Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Rēhia Trust

Winner of the Kaitiakitanga award at the 2023 Whakamānawa ā Taiao – Environmental Awards.

The mahi of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Rēhia Trust exemplifies outstanding kaitiaki (guardian) leadership and a deep commitment to empowering whānau, hapū, and iwi to restore the mauri (life force) of te taiao (the environment).

The trust’s objectives include the planting indigenous trees across a significant area, restoring cultural sites, helping local biodiversity re-establish and much more.

Through training opportunities for rangatahi (youth) and engaging with kura, the trust is passing down knowledge and fostering true intergenerational kaitiakitanga (guardianship).

Its environmental arm began in 2016 and involves various stakeholders, including hapū, community and kura, weaving mātauranga Māori (traditional knowledge) with western science.

Objectives encompass multiple aspects of environmental management and biosecurity, including the planting of 400,000 indigenous flora, 40,000 kauri and 40,000 mixed native species.

A pest-proof fence has been built to trap and control pests. Coastal areas have been targeted for weed control and the planting of 20,000 pīngao, 2000 pohutukawa and 2000 harakeke.

Significant outcomes have been achieved, such as the protection of historical pā sites, an increase in biodiversity with the presence of more than 60 dotterel, and the re-establishment of kiwi populations.

The project has also resulted in the restoration of degraded landscapes, increased native vegetation cover, and created a kauri sanctuary for future generations to appreciate.

(Images: Wendy Bown)