March 17, 2021, 9:38 a.m.
Te Ārai is a hugely significant area of land for far north iwi, Te Aupōuri. It's said to be the place where tūpuna would go before they passed on.
It was formely held by the Crown under the Conservation Act, however, it was returned to iwi in 2012.
Te Ārai is home to Te Aupōuri's last remaining tūpuna forest land and covers at least five different types of ecosystems including dune lakes and wetlands. The iwi is working proactively to protect the area.
Descendants are being employed to take care of their whenua and develop kaitiaki skills. While building iwi capacity, it is also opening up opportunities to work and live at home without having to travel to town to earn a living.
The first task was to fence off the land area and keep off-roading vehicles and wild-horses out - this is just the beginning of the restoration journey of Te Ārai.
For more on this story, watch the video above.