The Tū Mai Taonga Steering Committee met on January 26th for its first meeting since the project transferred to the leadership of the Ngāti Rehua Ngātiwai ki Aotea Trust.
Tū Mai Taonga– which refers to the need to stand up for the island’s treasured native wildlife – has received significant funding through the Jobs for Nature – Mahi mō te Taiao programme, with backing from Predator Free 2050 Limited, the Department of Conservation and Auckland Council.
The committee approved a first quarter budget enabling the project to move forward with initial appointments and preparatory work to help it meet objectives to protect and restore native species and ecosystems in the Aotea Conservation Park and Northern Aotea.
It also confirmed a timeline over the next two months to consider a feasibility study commissioned to verify the use of ground-based methodologies to tackle feral cats and rats which threaten important populations of native seabirds, land birds, reptiles, and bats on the island.
Steering Committee Chair Opo Ngawaka said the meeting was an important milestone and acknowledged the work of the Aotea Great Barrier Island Environmental Trust in securing funding for the project. He welcomed Kate Waterhouse, Izzy Fordham and Sue Daly and thanked them for bringing community representation and governance expertise to the committee alongside mana whenua; Matthew Ngawaka, representing Kawa marae, and Marilyn Stephens and Paula Williams, alternative representatives from Motairehe marae.
Opo also acknowledged the work of Jo Ritchie, the Project Lead over the past year, who has overseen preparation of the feasibility study and other preparatory work and leaves next month for personal and family reasons. Jo will transition from her role as Project Lead into an advisory role in the project as of February 25th.
The committee approved the appointment of Makere Jenner as the Acting Project Lead until the end of June, when the committee will have advertised and filled the role permanently. Makere has worked as the project’s engagement advisor for the past six months and her whānau is resident on Rangiāhua, one of the Broken Islands.
The committee also agreed to seek and appoint an Operations Manager for the project before March 31.
It also welcomed the support that newly appointed Kaiwhakahaere (General Manager) of the Ngāti Rehua Ngāti Wai ki Aotea Trust Charles Nepia will bring to the project.
Charles has lived on Aotea with his whānau for 11 years and has considerable project management experience, including large infrastructure development projects in the South Pacific for clients such as the World Bank.
Charles will oversee the project on behalf of the trust and coordinate cultural advice to it. He will also lead the development of a Project Operations Manual to guide the implementation of Ngāti Rehua Ngātiwai ki Aotea Trust policies, the requirements of the funders, upcoming recruitments, tendering, financial management, in-kind reporting and manage the overall complexities of the project.
Marilyn Stephens, representing Motairehe Marae on the committee, summed up the mood of the meeting by saying she was proud to be involved in a project that involves a real partnership of mana whenua and the community working together for Aotea’s future.
The committee has a busy time ahead with four meeting dates scheduled before the end of March.
For updates on Tū Mai Taonga, please go to www.tumaitaonga.nz