“When the whenua thrives, we thrive as a people.” My good friend Joanna Barbarich once said that over a warm brew on a cold day. For some reason it stuck with me.
I was fortunate to be raised with the outlook of being of the whenua, to be fascinated by what’s happening in our environment of which we are a part of. Having a grandfather who was a rural accountant and hunter gave me a love for our agricultural sector and in particular the back blocks of the East Coast sheep and beef country.
It is here that there’s mingling between bush and farm, between high value biodiversity and productive farming systems. Usually there’s an overlap. When our soil is rich in biodiversity, when we aren’t carrying extra stock units through feral deer & possum numbers, when soil is staying on the hill and not ending up in our waterways we have more productive farms. It’s that simple.
Strangely I have found myself in the role of helping our communities understand the biodiversity around them. Usually when we take time to understand a species, the ecosystem services it supports as well as the services it provides to our farming systems we start to care about it. When we care about a species we are inclined to protect it and when we protect species we all of a sudden have thriving on farm biodiversity. It’s all about finding the value in on farm biodiversity to our farming systems and identifying the easy wins.
Typically our sheep and beef farmers are asset rich, cash poor and time poor. It’s my job in my role as NZ Landcare Trust Catchments Coordinator in Tairawhiti to help them find the funding and labour models that work for them. At the end of the day it’s about finding farmers the tools they need to look after taonga that belong to all of us. If this biodiversity belongs to us all then it’s for the entire community to support our farmers in protecting it. This concept could be considered as ‘Kaipupuritanga’.