowledges mātauranga Māori and kaupapa Māori approaches as a priority to planting. This affirms tangata whenua as rangatira sovereign leaders and kaitiaki.
“This is a great example of the Government working in partnership with a Maori Forestry Trust to co-design and establish native forests at scale utilising mātauranga Māori and kaupapa Māori values and methodologies/approaches,” says Alex Wilson, Director Forest Development, Grants and Partnerships at Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service. “We are very proud to be a funding partner as these projects continue to deliver and ultimately will contribute to developing long-term carbon sinks which are critical to supporting New Zealand meeting its international climate change commitments,” said Wilson.
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