We are a group of very hard working, dedicated people aged between 16 and 55 years old, who are part of an organisation known as Pou Whakaaro.
Pou Whakaaro is a non profit, Charitable Trust that offers day services and programmes for adults with varying disabilities e.g. tactile, physical, intellectual and mental health. Our focus is to support service users into the community, education programmes, job training, night classes and ultimately into employment. We offer a permaculture course twice a week with 5 people attending on a regular basis.
We encourage the regeneration of our natural environments and as part of our permaculture programme we travel to Awaiti North Wetland Reserve, which is 20kms out of Whakatane. Our weedbusting efforts at Awaiti North wetlands have proved to be a great and very satisfying success. Through pulling many weeds using our hands, hand tools or push hoes, we have cleared a great area of weeds, allowing the regeneration of many small native shrubs and trees. We have raked huge amounts of weeds into piles to be mulched (with financial help from DOC), and put back on the land.
Since beginning this project, I have witnessed a group of people learning about the impact on the whole ecological wetlands by eradicating weeds to allow native trees and shrubs back to their natural habitat. Also how important it is to protect and sustain these depleting natural wetlands.
The group has realised that they are contributing to the community and the environment. Other great outcomes have been building pro-active relationships between the service users and Government Agencies, Taskforce Green, Iwi, DOC and communities. We are still seeking employment for the service users.
We encounter meny barriers each time we travel to Awaiti North Wetlands reserve - the travel itself, weather, lack of shade, varying degrees of disabilities and lack of resources. But we all love going to what has become our own piece of paradise, and that we can have a positive impact on the environment and be proud of our achievements.
Nominated by Mike Jones, Community Relations Ranger, Department of Conservation