Te Runanga o Te Rarawa has been shortlisted for a New Zealand Biosecurity Award.

The iwi's Warawara Whakaora Ake project is one of three finalists for the Te Puni Kokiri Maori Award, while the Northland Regional Council is one of two finalists in the local and central government category, and the council's Sophia Clark is one of two in the running for the emerging leader award.

Warawara Whakaora Ake is described as an example of ground-breaking, collaborative restoration involving one of the world's most important kauri forests, a story of triumph over adversity that provides a living example of how patience, determination and united community-led actions can bring about positive change.

Warawara ngahere, in the North Hokianga, was the spiritual heart of Te Rarawa, the citation added, where mana whenua representatives from 10 local marae were leading a plan involving project partners the Department of Conservation, the Northland Regional Council, Reconnecting Northland and Te Rarawa Anga Mua iwi) to restore more than 13,000ha of the forest to health, while revitalising local kainga.


The mana of the project rested with the local hapu, the other project partners working in supportive roles.

Comprehensive ecological survey work had been completed, and pest control had been under way for the last 18 months. That had included preparing a plan for intensive predator control around populations of the rare titipounamu (North Island rifleman), along with training and skill development for local kaimahi.

The engagement of local mana whenua, in particular future problem solvers, had created new awareness of future risks and opportunities.

The Northland Regional Council's shortlisting recognises its Pest Control Hub, developed as a key tool for reaching biosecurity objectives in its Northland Regional Pest and Marine Pathways Plan 2017-2027.

The intent, the citation said, had been to establish a 'one-stop shop' for everything to do with regional biosecurity, the site including an easy to use search function, pest control advice and information, pest distribution maps, rules and online forms to contact staff for more advice or to report a pest.

Judging panel chairman Dr John Hellstrom said nominations for the awards had revealed a heartening national effort that was being made to safeguard New Zealand's biosecurity.
"We were excited to receive more than 60 very high-calibre entries, making the judging task difficult, but rewarding," he said.

The awards were established two years ago to recognise and celebrate exemplary contributions to protecting taonga and ensuring that the country's biosecurity system remained resilient, effective and world-leading.