Working alongside Māori landowners
James' role as a Kaituitui Taiwhenua Rural Coordinator works alongside Māori landowners and lessees to protect and enhance whenua Māori administered by the Te Tumu Paeroa.
James works in the Ratonga Tuarā Taonga Trust & Property team and helps to manage a portfolio of Māori land trusts in the Pou Tuarongo region, ensuring that the whenua, is looked after and complies with current environmental regulations.
He also helps to plan, deliver, and monitor property projects to ensure the best outcomes for the whenua.
Recently we spent a day with James on two whenua Māori land blocks in the Horowhenua.
The first block was a 104ha farm just out of Foxton, 2ha has been developed into a flourishing wetland and nearly 42ha have been planted with pine trees. The remainder is grazed as part of the adjoining dairy farm.
The Māori landowners are looking to drill a new water bore to deliver a consistent supply of stock water for the grazing cattle and enhance the value of the whenua. After consultation with the owners and advisory trustees for the trust, James met with a contractor to discuss the best location for the bore and work through the requirements for resource consent and its installation.
The pine tree plantation was replanted in 2018, following the harvest of adult pine trees from the block. While on site, James met with the forestry contractor to discuss the best approach for pruning the young pines. Several factors are taken into consideration when assessing the pruning requirements, including access to plantation, and the height and growth of the trees.
James said his role has a very practical side, but there is also a lot of mahi back in the office, including completing proposals, applications, seeking approvals and reporting. He liaises with contractors, local councils, and the lessees to ensure the work is completed as planned and meets environmental regulations. But the variety is what he enjoys about it.
We also visited a nearby block, used mostly for dairy support. This 103ha block has pine trees planted on approximately 10ha.
Meeting with a regional council representative on the block meant James was able to discuss fencing requirements for the whenua. This mahi was identified in the block’s Farm Environment Plan, so it can meet the current environmental standards and ensure the waterways are protected.
Farm Environment Plans (FEPs) are completed for all blocks where the Māori Trustee has been appointed responsible trustee. They are unique to a property and reflect the local climate and soils, the type of farming operation, and the goals and aspirations of the land user.
The FEP also ensures that the whenua is being managed in accordance with statutory regulations and identifies actions to effectively protect the whenua.
‘Without a doubt, everyone cares about the whenua, it’s what’s under your feet. It’s part of what shapes your identity,’ says James. Whilst it is complex work, James believes that Te Tumu Paeroa is uniquely positioned to work alongside owners and lessees to protect and enhance the whenua for future generations.
If you're interested in a role at Te Tumu Paeroa, check out our current opportunities.