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EIT student determined to save country’s biodiversity

May 25, 2020

After weeks of lockdown, Kere Pomana enjoys to be out and about again getting her nature fix. Kere is part of EIT’s first intake in the Diploma in Environmental Management. After completing a level 4 Certificate in Sustainable Primary Production, it was a no brainer for the mum-of-two to continue with higher-level study. After all, she has a goal to achieve.

Of Ngāti Kahungunu ki Rakaipaaka descent, Kere grew up on a farm close to Lake Tutira. She loved and always loved the great outdoors. “Being outside surrounded by trees, flowers and animals always made me happy. I feel like if you nurture your environment, it nurtures you back, like a mother”, says Kere.

Cultivating native trees is one of Kere Pomana’s biggest passions

Apart from studying full-time, Kere is working part-time at Triplefin Environmental Consulting lead by Shane Smith, an environmental and marine scientist, passionate about empowering indigenous peoples to become more involved and productive in providing resource management solutions. Kere says she was brought up in a conventional way. “My work is a great way to learn about the Māori side of things and look at conservation from a Māori perspective.”

Kere has received the Maritime Union Scholarship awarded to tertiary students who can make a difference with their knowledge and benefit the region. For Kere this means helping to make the region become sustainable.

“I want my kids to experience what I experienced when I was little. I want to play a part in preserving our biodiversity, in bringing back native birds and plants, the tuna, kākahi (fresh water mussles), the wētā and the huhu grub. I want to have nice and healthy waterways. Spending time in our native bush grounds heals us. That’s what biodiversity is for me.”

Kere says that studying allows her to understand the reasons behind why she is doing certain things at work. “Before I was just following processes and didn’t think much further. Over the last months, I’ve gained a deeper understanding for example why we take water samples, analyse them and what an important role microinvertibrates play as a water quality indicator.”

Compared to the very hands-on horticulture programmes that Kere completed in the past, the diploma was more of an academic challenge. “I’m a do-er learner. However, we needed to learn the foundations first and now it all starts to come together.”

“The programme pushes me to reflect on what sustainability really means, on our impact on the environment and how we can ensure that we don’t destroy the ecological balance. It makes me appreciate New Zealand’s native flora and fauna even more now. There are so many good things happening in Hawke’s Bay to protect our biodiversity and our environment.”

Kere has chosen to study part-time and plans to dedicate the next three years to complete her degree. She says she is grateful for the flexible nature of the programme, as well as the possibility of staircasing over time from Diploma to a Degree. EIT staff are currently preparing the new diploma courses for next year, and have arrangements for students who want to continue to study for an environmental science or management degree.

Kere’s ultimate goal is to regenerate a piece of land around her whānau’s marae in Nuhaka. “I’m dreaming of a regenerative block there at the awa (river) that runs behind it, with a lot of native trees, birds and insects. I would love to establish a small scale regenerative und sustainable farm park dedicated to education and pleasure. It will be our little piece of paradise.”