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On the retired farm land, volunteers have begun to restore the whenua, one tree at a time

In the middle of coastal Tapuwae Whitiwhiti, the Civil Assist team led by Andrew Lawton are planting, maintaining and protecting native trees on the retired block annually.

As part of their undertaking to provide volunteer resources that benefit te taiao (the environment), Civil Assist have been working in and around this block for 3 years to hold strong to the importance of the regions’ environmental wellbeing.

Andrew spoke of the significant areas in this rohe, including Te Tapuwae o Rongokaka, the Urupa towards the south, nesting birds on the foreshore, estuary and stream, and a pa site with kumara pits on the hill. Included in these significant areas are the summer camping visitors each year.

“A long-term planting and protection plan for this area will be of great benefit, helping to connect the areas of significance and bringing the community together in this exercise,” says Andrew.

“I grew up spending a lot of time camping in Pouawa and this area with family and have a strong connection to the area.”

A group of volunteer planters ventured into the retired block during December to release the already planted trees as part of the environmental plan. The team of volunteers are drawn from staff from throughout Aotearoa and the world including Fiji, South Africa, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Argentina, India, Singapore and Mexico.

Retired land blocks throughout Whāngārā Farms that are no longer suitable or viable for farming are being tagged for revitalisation through the planting of native trees and therefore, restoring native bush.

The natural restoration is also about learning from past missteps, with all business decisions of Whāngārā Farms impacting on te taiao taking into consideration whether the organisation is upholding the mana and mauri of the whenua, the mana and mauri of our people, and if the decision provides prosperity whilst upholding the organisational values rangatiratanga, kaitiakitanga, manaakitanga and whanaungatanga.

Whāngārā Farms Operations Manager Scott Lasenby, and Business Manager, Ray Leach, accompanied Civil Assist and the team of volunteers to the block in December and Ray says that while no one can foresee exactly what Whāngārā Farms will look like in its entirety by 2032, contributions from organisations such as Civil Assist and their planting activities will help.

“What Whāngārā Farms can be confident of is that continuing to realise our vision statement “sustainable growth for the wellbeing of our people”, we will realise environmental goals for that moment in time, especially while these collaborative activities continue.”

Civil Assist’s expertise covers a wide range of engineering disciplines, leveraging their experience to achieve the objectives of their clients. As a team, their commitment is to engineer a sustainable future achieved through seeking out innovative solutions.

Cyclone Gabrielle and other natural disasters within te Tairāwhiti have had a direct impact on the whenua of Whāngārā Farms. We know from experience that climate change is real and requires our farms to think about reducing our own greenhouse emissions by planting more trees.

As the Tairāwhiti region as a whole prepares to experience more potential weather events into the future, the planting of trees is part of a bigger picture to futureproof the land for future generations. The volunteer planting and protection process is a collaborative move to revive the entire ecosystem, not just plant and bring back trees.

“It’s really cool to see this ecosystem coming back.” says Ray.

Underpinning all activities in and around te taiao is the Farms’ whakatauki “a healthy and thriving taiao is a healthy and thriving people.”

Whāngārā Farms’ role as kaitiaki is to hold strong to the importance of our environmental wellbeing and centre our decision-making over our natural resources within our whānau, hapu and iwi.

The Taiao Subcommittee would like to hear from our shareholders, whānau, hapu and iwi to understand your views and passion with regard to our whenua and sustainable activities that safeguard te taiao. Click here to take the taiao survey.

From everyone at Whāngārā Farms, the organisation thanks Civil Assist for their mahi (work) and contribution to the environmental wellbeing of our whenua. Whāngārā Farms looks forward to following the journey of the restoration taking place by Civil Assist and storytelling the outcomes.