Community conservation meets NZ innovation | WWF New Zealand

Community conservation meets NZ innovation

Posted on 04 October 2016   |  
Joe Waikari from DOC shows students from Pourewa Class at Tolaga Bay Area School & Kahukuranui how to set up predator traps around Kaitawa Estuary
© Peter Handford
He Manawa Whenua - He Oranga Tangata (A healthy environment means healthy people).

This is the founding principle of innovative iwi-led Uawanui Project which seeks to integrate conservation efforts alongside economic, social and cultural development and education. The project was a 2015 WWF Conservation Innovation Awards (CIA) winner.

Open from 26 September to 14 October, WWF-New Zealand’s 2016 CIA awards are designed to seek out and reward innovation for those on the frontline of conservation. All ideas are welcome and entries can be submitted via

The Uawanui Project has received overwhelming support from the wider East Coast community – including local voluntary groups and businesses, the farming and forestry industries and the education sector. The $25,000 WWF Awards grant has helped the project develop training, capacity building and communication around the wider Uawanui Project.

Chair of the Uawanui Project Governance Group, Victor Walker, said the CIA funding was “important and valuable in taking forward innovations around the Uawanui Project at Uawa Tolaga Bay”. 

“A huge thanks to WWF for providing this award and to the many supporters who are making this project possible including, the Tolaga Bay Area School and Kahukuranui, the Hauiti Incorporation, Department of Conservation, Gisborne District Council and of course Te Aitanga A Hauiti and the whole Uawa Tolaga Bay community,” Mr Walker said.
Five years ago, the Tolaga Bay community asked the Allan Wilson Centre for evolutionary biology to help it clean up the area’s waterways and create a healthier, more collaborative community. Together they set up the Uawanui Sustainability Project – which aims to restore the environment, economy and wellbeing of the area.

Collaborative and innovative, the Uawanui Project has taken a whole-community approach to improving the environmental health of the Kaituna Estuary. The Hauiti Incorporation has led this estuary restoration work. The project is working to manage activities in the catchment that impact on the Uawa River, and the estuary – a “mountains-to-sea” approach. Uawanui Project’s commitment to conservation won the Protecting our biodiversity category in the 2016 Green Ribbon Awards.

Mr Walker said that the project was centred on input from marae, iwi, individuals, businesses, primary industries, landowners and schools to enable the community to manage the catchment in their everyday activities, with direct benefits to both community and environmental health. 

“Our activities have included trapping pests, weed control, planting and monitoring,” he said. 

One of the key mechanisms for innovation is developing individuals through integration of the Uawanui Project into the school curriculum. An Uawanui Sustainability class is provided through different levels of the Tolaga Bay Area School, providing a practical pathway to future knowledge and cultivating environmental leaders. 

WWF-New Zealand is now searching the country again—from research labs to garden sheds and everywhere in between—for new CIA ideas that could change the face of conservation. Prize packages of $25,000 will be awarded to each of the three winning entries. The Awards are supported by The Tindall Foundation.

Joe Waikari from DOC shows students from Pourewa Class at Tolaga Bay Area School & Kahukuranui how to set up predator traps around Kaitawa Estuary
© Peter Handford Enlarge
E Tipu Kohanga Reo children Parinuitera and BJ watch Koka Mihi Love as she shows them how to plant a tree.
© Peter Handford Enlarge


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