Te Arawa Lakes Trust secures $2.5m funding for Rotorua wetland restoration and jobs

A Rotorua iwi will lead a mission to restore a wetland and tackle pests – the first project in the government’s scheme to create nature-based jobs to help with Covid-19 recovery.

Te Arawa Lakes Trust has received $2.5 million in funding to support the creation of 40 jobs.

The plan to restore this wetland was developed during the level 4 lockdown to generate new opportunities by advancing environmental projects.

Trust chairman Tā Toby Curtis said the trust hoped this kaupapa would mark the start of the recovery, and would lead to even more jobs, and better environmental outcomes.

“Covid-19 significantly impacted our people, many of whom relied on tourism, hospitality and service industries for employment.

“While this kaupapa has been in planning for some time, it is even more relevant now as it will also deliver valuable, high impact jobs across areas we have been unable to prioritise with existing resources.”

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage made the announcement in Rotorua this morning as part of the Jobs for Nature programme, worth $1.3 billion.

“It’s a really ambitious plan which covers both the awa, the lakes, and land. It’s focused on wetland restoration as one of the projects, control of weeds and pests like catfish.”

The trust had already done work trapping and controlling catfish, she said.

The project would also involve weed control, pest eradication, monitoring water takes and discharges, and beehive management work across Te Arawa’s rohe, which would improve the health of the whenua and freshwater, Sage said.

Te Arawa Lakes Trust environment manager Nicki Douglas said the first project would start at Whakapoukorero in Maketu.

“This kaupapa will not only upskill and engage our whānau as Hunga Tiaki and forge stronger connections with our environment, it will also replenish the mauri of our wai, our whenua and our whakapapa.”

The project aligns with Te Arawa values and supported the important mahi that Te Arawa Covid-19 Hub was doing, Tā Toby Curtis said.

The hub was established within hours of the level 4 lockdown being announced on 23 March, with marae, hapū, health, business and community organisations across Te Arawa coming together to support whānau.

It has already collaborated with the Ministry of Social Development and Lakes District Health Board to host three iwi relationship co-ordinators to support people through social services, development and employment.