On Monday 12 August the graduation of the first cohort of EIT’s new youth landcare programme Ka Hao te Rangatahi was held at Te Heapera Marae, on the banks of the Tapuaeroa river. The celebration was marked with speeches, waiata and a sumptuous hākari (feast) prepared by students from EIT Ruatoria Maara Kai course.
With proud whānau and project partners cheering them on, 8 rangatahi: Arapeta Beach, Raiha Blane David Boyce, Ronda Harimate, Hinemaurea Ngarimu, Alamayne Raroa-Keen, Joseph Te Purei and Joseph Tawhara were presented with certificates and taonga for completing the 6 month programme.
Ka Hao te Rangatahi pilots a new collaborative approach to land management skill training on the East Coast. Focused on the restoration of the Waiapu catchment, the programme supports rangatahi to deepen their connection to their whenua, maunga and awa, and introduces them to a suite of fundamental skills required to enhance biodiversity, manage erosion and engage in sustainable primary industry.
“It’s inspiring to see how far these rangatahi have come on the programme, and how well they have been supported by their whanau and community. While the biodiversity and erosion management challenges of the East Coast are large, the collaboration demonstrated by the individuals and agencies involved in Ka Hao te Rangatahi is hopefully just the beginning.” says EIT/DOC project manager Charles Barrie.
“The success of the project is a testament to the collaboration of those involved, but couldn’t have been successful without this first group of rangatahi, the pioneers, and they will certainly inform the future of the programme.”
During the Ka Hao te Rangatahi programme, students acquire experience in fencing, planting for erosion control and restoration, operating chainsaws and LUVs, establishing predator control programmes and learning about environmental and ecological monitoring.
The practical training is delivered by EIT rural studies staff and includes special guest tutor sessions from the Department of Conservation, Ngā Whenua Rāhui, Gisborne District Council and Ngāti Porou taiao leaders. Following the six months of full time training and learning, the graduates are assisted by the programme’s pastoral care coordinator Raanie Te Purei for a further 6 months to identify their next steps.
The graduation of Ka Hao te Rangatahi’s first cohort also marks the beginning of the journey for the next intake of students, who commenced their studies in July and will continue until December 2019.
Resourced by the Provincial Growth Fund’s He Poutama Rangatahi fund, the programme is also supported by a wider steering group which, in addition to the agencies named above, includes the Ministry for Primary Industries, Ministry of Social Development, industry representatives and Ruatoria community leaders.
Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou Board member Tui Warmenhoven says, “Our young people are the custodians of the future. These students have been the ground breakers and they have become the champions of our mana tieki, our mana motuhake. They are a manifestation of their ancestors and represent what many of us have strived for – our hopes and aspirations to restore the Waiapu catchment and our taiao. They herald the new dawn of kaitiekitanga. Without them our culture, our identity, our mātauranga and our place will be lost. They make the world a better place and I salute each and every one of them.
Ka pū te ruha ka hao te rangatahi!”