May 4, 2024

Back on the land

Hone Waiomio is on a mission to honour his Koro by revitalising the whenua on which his elders once walked.

And his hard work and dedication is clear to see in the way he is bringing 6ha alive at Akerama, near Ruapekapeka.

Revitalising a degraded puna/spring and small creek running into the Paiaka Stream, then into the Ngaruawahine Stream, and then the Waiotu is a focus. Hone says due to the stock having access to the creek and bush block for decades, there is some bank erosion which he plans to reverse.

Hone just hopes neighbouring farmers and fellow custodians of land in the Kaipara Moana catchment, feel similarly driven to look after the land and do their best to keep waterways clean by fencing them off and planting those areas in natives.

He urges people to partner with Kaipara Harbour Remediation and take advantage of the environmental expertise and guidance on offer – not to mention the funding assistance and the journey it takes people on.

“I have wanted to heal the whenua and getting that chance now is healing for me,” he says.

Hone is learning skills he has never previously experienced, from fencing to collecting native tree seeds from his local rohe.

And it is all driven by a desire to respect and enhance the whenua, while providing a home and good food to his whānau.

He is increasingly clear on his values and priorities, which is lifting his productivity and wellbeing constantly.

Hone sees himself as kaitiaki of the block and surrounding whenua, extending his plantings down into the wider landscape and, where possible, working with other local landowners to implement landscape remediation and te mana o te wai.

He is also clear on not wanting to use toxic chemicals for site preparation, instead preferring hand preparation for each plant and hand release. So far, almost 2000 stems have gone in the ground.

In total, Hone is caring for just over 5 hectares and he is proud of what he has achieved in a relatively short time as it is less than two years since he and his family moved on to the land.

Almost 500 metres of fencing has been completed and planting is underway in 3,330m2 of riparian, lake/wetlands areas. A pond laden with raupo and fed by a puna is now surrounded by a mix of natives which will help improve water quality over time.

All native bush blocks will be fenced off and interplanted to get a greater diversity of species to attract the birds and accelerate natural regeneration.

Hone’s ideal would be to see the whole Paiaka Stream restoration effort across multiple properties.

Meantime, he is equally focused on growing food for the family, by creating food forests, gardens and fattening a handful of cattle and sheep on 1.5ha of pasture for whanau consumption but through low intensity farming to look after the land.

Hone sees his role as kaitiaki and says it is a privilege to have returned to his father’s whanau block.

He intends to be on the land for the long haul which is why he is working so hard on pest management, gardening and growing fruit trees.

“So far I have trapped 40 possums, one stoat, 11 rats and 12 feral cats which I know is making a positive difference to the environment already. There is definitely more bird life around. When your blood and bones are from here, it is even more important to look after the environment,” says Hone.

Hone is learning as he goes and is loving his new life after years abroad.

“I feel like I am away now with the progress I have made. As long as I can keep doing my bit for the environment, for society and the world, I feel like I am doing my bit. I remember growing up as a kid that Aotearoa was clean and green and I was really proud of that but I reckon over time we have let that slip and we have a lot of work to do to rebuild the environment and get it right.”

“KMR have been awesome to work with and I would encourage landowners within the Kaipara Moana catchment to get on board and take advantage of the funding and guidance available – especially those people and community groups able to benefit from the Whenua Whānui Fund. It’s awesome.”

He is also passionate about the use of Rongoa from the bush, food sources from the bush and maximising the natural productivity of biodiversity.

Hone says he and his whānau are not just local kaitiaki but also mana whenua, with roles in the Akerama Marae community.

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