2015 Project Highlight – Native Nature Kaitoki in New Zealand

by isvolunteers on Tuesday, 12 January 2016

This season, ISV ran a new volunteer project in the north island of New Zealand, where participants made a a tangible impact on the environmental, economic and social challenges confronting the local Maori people.

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ISV volunteers made a tangible impact at Native Nature Kaitoki through helping to address the environmental, economic and social challenges confronting the local community. (c) New Zealand Herald.

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Native Nature Kaitoki is owned and operated by a local Maori family who have lived on these ancestral lands for 15 generations. (c) ISV

Native Nature Kaitoki is part of Emanuera farm – a picturesque estate in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand. It’s owned and operated by a local Maori family who have lived on these ancestral lands for 15 generations.

The farm is home to stunning native forests, with plants that are unique to the far north of New Zealand such as the Puriri, Taraire and the largest tree in country, the great Kauri. Pristine water once flowed through the estate, providing a habitat for fish life and vertabrates. It was also a source of drinking water for locals.

Despite the inherent beauty of Emanuera farm, the state of the forest and the health of the water has slowly declined over the past decade due to the introduction of non-endemic species. High unemployment and a struggling economy has also presented challenges for the local community.

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ISV has a five year goal to plant 160,000 Manuka trees at Native Nature Kaitoki. (c) New Zealand Herald

In 2015, ISV sent two groups of volunteers to Native Nature Kaitoki to work alongside the landowners to make a difference. Our groups planted over 27,600 Manuka trees across the edges of the waterways, which will help to ensure high quality water for native fish species and drinking water for future generations of iwi (family).

These Manuka plants also produce Manuka honey, which is famous for its antiseptic healing properties. This honey can be harvested and sold, which has great economic benefit to the local community, generating new employment opportunities. The success of this initiative will hopefully also encourage other farmers in the area facing similar environmental challenges to pursue sustainable solutions such as this.

Through planting trees alongside local landowners, ISV volunteers also had the opportunity to learn about Maori people and their beliefs. Looking after the land is an important part of Maori culture. It is said in Maoridom, “if Papatuanuku (earth mother) is healthy, then so are the people.” Through planting trees, volunteers are also helping to strengthen the social capital of the iwi.

ISV has a five year goal to plant 160,000 Manuka trees and are thrilled with the achievements of our first groups this season. We were even featured in the local news! Through addressing the environmental, social and economic challenges in Native Nature Kaitoki alongside locals, we have the ability to make the most meaningful and substantial change!

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Our groups planted over 27,600 Manuka trees across the edges of the waterways this season, which will help to ensure high quality water and provides a source of income through the production of Manuka honey. (c) ISV

Here’s what some of ISV volunteers had to say about their time at Native Nature Kaitoki this season:

“I had an amazing experience in New Zealand! I have made memories here that I will carry with me for the rest of my life! I have been learning about sustainable practices that I will carry with me into my professional career.” – Colby Kinsella

“An amazing experience that will stick with me for a lifetime.” – Anna Shadbolt

“I had a life changing experience and couldn’t have asked for a better group and better leaders. Loved the work and the people.” – Samuel Moore

To find out more about ISV’s life-changing volunteer projects in New Zealand and opportunities for 2016, visit www.isvolunteers.org

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“An amazing experience that will stick with me for a lifetime” said Anna Shadbolt of her time with ISV at Native Nature Kaitoki. (c) ISV

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