Every day Tame Malcolm works with organisations to control pests all around the country. Now the Te Arawa man wants to help Maori do it themselves.

Malcolm is the director of Puna Consultants, a company that implements pest control programmes in forests, farms and other locations. He's also general manager of Te Tira Whakamataki, Maori Biosecurity Network.

"I thought, 'I go all over the country doing this and I can't even look after my own whenua'," Malcolm said.

"We've got to look after our marae first."

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So Malcolm launched Te Mahanga, an initiative to make Te Arawa marae pest-free.

Tame Malcolm, (left) with Holly Wharewera from Rotoiti 15 and Taipari McLeod, the Hinemihi Marae chairman. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER
Tame Malcolm, (left) with Holly Wharewera from Rotoiti 15 and Taipari McLeod, the Hinemihi Marae chairman. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER

It's supported by the Department of Conservation and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

With help from the Rotoiti 15 Trust, Malcolm has taken rat traps to a handful of marae in the Okataina catchment and hopes to distribute them to others.

He said pests became more of an issue in winter when rodents looked to come in from the cold.

Malcolm, who was originally from Rotorua, said Maori wanted to be able to do things themselves which was why he wanted to give them those tools.

"Marae are really sacred to us, we've got to look after our marae first," Malcolm said.

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"The plan is to give them the tools and show how they can use them.

"It doesn't have to be the Government telling iwi and hapu what to do, especially since we're wanting to be the kaitiaki of the land."

Hinemihi Marae chairman Taipari McLeod said the marae was on board with the project. They received two traps from Malcolm last Friday.

Malcolm hoped the project would start a conversation.

"I'm hoping that, if this is successful, Pest Free New Zealand 2050 will look at funding it across the country. Everywhere I go they have the same issues. Marae want to work in their own space."

Rotoiti 15 Trust has also been involved in the project. Administrator Holly Wharewera said the marae they had already visited were just the beginning.

Malcolm is encouraging marae around the country to get in touch if they are interested in getting a rat trap, by emailing thomas@punaconsultants.com.