A carbon farming business focused on restoring land, its people and its prosperity has opened an office in Marton.
Tāmata Hauhā was launched in 2021 and works primarily with Māori land owners to provide them with strategies and funding to develop their land holdings and make them more productive, primarily through forestry.
Tāmata Hauhā provides the finance for purchasing trees, preparing the land, planting the trees and managing the forest created, as well as carrying out all the administration, including dealings with Government departments and liaising with land ownership groups.
Founder and chief executive Blair Jamieson said the company was based in the Marton office but had developments all over the country, including four in the Whanganui region, two on Whanganui River Road, one in Pākaraka and one in Kai Iwi.
Developing some of the lands in the region had been a challenge, as the land they worked with was marginal land which was in poor shape when they arrived, Jamieson said.
“We’ve turned up to places like up the Whanganui River, and you’ve got to clear the whole place of gorse and blackberry, so I go up there and remove all the pests and start again,” he said.
This was due to much Māori-owned land lying idle and undeveloped, Jamieson said.
A study by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) found 80 per cent of Māori-owned land was operating at well below industry standards and 40 per cent of that land was essentially undeveloped.
This meant the cost to redevelop the land to make it viable for production was prohibitive for owners, Jamieson said.
Tāmata Hauhā pays for the costs of land development, with the profits of selling New Zealand Emission Units through the Emissions Trading Scheme split 50/50 between the company and the land owners.
Jamieson said the work the company had done so far had not only been good for the land, but also good for the people who lived on the land.
“We’ve seen patches come off people’s backs, we’ve seen whānau come home, and we couldn’t be prouder of the mahi that we’re doing in that space.”
Climate Change Minister James Shaw, who was at the opening, said the business showed real changes people were making for the environment outside Wellington policy-making.
“It is a privilege and a very special opportunity to be here as you open this site today, because it’s where the theory meets reality,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Tāmata Hauhā staff showed Shaw around a plot of transitional forestry they had established.
Transition forests are a plot of fast-growing exotic trees, such as pine trees, planted in a way that allows light to an under-storey of native trees growing alongside them.
Shaw said the site in Shannon was experimenting with multiple models of transition forestry to see which would be most effective and hoped to work out ways for transitional forests to become a more widespread feature of national land use.
“Particularly ... in landlocked or marginal areas of land, in areas of land that frankly should never have been cut down in the first place, where it’s so steep and so erosion-prone and so hard to make any other economic use out of,” he said.
With any luck, the work Tāmata Hauhā was doing could be replicated elsewhere, but each region, including Whanganui, would have its own challenges for implementing it, Shaw said.
“Anything with a biological system is going to have regional variances, and so this really is about having the right trees in the right place.
“It’s about bringing the science together with the economics and saying, ‘What is the model that works?’”
He expected there would be opportunities for transition forestry to be implemented in Whanganui, as well as all over the country.
With the office established, Jamieson said Tāmata Hauhā would be planting on six plots of land in the Whanganui and Rangitīkei regions and have around five million trees planted nationwide by the end of this year.