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Protecting our kiwi in Whakatane

The important brown kiwi habitat around Whakatāne will receive added protection through an Iwi-led predator free project announced by Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau.

“The Government is investing nearly $5 million into Te R≈´nanga o NgƒÅti Awa’s environmental projects with $2.5 million committed from the Department of Conservation’s Job for Nature programme and $2.4 million from Predator Free 2050 Limited through the Provincial Growth Fund.

“The flagship Korehaha Whakahau project will remove possums from 4,700 hectares over five-years,” says Eugenie.

“This is an ambitious project designed to remove possums completely from the area bordered by the WhakatƒÅne River, ≈åhope beach, and the ≈åhiwa harbour. It will use the latest predator detection and trapping techniques,"

As well as the $2.5 million from DOC and $2.4 million from Predator Free 2050 Limited, the $5.6 million project will receive contributions from Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa and Ngāti Awa Group Holdings.

Korehaha Whakahau is the eighth large landscape project funded by Predator Free 2050 Limited and the first to be delivered by an iwi entity.

“The Te R≈´nanga o NgƒÅti Awa led environmental projects will benefit locals who are looking for work and who have been affected by the Whakaari disaster and COVID-19 downturn. It’s expected to see 10 jobs created immediately with an extra 30 within a year,” says Fletcher.

“The funding will help NgƒÅti Awa retain its workforce in the short term, while helping build its long-term aspiration to create viable sustainable employment opportunities within the Eastern Bay of Plenty."

Eugenie says the project builds on the predator control work of community organisations, councils and the Department of Conservation in the area, which has helped a population of around 300 North Island brown kiwi to thrive close to Whakatāne.

“It enables a mƒÅtauranga lens to be brought to the predator free mission with emphasis on cultural as well as biodiversity values.”

The Iwi will work closely with partner organisations, groups and funders to create a network of monitoring devices and traps, and defensive lines to remove possums, across a mix of private, public and Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa owned land.

“While this project is funded with $2.4 million from a $19.5 million Provincial Growth Fund investment in Predator Free 2050 Ltd, more recently the government has provided significant extra funding to supercharge environmental projects across Aotearoa as part of the $1.3 billion jobs for nature package,” says Eugenie.

“The funding is helping the Whakatane community as well as giving kiwi and local forests a helping hand."

The Eastern Bay of Plenty has retained important populations of kiwi, weka, kōkako, New Zealand falcon/kārearea, Australasian bittern/matuku, Banded rail/moho pererū and New Zealand robin/toutouwai, which have the potential to benefit from enhanced predator control and restoration efforts.

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