Maunga magic for Brooke
There’s something quite special about just digging your hands in the dirt on Tītīrangi while planting natives, says Brooke Reedy-Dixon, who is part of the kaitiaki project in the Tairāwhiti Economic Support Package Redeployment Programme.
Her mahi on the maunga has regenerated the soul of this 21-year-old Ngāti Porou woman. “It is cool feeling the soil with your hands. It makes you feel connected. This has opened my eyes to what is around me,” she says. “I love getting up to come to work every day – that wasn’t always the case before I joined this team.”
There’s something quite special about being part of the restoration through Whaia Tītīrangi (Kaiti Hill), a collaborative effort between Ngāti Oneone and Gisborne District Council. “It will take time but once it is done the maunga will be beautiful again,” says Brooke. “It’s nice being outdoors – it doesn’t matter what the weather is like because once you start walking and working you get warm.”
She loves hearing the stories and history, and learning about the trees they are planting, including the medicinal attributes of them all. “We learn new stuff every day. Now Tītīrangi is special to me . . . it has a whole new meaning.”
Her favourite area is the summit. “It is where we weeded and mulched and was the first work we did,” says Brooke. “It’s really the prettiest part.”
Her whānau have noticed a real change in her too. “I am motivated and so much happier,” she says. “I am slowly coming out of my shell and gaining my confidence back – there are so many positives for me being part of this project and it is all about feeling that connection with the maunga.
The project is one of five that are part of the $23.755m Tairāwhiti Economic Support Package Redeployment Programme which is being managed by Gisborne District Council. While the $100m national programme was initially tilted to forestry workers, it was later changed to include all who had been affected by the impact of the COVID-19 virus.
A key component of the Tairāwhiti programme is the new skills and qualifications workers will gain to help them get sustainable long-term employment in the future.
Brooke Reedy-Dixon and her beloved three-year-old lab cross Chyna who gets to accompany her to mahi on Tītīrangi as part of the Tairāwhiti Economic Support Package Redeployment Programme kaitiaki project. Photo by The Black Balloon