A wide range of projects promoting biodiversity across Whanganui, Ruapehu and Rangitīkei have received a helping hand from Horizons Regional Council.
Projects range from reintroducing titipounamu (rifleman) to Bushy Park Tarapuruhi, to protecting te uru hīnau (hinau groves) on the Whanganui River and collating mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) about the trees.
The new Kanorau Koiora Taketake Indigenous Biodiversity Community Grant fund had $260,000 available - it received 37 applications for a total of $1 million, and 21 were successful.
Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Tupoho got $11,000 to for the tools and administration it needs for a three-year project to green and shelter the school and make horticulture teaching possible.
The school board commissioned a permaculture design from gardener Rachel Stephenson last year. It includes an orchard/food forest, shelter plantings and a Te Pae Maharahara memorial garden with rongoā.
They would add to the māra kai (food garden) the children already loved, Stephenson said.
The kura has a grant from the Matariki Tu Rākau programme for 600 trees, mulch, stakes and Easy Earth compost. The money from Horizons will pay for the tools, administration and documentation of the planting.
It would have to be done quickly because summer was coming, Stephenson said.
The .4ha site will get a first line of protection from tough native species like ngaio, karo and coprosma, with more delicate species coming behind them.
Castlecliff Coast Care got $5000 to harvest spinifex and pingao seed from the Whanganui coast and grown on in the Coastlands Plant Nursery at Whakatāne. When mature they will be planted on foredunes to stabilise sand.
It was a good boost to the group's work, coordinator Graham Pearson said. Since the Coastal Restoration Trust conference in March, Horizons had been more supportive of coastal issues.
Okoia Enviro-School received $5000, principal Nic Welch said.
The money will be put toward fencing and planting in its three-year project to turn a 1ha paddock into native bush that will provide an outdoor learning space for students.
The project was started with Ministry of Education funding, and has a plan from Gerard Hobbs of St John's Landscaping, advice from ecologist Colin Ogle and support from the Wanganui East Club.
The children have collected seed from nearby Gordon Park Scenic Reserve and grown it for planting. The forest they will establish will add to native bush in the Okoia Valley and support native birds coming to Gordon Park.
"We are absolutely thrilled about getting the grant. It just allows us to keep going with the project. We really appreciate the support from Horizons," Welch said.
The council decided in May to increase contestable biodiversity grant funding over the next 10 years, and also to continue funding five sites.
"Council's vision for this grant is to empower communities to reconnect with and improve biodiversity," Horizons chairwoman Rachel Keedwell said.
"This includes providing resources for projects that support connections between nature and people including mātauranga Māori."
The applications were of a high calibre, and had lots of community support behind them. Councillors Fiona Gordon, John Turkington and Nicola Patrick decided which groups were funded.