Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance
An alliance of councils, iwi and the Department of Conservation in the top of the South Island plans to work collectively with their communities to restore natural landscapes across the region – from west to east and from the mountains to the sea.
Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance includes Buller, Tasman, Nelson, Marlborough and Kaikōura councils, the West Coast Regional Council, a number of iwi in the region and DOC.
The Alliance will provide environmental leadership and coordination in working together and with others to protect and enhance the wider region’s diverse natural landscapes. The landscapes include vast areas of beech forest, eastern dryland, alpine hinterland, the sheltered sounds of Marlborough, freshwater catchments and varied marine environments including extensive intertidal flats and wild and exposed coasts. Hundreds of native plant and animal species live within those landscapes, including some unique to the region.
Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance independent chair Martin Rodd says the Alliance and its strategy are focussed on enabling landscape-scale conservation projects that have environmental, social, economic and cultural benefits.
“Our aspiration is to see the natural environment across the top of the South Island flourishing through ecological restoration over large areas with people caring for and benefiting from the environment and the flourishing nature in turn enriching communities.
“Kotahitanga is about collaboration, working together in collective action with communities, industry and a variety of organisations to achieve conservation gains that enhance and protect Te Taiao, our natural heritage.
“Having this alliance across local government, iwi and DOC enables us to do more together than we can each do on our own to achieve successful landscape-scale conservation across district boundaries and places.
“The Alliance’s leadership and coordination role will include identifying, prioritising and integrating conservation, attracting investment and resources for new conservation work, providing advice and support to conservation projects, and linking new projects with existing projects.
“The Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance Strategy outlines high-level conservation goals and provides guidance and direction on where and how to work. The strategy was developed with the support of natural heritage management practitioners and scientists.
“Core to the strategy is combining science with mātauranga Māori, Māori knowledge and values, recognising the interconnected relationship between the spiritual world, the natural world and people.
“The strategy will change and develop over time as Alliance members engage with their communities and community aspirations are integrated into it.”
Brendan Wilson, Chair of Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō Trust says iwi look forward to achieving significant outcomes across the wider Top of the South area, which without this collaboration might not have been possible.
“The aims and objectives of the Alliance, to achieve large-scale conservation projects with wider social, cultural and economic outcomes, resonates well with iwi and the acceptance from the Alliance to embrace mātauranga Māori concepts as a foundation, ensures that our long-held values of protecting and enhancing our natural environments will have a greater chance of success. We look forward to being part of the process and to share in those successes.”
Marlborough Mayor John Leggett says, like other regions, Marlborough’s indigenous biodiversity is fragile with species at the brink of extinction and ecosystems in a state of collapse. A new approach is urgently needed, he said.
“This strategy, pooling resources and expertise to tackle some agreed targets, makes so much more sense than continuing to work on our own patches. This way we should be able to make some real progress.”
The Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance and Strategy have been developed over the past two years. Currently, five iwi have committed to the Alliance and Strategy including Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō Trust, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Kuia Trust, Ngāti Tama ki Te Waipounamu Trust, Te Ātiawa o Te Waka-a-Māui Trust, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae.
A number of other iwi in the wider region are also considering committing to the Alliance and Strategy and are discussing this within their iwi.