The Government's One Billion Trees scheme is starting to pay dividends in Northland, with 20 young men from Kaikohe and Moerewa starting on the new Ngā Māhuri o Ngāti Hine Mānuka Plantation Training Programme where they will earn while they learn.

They will start their journey as forestry industry trainees on Monday, in the first part of a two-year programme funded by the Billion Tree fund through Te Uru Rākau and supported by the Ministry for Primary Industries Economic Development Unit.

Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust is partnering with Johnson Contractors to deliver a "learn while you earn" approach to L2 Forestry Training.

Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust chairman Pita Tipene said: "Ngā Māhuri o Ngāti Hine means the saplings of Ngāti Hine; this is an industry training programme which embodies the kaupapa of Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust Mission – He Ringa Ahuwhenua, He Hanga Mahi, to actively grow our assets. These akonga (learners) are our hapū and community assets".


Tipene said the planting of manuka is all about the trust's long term strategy of a mosaic approach that will see the land being returned to native cover.

''The programme will see our 2019 trainees plant about 200ha of mānuka seedlings on Ngāti Hine lands. In 2020, a course will run with another 20 trainees to plant additional Ngāti Hine lands up to a total of 400-plus ha.''

Jack Johnson of Johnson Contractors is an experienced industry-based trainer.

"Partnering with Ngāti Hine Forestry Trust is an exciting opportunity for us; trainees will strengthen their connection to Te Ao Maori, receive wrap around pastoral support and learn while they earn," Johnson said.

Ngā Māhuri o Ngāti Hine will launch on Monday at 10am at Otiria Marae in Moerewa where trainees, whānau, partners and industry stakeholders will gather to celebrate the commencement of this new initiative located in the Mid North.