Cultural land advisor to help Kaikōura farmers “get ahead of the game”

Returning to Kaikōura is like returning home for acting cultural land management advisor Makarini Rupene.

"I have a lot of whanau up in Kaikōura who always used to say to me 'This is your home'.  I love it up there and I have a lot of friends and family I'm looking forward to catching up with," he said.

Makarini studied marine biology in Kaikōura 23 years ago, and still enjoys diving and fishing there.

He was recently seconded from his role as an Environment Canterbury regional parks ranger to acting cultural management advisor working specifically to support Kaikōura farmers as part of the Kaikōura Plains Recovery Project.

Understanding and implementing mahinga kai values

He will work with local farmers and industry groups, to understand the importance of mahinga kai and how they can incorporate mahinga kai values in managing their farms.  Under new rules for farm environment plans, farmers are expected to understand and implement, a mahinga kai component.

Educating people about mahinga kai is an exciting opportunity for Makarini who grew up immersed in the knowledge of how important the environment, water and biodiversity species were.

"It's part of who I am and the way I was brought up. I spent a lot of time with our elders, my grandfather, my great uncles growing up so I took on board a lot of their values and understanding of our world and the world we live in.

Catching eels"Being a cultural land management advisor is making people aware that if they just change certain things or how they utilise the land, the river, the water, that can have a beneficial knock on effect for not only water quality and mahinga kai, but also for different recreational and community groups."

Kaikōura Plains Recovery Project manager Jodie Hoggard said Makarini’s secondment would allow Kaikōura farmers to get ahead of the game with the opportunity to have face-to-face consultation about mahinga kai.

“It’s about putting everything they need on a plate and making it as easy as possible for them to get back on their feet,” she said.

A huge cultural step forward for Kaikōura Water Zone Committee

Kaikōura Water Zone Committee rūnanga representative Gina Solomon said Makarini's appointment to the zone was a "huge cultural step forward".

As an rūnanga representative on the Hurunui Waiau Zone Committee and an active member in other rūnanga meetings regarding the Canterbury Water Management Strategy, Makarini was an ideal person to take on the role and help farmers understand mahinga kai values, Gina said.

"When Makarini speaks you listen because he always has good information to share and learnings to take on board.  He is well versed and knowledgeable in cultural values and matters."