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Savouring new learnings

23 Jul 2020

Savouring new learnings

angus NR

Angus Maindonald lives by the mantra of no expectations in life . . . but even he admits the mahi he is doing on the Whaia Tītīrangi project as part of the Tairāwhiti Economic Support Package Redeployment Programme will deliver hugely to the wider community for generations to come.

“The project will benefit holistic community health,” he says. “The outcome of what we do on the maunga for the wider community and those on the project will be there for future generations.”

It would bolster the environmental health of the maunga and directly affect the states of the people through the plantings and the frequency of birds returning to Tītīrangi. Holistic health is his world. He previously worked as a lead systems innovator for Healthy Families NZ and left to start his own healthy food-based business. However, the impact of COVID struck hard the day after he finished at Healthy Families NZ and he was adrift.

“It is funny how the world works,” says Angus, a supervisor on Tītīrangi. “While working for Healthy Families NZ I learnt a lot about systematic thinking . . . about what holds problems in place for communities and different ways of getting people together from the bottom up.”

To implement change is the challenge and it took time to allow the seeds of ideas to grow. A lifetime lover of nature, Angus came to Tairāwhiti for the surf. It’s a region he has come to love.

“That this opportunity came along when it did is amazing,” he says. Angus was the first brought onto the Whaia Tītīrangi project, identified early for his leadership skills.

“The maunga is dramatically different with so much work going on – I am really stoked with how it is looking,” he says.

In his weeks on the programme, he has been buoyed watching the connection between the many school children who help on Tītīrangi and the crews. “It is beautiful to see. It is an amazing opportunity to bring kids here and expose them to such opportunity – I certainly didn’t have that at school.”

He’s learnt so much too about the special and very spiritual connection the maunga has with Ngāti Oneone, who manage Tītīrangi in a collaboration with Gisborne District Council.

He’s also picked up new qualifications in health and safety, first aid and will soon add GrowSafe to the list as well. “The people in Whaia Tītīrangi are all so passionate about it and I have been a sponge absorbing as much as I can about everything. The rongoa (natural Māori medicine) of the plants has been the best part.”

And the programme participants have been just as fascinated and attentive to learn as much as they can too. “I am passionate to pass on all I learn too – that is such a special part of this whole experience.”

Angus is still keen to pursue his healthy food-based business but is thinking more of a co-operative that would bring together the best of the region to share with others.

The $23.755m Redeployment Programme is in response to the impacts of COVID-19 and aims to provide work and training for up to 200 people.

It is funded through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, administered by the Provincial Development Unit and overseen by Gisborne District Council, and a coming together of so many to ensure all on the programme not only find work but pick up new skills, qualifications and the opportunity of meaningful, long term employment.