Update on the Koukourārata Wānanga Taiao (Environmental Learning Centre)

Update on the Koukourārata Wānanga Taiao (Environmental Learning Centre)

Launch of the Project: The Koukourārata Wānanga Taiao and partnership between Koukourārata Rūnanga and Lincoln University entities was launched formally with a Pōwhiri at Koukourārata on Saturday, 13 June 2015. Led by Chancellor Tom Lambie, with support from Deputy Vice Chancellor Communities Hirini Matunga, a large group of University and BHU staff plus supporters attended along with rūnanga members.

Steering Group - Te Roopu Manukuia: In July, Koukourārata Rūnanga mandated a group comprising Koukourārata Development Company and Lincoln University. A Steering Group, Te Roopu Manukuia (which is a reference to a lookout at Koukourārata) was mandated including KDC leaders, along with three University representatives (Associate Professor Mick Abbott, Professor Nick Dickinson and Carmelle Riley). Te Roopu Manukuia is chaired by KDC Director Peter Ramsden and has the job of overseeing the partnership of KDC, Koukourārata Rūnanga and Lincoln University including screening any research projects that are to be implemented. Te Roopu Manukuia meets monthly at Koukourārata’s offices on the first Monday of the month (next meeting is 5 October 2015).

Four Pou: The Wānanga Taiao is implementing more than just land –based research. All projects are whānau/hapū focused, operate within the tikanga of Ngati Huikai, Tūtehuawera, and Tūhaitara, and will be guided by Four Pou (Strategic Objectives) which are to build whānau resilience through:

1. Economic Development
2. Education pathways
3. Employment opportunities 4. Bringing whānau home.

Construction of the physical Wānanga (adjacent to Tūtehuawera Marae) is scheduled to start any day with a plan for a structure to be opened by Christmas 2015.

Research & Innovation: Developing projects under the Wānanga Taiao is complex involving collaboration around mara kai (food production) research through to commercialisation and education pathways all with a hapū focus. The

partnership is currently assessing education pathways including the Telford Level 3 Cert of Farming Practice and Level 3 Cert of Organic Horticulture. KDC hold Te Pūtahitanga Funding which has enabled them to employ a Project Manager. A detailed Project Plan guides the whānau-ora (wellbeing) outcomes sought by Te Pūtahitanga.

Taewa: Te Roopu Manukuia has decided that the first project to be developed under the Koukourārata Wānanga Taiao is mara kai or food production, developing the market garden concept to grow taewa, kikiwai and corn. Two gardens will be planted. One developed using the traditional Māori production methods and the other using mainstream organic farming practices. Both teams are working all whānau and other contacts to source taewa seed tubers specific to the Canterbury/Horomaka area. The Biological Husbandry Unit (BHU) is supporting the production of the taewa, along with the options for delivery of education programs.

The School of Landscape Architecture in Design (SOLA) has an interest in telling the story of ‘whenua to plate’ and assisting building a market from the taewa. SOLA is producing a Master Plan and promoting learning through the involvement of students. On Monday, 28 September a group of

around 40 SOLA students will visit the Marae and learn about the project. A bus leaves the University at 9am on Monday. Contact Mick Abbott for information on available spaces on the bus. People are welcome to make their own way over to attend the event at the Marae, which should start at around 10.00am on Monday. If you do intend to travel over, please speak with Mick for catering purposes.

The team: An active team of supporters, scientists and academics have been involved including members of the Runanga, Runanga Development Company (KDC), SOLA, BHU and other University staff. Te Roopu Manukuia will accept and consider any idea for research and welcomes the support of interested people.

Please contact Te Roopu Manukuia Chairperson Peter Ramsden (Ramsden.whanau@clear.net.nz), the Project Co-ordinator Manaia Cunningham (mobile 027 819 3840) or Carmelle Riley (Carmelle.riley@lincoln.ac.nz) for more information on the project and how to engage if you want to pitch an idea to the Steering Group. 

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