May 13, 2020, 11:53 p.m.
A living Ngahere (forest) is where our whenua, and our precious taonga species are all healthy and thriving. Sadly the Raukumara Ngahere is dying, and experts say there might be less than 10 years to save it. Many ngahere in Te Hiku o Te Ika are also at risk of collapse. Peter-Lucas caught up with Ora Barlow-Tukaki of Te Whānau-a-Apanui to talk about iwi and hapū plans to save the Raukumaraa forest.
Ora Barlow-Tukaki said, “The forest is over-run by deer and possum numbers as a result of very minimal predator control over the past few decades.”
The iwi made a funding bid for a forest survival project. The proposed $35 million project would run over five years and provide jobs for about 40 people, including managers, trappers, and on the job training for iwi members in conservation and the environment space.
Ora Barlow-Tukaki of Te Whānau-a-Apanui said, “hapū all agree with the vision to bring life back to the Raukumara Ngāhere.”
The proposed project aims to bring back native birds while creating jobs for the haukāinga who are kaitiaki of the forest. The long-term goal of providing unique tourism opportunities in the forest is one of the drivers of this "Shovel-ready" project that could benefit from government funding. The proposed haukāinga efforts will provide an opportunity for regional economic growth as Aotearoa recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ora explained that Te Whānau ā Apanui is on the northern part of the forest and Ngāti Porou to the east, and they have run wānanga to raise awareness of the state of the forest and endorse support to save it.
The Raukūmara is described as on the verge of ecological collapse, which means the forest situation is so unacceptable that the ecosystem could suffer a drastic, possibly permanent, reduction in the capacity for living organisms.