July 23, 2022
Since November 2021 we have made a start in a long journey of training and supporting Field Advisors as professional kaitiaki to assist landowners in the work of restoring the mauri of the Kaipara Moana.
In the first week of July we held our fourth Poutiaki Wānanga at Ātiu Creek Regional Park on the Okahukura peninsula. A small group with local kaumatua Ben Hita and Willie Wright, with a special mix of kaitiaki, mentors and apprentices formed design teams exploring positive and creative solutions, and cultivating the values, knowledge and skills to create remediation projects.
Tāmati Patuwai, engagement and cultural specialist from Ngāti Whātua is now supporting the training team, to begin to work with Ao Māori approaches that are relevant to our Taiao remediation work.
Using taonga puoro and karakia, Tāmati assisted Matua Willy to whakatau everyone around the sacred site of Oweka Pou, on the Okahukura peninsula looking over the Oruawharo River.
This moment marks a pivotal shift that tunes us into hundreds of years of human occupation by the Kaipara uri. This created the space for us to connect into a deeper sense of purpose; finding meaning through remembering the living waiata, karakia and stories of the past. It’s hard to give this experience the appropriate words, but all of us have shared in unison that this way of working brings us a sense of vision for a future that we all want to be part of.
Over three days in the field participants worked in real world situations, with landowners on the land. We are learning to appreciate potential, understanding the needs and aspirations of landowners, and the needs of the whenua, to plot a clear direction forwards, and identify the next achievable steps to reduce sedimentation. Our field advisors are here to help landowners, not to point the finger or enforce, but as the carrot, highlighting an opportunity to get ahead of the regulations and do the right thing.
Building trust and confidence is everything. The training provides an opportunity for people to get to know each other and build community of practice founded in a relationship of co-governance. We are interested in the professional development of people, and so we help identify the strengths they bring, their individual learning needs, and help them navigate their own learning pathway.
The big picture is important. We support the team to understand the vision, objectives and key principles of the KMR partnership, and as trusted advisors to communicate this confidently and effectively. We explore the KMR criteria and the funding streams that support remediation projects, helping field advisors to channel the right support to landowners.
Success of the programme depends on the quality of our relationships in working together for the greater good. We support our trainees to develop effective and timely communication skills, to build rapport, trust and confidence with landowners, and the importance of following-up and following-through on information and advice offered.
The whenua speaks to us if we have the right tools and know how to listen deeply. The skills of observing the catchment context and the farm-scale landscape are fundamental, understanding the landuse and farming systems enables us to identify at risk erosion areas, see opportunities, explore workable strategies for remediation, and identify the priorities for fencing around waterways and planting riparian areas.
KMR Field Advisors play an important role in collecting information that will enable us to focus on projects that create the biggest impact in the short term. We train them to use our existing digital tools for carefully collecting information, bearing in mind privacy issues and sensitive information and sites. Participants learn how to use our land planning tools, to map existing landuse systems, to design remediation projects, drawing up easy to understand plans for fencing and planting initiatives.
A Community of Practice
This is the largest Field Advisor training initiative in Aotearoa that we are aware of right now. KMR sits in an exciting space of change around how we understand and manage land as a society. We are encouraging our trainees to keep in mind the emerging opportunities for Kaipara Uri, mana whenua, rural professionals, community groups and landowners to learn and practice kaitiakitanga together and achieving the larger objectives of Te Mana o te Wai and more broadly adaptation to climate change.
KMR is playing a role in leading the way to a deeper understanding of people and place, how a healthy landscape is, and what sustains people and communities in the face of change and disruption. In a nutshell it is the principle of Kaitiakitanga that needs to be nurtured and championed from here on out. It will take a movement of committed, purpose led individuals, willing to work through difference to gather in unity for this cause.
That’s us. Wish us luck on this journey.
Mauri Ōra e!
Written by FA Training team.