Restoring the mauri to ‘diseased’ whenua

Thanks to funding from Te Puni Kōkiri Whenua Māori Fund, Paengaroa South 3 can finally look to restore the mauri to their whenua.

Published: Monday, 24 October 2022 | Rāhina, 24 Whiringa ā-nuku, 2022

Trustee Jimi McLean says the whenua, located 30 minutes from Tauranga, had been sitting idle for twenty years.

“The whenua was once good pastureland before this forestry company came along,” said Jimi.

“They planted eucalyptus trees which didn’t take, then ten-foot-high blackberries started taking over. The company stopped paying rent, filed for bankruptcy, and effectively walked off the land with a lot of damage done,” he added.

Jimi joined the Trust in 2017 and along with the other Trustees set about sorting back-dated council rates, Te Tumu Paeroa administration fees and work out a plan clear the now ‘diseased’ plantation.

“We had a quote of $90k to clear the trees but had $13k in the bank. So, we found a forestry contractor who does firewood on the weekend and a young farmer whose cows will keep the berries down, it’s all about green trading.

“We then looked at the books and thankfully, Western Bay Council agreed to write off the back-dated rates,” Jimi said.

Chairperson Michele Hawe said the whenua was once a place of abundance and hopes to return that legacy for future generations.

“This block was once a maara kai for Rangitihi tipuna. We are all descended from the kuia who came from Tainui and married into Te Arawa. The land has a lot of history,” said Michele.

Paengaroa South 3, near Tauranga, was once a maara kai with good pastureland.

Te Puni Kōkiri Senior Advisor Margaret (Marg) Courtney has been working alongside the Trust to support their whenua aspirations.

“TPK has helped us see the potential under the paru. Thanks to Marg and the funding we were able to engage Glenn Hawkins & Associates, who helped us run whānau workshops and training. They also provided recommendations and a business plan.

“We're excited to present these options to the Board. These are Native Trees, Berries or Kiwi fruit enterprises and potentially even housing.

“We’re working hard to get it in a good space for the next generation to take over,” added Michele.


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