The Sustainable Business Network (SBN) has secured $1 million from the government’s Jobs for Nature Fund for the initiative, via the Department of Conservation. SBN is working in support of the Waiohua Iwi collective, which includes Ngaati Te Ata, Ngaati Tamaoho and Te Aakitai. The collective has created Te Whakaoranga o te Puhinui, a multi-generational charter and a strategy to regenerate the Puhinui and its communities.
SBN is now working with local partners to get waterway restoration work underway and stimulate new careers in nature regeneration. It has established partnerships with Te Pu-A-Nga Maara, a rangatahi-led sustainability group that is recruiting, training and inspiring both professionals and volunteers for the work on the ground, and iwi owned and operated Makaurau Marae Nursery, which propagates locally sourced native plants.
To further stimulate the local economy the project is committed to purchasing goods and services ethically and locally wherever possible. It prioritises working with Māori, Pasifika, women and the young.
The initiative needs more investment. SBN is continuing to build partnerships with business, philanthropy and government agencies.
The Waiohua collective is working in partnership with Eke Panuku Development Auckland and the Healthy Waters department of Auckland Council. It is also supported by the wider Auckland Council and government agencies. This includes charter signatories The Southern Initiative, Manurewa and Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Boards and Kāinga Ora.
Plans for revitalising the stream itself were developed by Auckland’s Resilio Studio. They won a 2021 International Federation of Landscape Architects Asia-Pacific Award and featured in Auckland’s ‘virtual room’ at COP26.
Rachel Brown ONZM is SBN’s founder and chief executive. She says:
“All the work takes Waiohua collective’s whakapapa approach. It’s about prioritising the connections between people, place and nature. It takes a holistic lens to revitalising the mauri, the life force of this tupuna awa, these ancestral waters.
“Many of the local communities struggle financially, with high unemployment and low wages. They’re especially vulnerable to the ongoing job losses and health impacts of the pandemic. There’s also a lack of reserves and green spaces for families and residents to walk, exercise and play. New careers for local people based on regenerating nature addresses all this and more.”
“This initiative has opened up opportunities for businesses to make hugely impactful investments in this work. We’re approaching business partners locally and nationally that want to be part of this vital success story.”
Image: Hon Kiri Allan MP, Minister for Conservation, speaking at the official launch of the Puhinui project at Te Pane o Mataaoho/Mangere Mountain on 26 April 2022