Te Toa Whenua grew from an iwi-led vision to restore and transform nine hundred hectares of land along the Waipoua river in Northland.
The restoration of this whenua, which has been returned to Te Roroa as part of the Treaty of Waitangi Settlement process, will create an ecological corridor and protect significant archaeological sites within Te Toa Whenua, while establishing sustainable land uses between parts of Waipoua Forest nearest the Waipoua River and the sea north of Maunganui Bluff.
A key part of the project will involve ecological restoration of the land through pest management, eliminating weeds and then reforesting as quickly as possible, to out-compete the pest plant species. Te Iwi o Te Roroa intend to develop a nursery to propagate native plants required to replant land within the scope of Te Toa Whenua.
Funding was sought from Foundation North towards the costs involved with developing the nursery, including the materials to build it and the team that will construct it. The Trust believes that the benefits of the nursery will reap further than housing native plants for this project. Over time, the nursery will provide an economic opportunity for local people to produce and sell plants to other community organisations. It may also become an educational tool and community hub, enabling Te Iwi o Te Roroa members to reconnect and be involved in rehabilitating their whenua.
The project embodies the heritage, biodiversity and sustainability aspirations of Te Roroa Iwi, and restoration of this whenua has been their intergenerational goal. Te Toa Whenua represents a powerful ambition for their people to realise and actively exercise their traditional rangatiratanga and kaitiakitanga over their land.
The Te Toa whenua project's mahi allows me to give back to my whenua as haukainga and is the epitome of my morals and values in regards to our environmental space. I feel pride in knowing that I have a hand in ratifying the maemae that has been left behind and our native nursery mahi is an integral component of Te Toa Whenua and our land restoration aspirations.
- Freda Walker – Te Toa Whenua Nursery Manager