2023 AWARD WINNER
Sponsored by Ministry for the Environment
Reconnecting Northland’s purpose is “To bring communities, agencies and resources together to support thriving ecosystems across Northland”. It focuses on landscape-scale projects that deliver ecological, social and climate change mitigation outcomes. These are rooted in the local culture and tradition of Tai Tokerau.
Its goal is to reverse ecological degradation over three generations. An essential part of this transformation is fostering a deep connection between people and nature, encouraging individuals to see themselves as integral to the natural world. The organisation's community coordinators provide support and guidance through Te Kete Hononga, fostering ownership and stewardship among participants.
Over the past five years, Reconnecting Northland has worked closely with tangata whenua and more than 10 communities of Tai Tokerau. Through community-centric habitat restoration projects, the organisation supports communities to lead activities that restore and protect the natural environment.
By planting native trees, removing invasive species and restoring waterways, these projects promote ecological health and resilience for nature and people. Reconnecting fragmented ecosystems by creating nature corridors has far-reaching benefits for biodiversity and contributes to the long-term viability of native plants and animals. This approach plays a vital role in preserving Aotearoa New Zealand's unique ecosystems.
The organisation supports about 400 people working on nature regeneration projects over more than 80,000 hectares. It has attracted more than $4 million in project funding and provided angel investment to establish shovel-ready projects, led Te Kawa Waiora research, an indigenous approach to “living waters”, and created plans for pest control and riparian restoration.
Reconnecting Northland’s commitment to people and nature is driving positive change towards a more sustainable future and sets an example for others to follow.
The judges said: "This is a highly innovative organisation that is focused on connectivity conservation in Northland. Connectivity here is both geographically-based but also amongst organisations and stakeholders. As well as empowering communities on the ground, the organisation recognises the need to move to a more sustainable financial model for biodiversity and is making gains in this area.
"The judges strongly support the focus on developing sustainable nature-based enterprises around restoration activity. Reconnecting Northland has developed multiple revenue streams to support its initiatives and has just released Te Kete Hononga, a toolbox for community management of restoration activities."