Source: Department of Conservation
Date: 16 April 2021
“Kaimahi for Nature Connection will provide immersive, nature connection experiences to approximately 18,000 five to 18-year-olds and connect with all schools in the top of the South Island and on the West Coast as far south as Hokitika,” says DOC Northern South Island Operations Director Roy Grose.
“The programme will also have biodiversity benefits through involving young people in action for nature, working with community conservation groups.
“It will be led by educational programme-provider Whenua Iti Outdoors in partnership with local iwi, supported by $980,000 of funding through Jobs for Nature.
“Kaimahi For Nature Connection will connect schools, whanau and communities to the whenua and collaborate with existing community conservation projects to provide opportunities for biodiversity action, learning, connection and discovery.
“The nature connection experiences are intended to improve social and mental wellbeing which is particularly important at this time given the impacts of Covid-19. It will also build skills, confidence, passion and caring for the natural environment.”
Mark Bruce-Miller, General Manager, Whenua Iti Outdoors says, “At Whenua Iti Outdoors we already offer environmental education and nature connection experiences as part of our existing programmes at primary and secondary level. This funding allows us to make it a focus with a clear set of objectives and outcomes that tie into local and national strategies for biodiversity.”
Whenua Iti Outdoors developed the nature connection programme in partnership with local iwi and conservation groups. Versions of the programme have been trialled and proved successful. When first offered in 2019, all 1000 places in the programme were filled within days of being offered to schools. Whenua Iti Outdoors will work with local iwi to further develop and weave more mātauranga Māori – knowledge and principles – into the programme.
The Kaimahi for Nature Connection investment will create jobs for six people and extra hours for two existing staff to deliver the programme.
The Government’s Mahi mō te Taiao | Jobs for Nature programme is a $1.245 billion investment in the creation of nature-based jobs. As a part of this programme the Department of Conservation will allocate $500 million to projects that will create 6,000 nature-based jobs over a four-year period.
It is supercharging the conservation efforts of DOC, iwi and hapū, councils, and the wider community to implement kaitiakitanga. This funding will help restore the mauri and mana of Te Taiao (our nature) by controlling pests and weeds, restoring wetlands, and returning native bush, rivers, and streams to health.
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