The Government's putting nearly $5 million into protecting brown kiwis around Whakatāne from possums.
The new predator-free Korehaha Whakahau project, to be led by Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, was announced by Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage and Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau this afternoon.
"This is an ambitious project designed to remove possums completely from the area bordered by the Whakatāne River, Ōhope beach, and the Ōhiwa Harbour," Sage said.
"It will use the latest predator detection and trapping techniques."
The five-year project is expected to create 10 jobs immediately and another 30 within a year.
Fletcher Tabuteau said the roles were for people who were looking for work following the Whakaari eruption and Covid-19 downturn in Whakatāne.
"The funding will help Ngāti Awa retain its workforce in the short-term while helping build its long-term aspiration to create viable sustainable employment opportunities."
The Eastern Bay of Plenty has retained important populations of kiwi, weka, kōkako, New Zealand falcon/kārearea, Australasian bittern/matuku, Banded rail/moho pererū and New Zealand robin/toutouwai, which have the potential to benefit from enhanced predator control and restoration efforts.
Korehaha Whakahau is the eighth large landscape project funded by Predator Free 2050 Limited, under the Provincial Growth Fund, and the first to be delivered by an iwi entity.
Sage said the project builds on the predator control work of community organisations, councils and the Department of Conservation in the area, which has helped a population of around 300 North Island brown kiwi close to Whakatāne.
"It enables a mātauranga lens to be brought to the predator-free mission."
The iwi will work closely with partner organisations, groups and funders to create a network of monitoring devices and traps, and defensive lines across 4700ha of private, public and Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa-owned land.