An ambition to genuinely engage and not just “tick a box” has driven a planting project for Fonterra staff and local iwi.
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DAVID UNWIN/STUFF Aimee Wang from the Fonterra Research and Development Centre plants a cabbage tree along the Turitea Stream.

Fonterra Research and Development Centre worked with Rangitāne to plant 1000 trees along the Turitea Stream on Thursday.

The planting involved about 60 people and was focused near the Urban Eels platform along He Ara Kotahi pathway.

The research centre’s general manger of innovation services Pierre Venter said the idea stemmed from talkswith iwi as a part of a stormwater consultation renewal.

“We thought we would go that step further and engage with iwi to see how we could really help, instead of just ticking the box.”

Venter said two major objectives came from those conversations, the first being the planting of trees along the waterway, and the second Rangitānes desire to survey the stream, from the Urban Eels site to the research and development centre.

“We are really trying to embed the Fonterra mana around sustainability as one of our long term aspirations, and as a research centre we really wanted to contribute to that as well.

“This is it in real life, which is awesome.”

Fonterra research and development employees plant trees along Turitea Stream.
DAVID UNWIN/STUFF Fonterra research and development employees plant trees along Turitea Stream.

Rangtāne member Paul Horton was on site representing Te ao Turoa, the environmental advisory office of Tanenuiarangi Manawatū Inc.

He opened the event with a karakia and gave volunteers a brief history of the site.

Horton conducted the fishery research along the stream and said it showed an increase in water life, indicating improvements to water quality had been successful.

There were marked increases in populations of lamprey and eel, as well as the discovery of fresh water shrimp.

He said any concerns around Fonterra’s contribution to unsafe waterways had been diminished after research showed their effect was minimal aside from a small amount of runoff into the stormwater.

Fonterra responded by installing an isolation valve to remove the risk of anything other than rain water from their site entering the stream ecosystem.

Steve Holroy prepares another shrub for planting.
DAVID UNWIN/STUFF Steve Holroy prepares another shrub for planting.

The research centre’s former Māori business manager Mitchell Crosswell said that the company had a strategy to work work closely with Māori across their sites nationwide.

“As mana whenua, it’s about acknowledging the land, the water, the people, and we have so much to learn from that, so it’s about reaching out to iwi and saying ‘how can we support you?’ ‘What more can we do to help in that space?’

“And we are happy to be guided by them. It’s about what we can learn by listening. This is an example of that. We are down here working together, it’s not what is best for one or the other, it’s for the benefit of everybody.”


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