Pungarehu Marae in Whanganui River Rd will benefit from the PS Waimarie riverboat tourism venture's move to offset its 2021 carbon emissions.
The Pungarehu Whenua Project Working Group, which comprises about 15 people including adviser Louise Oskam and permaculture practitioners, aims to restore the land around Pungarehu Marae to its original glory.
The group's planting project will receive $4000 from the Waimarie Operating Trust.
Adrian Firmin, one of the project managers, said the work would cover quite a big area, including riparian planting by a creek and on the Whanganui River bank to mitigate flooding.
The group wants heritage fruit trees, harakeke for weaving, medicinal plants for rongoa, pioneer species and plants that will attract birds. The project will educate people on the value of the taiao (environment) and demonstrate kaitiakitanga.
There was a lot to do, Firmin said. Stock must be fenced out, and Horizons Regional Council was providing some funding for that. Exotic plants and weeds like gorse and blackberry have to be removed.
Whanganui Riverboat Centre manager Phil Pollero said he was happy with the decision to support the Pungarehu project.
"This is about celebrating something that we think is great for us and for local iwi," Pollero said.
The two trusts that run the Waimarie riverboat were essentially looking after a public entity or icon, Waimarie Operating Trust chairman Stuart Hylton said. It was a not-for-profit enterprise, but ran on business principles.
Board members looked to their environmental footprint as part of good governance.
Pollero calculated the business' carbon footprint, taking into account electricity use, rubbish removal and other factors. Running the paddle steamer on coal was by far the biggest generator of emissions.
He used the carbon calculator on the EKOS website to work out that total emissions for the 2021 year came to 80 tonnes of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.
The boat burns a high-quality coal from the opencast Birchfield Coal Mines near Reefton and Greymouth. It has a high calorific value and burns more cleanly than lower-grade coals.
It takes 14 to 20 sacks of coal to fuel each return trip to Upokongaro.
"We could offset that by going to companies in New Zealand that plant forests. Our preference was to offset it with a local project," Pollero said.
The trusts looked for projects that were ready for funding, and they found the Pungarehu Whenua Project Working Group.
The Waimarie trust members plan to roll up their sleeves and help with the planting.
The $4000 spend this year wasn't really spare cash, Hylton said. The business has had two good years but was still getting about $65,000 a year from Whanganui District Council to enable it to operate for an extra month at each end of the summer season.
He was not sure whether the Waimarie business might be the first in Whanganui to publicly offset its carbon emissions.
"I think everyone is looking at their environmental footprint. If we are indeed leading the way then others may want to follow and find something similar," he said.
They will be looking for another project to offset next year's emissions, and Pollero said Whanganui's Kokohuia Wetland project could be ready by then.