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Ngāti Toa planters making a difference

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From left, Tuteremoana Ropata, Kawharu Cullinan and Heath Taylor alongside Pāuatahanui Inlet last week.

“It’s the outcome I like – we’re doing something to protect this land.”

Tuteremoana Ropata is enjoying getting his hands in the soil and knowing that he and three others – Heath Taylor, Paris Solomon and Kawharu Cullinan – are making a difference in a project that is part of a wider one to help regenerate Te Awarua-o-Porirua Harbour.

Over the coming weeks, the four will be putting more than 13,000 plants in the ground as part of long-term Porirua City Council programme to restore saltmarsh and coastal vegetation around the harbour edges.

Employed via Council partners Ngāti Toa, the young men, who come from varying backgrounds, are not only gaining new skills, but have learnt much about what their endeavour will result in.

“This isn’t just four guys doing a job, digging holes – they’re becoming aware of the role each individual plant species has in uplifting the mana of the eco-system” says supervisor Luke Barnsley.

“There is a much wider context at play.”

Heath says the weather hasn’t always played ball, but the mahi is worth it.

“We’re learning a lot and understanding the effect of our work on the environment.

“Pāuatahanui Inlet is booming with life and we’re helping to get it back to what it once used to be. We’re all enjoying this journey out here.”

Species like mākaka (saltmarsh ribbonwood), wharariki (coastal flax), and wiwi (sea rush) are being planted as part of the programme. Areas such as Motukaraka Point, Camborne, Browns and Ivey bays, and near the waka sheds on Wi Neera Dr, will all get planted out in the coming years.

Ngāti Toa chief executive Helmut Modlik says this has been a fantastic opportunity for the four men.

“It is impossible to overstate what the wellbeing of Te Awarua-o-Porirua means to Ngāti Toa. We are sincerely grateful for the mahi of these young men on-behalf of our people and the wider community. He mahi rangatira tēnei!”

Porirua Mayor Anita Baker says the restoration programme is wonderful to witness.

“The harbour is so important to Porirua, and the Council always has it as a priority in our long-term planning,” she says.

“To see this work happening is very pleasing and is part of a campaign that involves our entire community.”

Along with planting, there is also weed control and predator trapping occurring.

21 Oct 2021