Youth get stuck into local biodiversity project
The Mayors Taskforce for Jobs programme is about far more than solely placing youth in sustainable employment.
It is also about building relationships and community engagement, while understanding proper work ethics.
The current taskforce at Hurunui District Council has been working on a biodiversity project on Kereone Farm at Mouse Point.
Farm owner John Faulkner envisioned bringing cultural and environmental aspects into the farming mix, subsequently coming up with the concept of restoring the Twin Bridges to the Waiau Township and using his farm as a central point.
“It is such a magical spot, so why not try to restore it and bring back the species that were once here?” he said.
The project involves clearing the area of weeds and predators that are damaging threatened plant and animal life, to create a biodiversity corridor encouraging native planting and growth.
With the help of the taskforce, 64-72 different rare and unique plant species have been put in the ground, and John has another 1000 plants to be planted this season.
Having had a strong association with Māori over his lifetime, John plans to create a site based on the concept of a nohoanga, which is historically a place of gathering for Māori.
“I have opportunity to create something truly unique here and a chance to introduce these older cultural values into modern farming practices, which is great”.
John adds that he intends the area to be a learning site for the whole community and hopes to get local schools involved.
“What I am doing is pretty out there and it will take time. It will all be worth it once the community experiences it.”
John said the rest of the project is happening organically, with farm owners adjacent to the Waiau Uwha River taking on their own restoration projects without following his lead.
Business Partnership Advisor Chris King said that involvement in activities like this benefit the youth in a huge way, not only through a hard day’s work, but also through people like John.
“This project has been awesome for the youth. It’s great to connect them with people in the community who are doing great things.”