Benefits flow from Waingake revegetation partnership project
Last Thursday Council, Maraetaha Inc and Ngāi Tāmanuhiri conducted a blessing and tree planting ceremony at Waingake, marking the formal symbolic start of work at a major revegetation and restoration project.
The Waingake block currently consists of around 1100ha of commercial pine forestry and 500ha of native vegetation in various stages of regeneration and maturity. The revegetation is an exciting development that over 11 years will reforest the former forestry land into native forest, although work will continue after that to maintain the emerging forest.
Earlier this year forestry company Juken New Zealand began a staged harvest of plantation pine, with the last trees likely to be harvested by 2027.
“The plan is to progressively revegetate the harvested areas with indigenous plants, starting with manuka, which will act as a nursery crop for larger species,” said Andrew White, director of liveable communities at Council.
“We will maintain an area of pine forest for a future income stream, but the majority of the block will be planted to native forest. In this first stage 82ha will be planted with 160,000 mānuka trees.”
Council’s iwi partners supported the ceremony in large numbers, and kaikorero Parekura Brown of Ngai Tamanuhiri led the karakia whaka mauri, blessing the site before planting began.
“We placed mauri stones and recited karakia at last week’s event, which symbolically cemented our commitment, relationships and aroha in this kaupapa,” said Jody Toroa of Ngāi Tāmanuhiri.
“We’ve worked together with Te Kaunihera (Council) to get this far, and this bodes extremely well for a new partnership between Ngāi Tāmanuhiri and Council.”
The Waingake area has been reserved to protect water infrastructure, including three dams and a pipeline delivering drinking water to Gisborne.
“There are many positives about this project,” Mr White said.
“Council’s partnership with Ngāi Tāmanuhiri continues to be a really constructive one. The iwi have embraced this project and are anticipating the benefits that will flow in jobs, a reduction in pest plants and animals, ensuring stability of steep and highly erodible land, and an increase in biodiversity regionally.”
Council recently received funding from One Tree Planted, a global reforestation non-profit organisation, towards costs to plant 160,625 native seedlings for environmental restoration.
“We are delighted to have been successful with our funding application, which will not only help with our initial costs, but has also validated the groundwork we have been laying and the vision we have developed for the region over the last few years,” Mr White said.