WWF's Conservation Innovation Awards

Gathering votes
Gathering votes

He Manawa Whenua - He Oranga Tangata : Healthy Environment – Healthy People

Ko Titirangi te maunga. Ko Uawanui-a-Ruamatua te awa. Ko Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti te Iwi

Idea submitted by: Te Aitanga A Hauiti, Uawa Tolaga Bay Community,  Allan Wilson Centre.

Our idea for nature is to use the vision of an Iwi and community for its future to drive and sustain a healthy environment and healthy people in the long term.   Linking cultural growth, scientific knowledge, economic and social development.

Te Aitanga A Hauiti and the Uawa Tolaga Bay community are integrating their long term approach to economic development, social and cultural renaissance and environmental restoration.  

The Uawanui Project booklet outlines the development of this idea. http://www.allanwilsoncentre.ac.nz/massey/fms...klet_LOWREZ.pdf.

What New Zealand conservation problem are you trying to solve?

Sustaining environmental health and biodiversity restoration as part of long term Iwi and community wellbeing.

Conservation projects often struggle for long term sustainability and support for action to restore ecosystems.  Conservation needs to be integrated into everyday life.

What makes your idea new and unique?

This idea is game changing in the long term.  It is not an instant solution but will provide a model for other Iwi and communities.  key features that combine to make it different and unique:

·         Driven by Iwi and community values

·         Integration of school, education and research

·         Links cultural, social, environmental and economic objectives and action

·         Logical catchment and coastal landscape

·         Working concurrently on long term vision and local action

Who will use your idea, and how will it make conservation action more efficient or effective?

As identified above this project will provide a model to help other Iwi and communities around New Zealand.  It will identify how to go about building a new approach to managing conservation that is integrated with their economic and social development.  Refinement of this approach has potential to achieve much broader based and sustainable biodiversity conservation throughout New Zealand.   

What tasks or activities do you need investment for ? How would you spend a $25,000 grant?

Grant will support:

·         Science speakers and conservation training resources for school and community

·         Training a group of local Uawanui cadets who can support and mentor others in undertaking conservation projects.

 ·         Communication of project locally and to other communities. 

Are you a New Zealand citizen or resident?


Which category best describes your idea?

Community Project

I have read the Terms of Use, the Supplemental Terms of Use, and Community Guidelines - see links at the bottom of this page


List five other ideas posted in the challenge that excite you. Why?

Kids Greening Taupo:  Like the student / young person led aspect and links to education - we have experienced at Uawa how valuable this can be.  Happy to share ideas.  

Vespex wide area wasp control:  A major problem in parts of NZ and needs innovative solutions.

Live trap and retreat - lizard monitoring:  Important creatures that could provide extra value in terms of biodiversity monitoring.  Fantastic for getting the wider public engaged.    

Fishes friend:  internationally valuable technology idea

Its not the dogs fault:  Dogs a major challenge that needs to be addressed

How could you improve your idea?

Communication around the project is key.  We know that the main and most important focus must be on communication within the community and project.  So that all people understand the project vision and the work that is being done.  We are also beginning to promote the project more widely, and involvement in this awards process provides an opportunity for that. However there is a strong feeling from the community that we want to really demonstrate by doing - it is a long pathway with many small projects.

Economic security of the project is a key component.  The project has at its heart key partners who are committed and part of the community.  The school, Marae, major Maori farming incorporations are long term partners. Cropping companies, forestry companies, agencies etc are also involved.


edited on Oct 1, 2015 by Peter Handford

EcoGecko Consultants Sep 23, 2015

An interesting idea, Peter. Are you able to utilize the ideas and experiences of Reconnecting Northland (http://reconnectingnorthland.org.nz/)? Are you able to collaborate with them so that they can learn from your project?

Another question - relating to what I call "organisational memory". You propose to have science speakers and conservation training resources, as well as training of local Uawanui cadets - this will help form and retain this "memory" in conservation practices. How will you be able to support the cadets, especially, post-funding? Loss of key staff often mean loss of knowledge. Funding is always an issue (I know the problem too well!). What is your long-term financial strategy?

There is sometimes conflict between culture and conservation science - how will you resolve situations where culture (actually, this is more of a lack of understanding of the situation) influences decisions that affect conservation?

Could you investigate in communication of your project nationally, not just locally?

Reply 1

Nori Parata Sep 23, 2015

In relation to the cadets - they come from senior students in the school (15-18 year olds).  The BOT has committed to the longterm development of the Uawanui curriculum and resourced accordingly.  However, we are small school and require an injection of additional expertise to work with cadets and upskill teachers and locals. The land incorporations, the Hauiti Centre of Excellence, and DOC have committed to Uawanui longterm and although how this might work as a longterm financial strategy is yet to be worked through, where there's a will there's a way.

Over the five years of development there has been no conflict between culture and conservation. The local marae, hapu and iwi have been involved in all areas of the project, and the exchange of scientific/conservation knowledge and matauranga Hauiti has been one of the stand out features that has underpinned a relationship of reciprocity, built on trust and respect.

We have greatly benefitted from the scientific expertise that has been brought to us. However, this is a community/iwi project where we are responsbile for the decisions we make, and the consequences of those decisions. Our development through this project has strengthened our ability to seek expertise, respect diverse opinion and have difficult conversations. We are yet to be tested on an issue that divides us.

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EcoGecko Consultants Sep 23, 2015

Hi Nori - thank you - you have clearly worked hard at this project. It seems there is really good communication here with all project partners. You have my vote. I wish you the best of luck!

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Nori Parata Sep 23, 2015

Thanks for your vote EcoGecko!  Much appreciated.


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Peter Handford Sep 23, 2015

Kia ora EcoGecko.  Nori answers most your points - and is in a far better position than me to respond.  Over the 30 odd years I've been involved in conservation and sustainable land management projects in NZ I can't think of a project that has the level of connection and potential long term strength of the Uawanui project.  Re the re-connecting Northland project, yes have been strongly involved and continue to work with David Mules and others to share ideas.  The intention is definitely to communicate the project nationally.  This is already occurring and will be enhanced.

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EcoGecko Consultants Sep 23, 2015

Thank you, Peter - There will be a website?



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Peter Handford Sep 24, 2015

Thanks for your supportive comments Trent, and your vote.  There probably will be a website - though it is most encouraging to see the project being integrated through school newsletters, local facebook pages etc.  Still continuing to develop and refine exactly what the best ongoing communication mechanisms are - as usual there is a need for a wide range of concurrent approaches.

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View all replies (6)

Nori Parata Sep 23, 2015

Nga mihi o te wa ki a tatau! We have loved every minute of the journey we have begun with Project Uawanui - adventure, exploration, greater understanding of our environment and its ecosystems.  The kids are so much more aware and actively interested in nature and its connectedness.  The Bioblitz was fabulous - 300 busy children and young people, alongside parents/whanau and scientists totally engaged in foraging and discovering the flora and fauna that coexists with us here in our slice of paradise. The kids enjoyed sharing and learning cultural knowledge that their tipuna have handed down to them about the kaitiaki of the river and wahi tapu. We have transformed our curriculum at school to include Uawanui as a integral part of our learning from Y1 - 13. We are excited by the development of our NCEA Uawanui Sustainability course which the students love, primarily because they are out and about on their learning missions - pest control, monitoring and helping to save the Pekapeka (native bat) and the Tuturiwhatu (NZ Dotterel), restoring the pipi beds at the Kaitawa estuary, and working with the scientists to increase their knowledge and understanding in so many areas.  They are always excited when they return to school and relate their work to anyone willing to listen, and they love posting photos of the pests they have trapped. They are proud of their work - it has meaning, a context, and they achieve standards (with merit and excellence I might add) towards their NCEA qualifications.

Ooops, this wasn't meant to be this long, and I really could wax lyrical about this as we have so many stories to tell, but I won't.  Ka nui tena mo tenei wa!

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Tammy Steeves Sep 24, 2015

Bravo! This is such an exciting initiative. You might be interested in the 'eureka moment' we just described in our idea: https://wwf-nz.crowdicity.com/post/158737. If you're keen to explore opportunities for collaboration, please let us know!

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Pele Takurua Sep 24, 2015

Our students have enjoyed learning about and being part of the 'Manawa Whenua, Oranga Tangata' project. They are our future kaitiaki, and this kaupapa has helped us all to restore and plan ahead to maintain a healthy Uawa.

Nga mihi ki te kaupapa

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Misty Hauiti Sep 25, 2015

Teaching in the Junior Syndicate has been an on- going learning for our students. The learning of Flora and Fauna was a great learning for all the students. There understanding of good plants and what they do, along with the not so good plants that destroy the habitat around our awa. This has made the students aware of keeping it clean and green.

The junior students watch with eagerness as our older students take pride in their caretaking of the awa and its surroundings. Learning that if well cared for that in time they too will have a responsibility of carrying on the caretaking of our Uawanui a Ruamatua Sustainability.

Ae, Tino mihi ki te kaupapa.

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Clive Bibby Sep 30, 2015

As a landowner who watches the Uawa catchment pollution hurling past on the swollen river during floods, I am reminded that this doesn't need to happen. We can all play our part in stabilising the high quality grazing land that supports our economy in various ways. The Uawa community, mainly the School pupils, are doing their bit at the river mouth but the real effort needs to happen on the banks of the main water courses and tributaries beginning at the head of the catchment. Bit by bit, the source of the pollution ( pine tree waste, soil and animal waste and excess fertiliser ) is choked off from entering the rivers and ceases to be a pollutant further down stream. The most efficient way to block the entry is to plant the banks of the water courses with trees, shrubs and grasses that form a strategic sieve through which the water from the land must pass. As much as I admire and support the school and the Uawa community for this worthy project, the real responsibility for building this barrier is and has always been with the landowners on the river banks who cleared the heavy foliage in the first place. We are the ones who should be doing the replanting because without it all other efforts to return the catchment to a sustainable area will sadly be in vain. However, the school kids are setting a good example. We should follow their leadership. Kia kaha.


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Lee Barry Oct 1, 2015

Status changed to Finalist
This idea has passed all the milestones and is now eligible for judging by WWF's expert panel. But feel free to keep the comments flowing!

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Lee Barry Nov 4, 2015

Status changed to WINNER
Congratulations to the people of Uawa Tolaga Bay for creating a powerful vision for their whenua which is inclusive and community-driven. Across the board engagement means everyone has a stake in success. There is much to be learned for other communities from this approach.

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