WWF has been exploring how best to support indigenous-led climate change response advocacy in Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific. Particularly adaptation strategies and activities directly within indigenous communities.
Within Aotearoa New Zealand, we have worked with Te Hātete Trust of Ngāti Wehi Wehi on a project in the Horowhenua region: Ngā pae o te maramatanga Te Hātete: He huringa āhuarangi, he huringa ao. A changing climate, a changing world.
Te Hātete Trust has two coastal land blocks. Whānau members have been involved in local wetland restoration projects for over 25 years, and active in climate change adaptation strategies research for the last six years.
The Oceania First Voices project began with a series of hui and a wānanga. Te Hātete Trust undertook a drone flyover of both blocks to ascertain the areas of restoration. One coastal block is right on the beach and the other further inland, spreading the risk from sea level rise.
From there, with WWF support, the Trust were able to implement their action plan for climate resilience and advocacy. Ahead of a riparian planting in winter, the site was weeded and fenced. Two kilometres of fencing and 1500 native plants. Matched funding from the Regional Council was secured for fencing, site preparation and 200 kahikatea seedlings were donated.
Purchasing a Biochar kiln was also part of the project. Biochar is a technique of burning small pieces of wood to help with water filtering, carbon sequestration, soil amendment, animal bedding and feed supplements.
As well as the practical climate change mitigation work, advocacy and building connections with other indigenous groups and encouraging rangatahi involvement were important components of the project.
WWF and Te Hātete Trust’s Project Coordinator Moira Poutama presented on the important role of mātauranga Māori in climate adaptation plans. The Trust also hosted and exchanged knowledge with youth group 4th Gen of Ngāti Kuri, who are also involved in the Oceania First Voices initiative.
Moira Poutama says “We are now in the second phase of fencing and planting. Whānau feedback was that this opportunity to actively participate in action on the ground that supports our Taiao was enormously appreciated. We look forward to an enhanced riparian stream system on our ancestral lands and sharing our experiences with other indigenous communities in the future.”
Image: WWF-New Zealand Board members join Trust members and Dr Aroha Spinks on a planting day, June 2023.