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JOBS FOR NATURE – MAKING A DIFFERENCE TO MANA WHENUA

Sandra Groves recently stopped by the Tairawhiti Environment Centre to catch up with the Centre Manager Rena Kohere to learn about Te Rea, the Tairāwhiti Agroecology Recovery Programme, funded through The Ministry for the Environment and Department of Conservation’s Jobs for Nature.

The idea behind Jobs for Nature is to help revitalise communities through nature-based employment and stimulate the economy post-COVID-19 on both private and public conservation land. Here in the Tairāwhiti local kaimahi are restoring their whenua, waterways and protecting native species through Te Rea. 

The programme is a collaborative venture of whānau, hapu and iwi, the Department of Conservation, Ministry for the Environment and Tairāwhiti Environment Centre and is supported by a range of government agencies, working towards catchment restoration.

Te Rea came about after an eight-week pilot funded by the COVID-19 redeployment Provincial Development Fund, with two whanau groups working in Mangatu and Ruatorea. Since October Te Rea has grown to 8 whānau/hapu teams and 62 kaimahi (workers).

Talking to Rena, the focus is on supporting whānau to undertake kaitiakitanga on their whenua and encouraging an ongoing commitment to Taiao, the environment, in our rohe. 

Many of the kaimahi are already used to working on the land, having come from other fields like forestry or farming. With the support of various specialists, kaimahi are gaining new practical skills and qualifications and increasing their knowledge of other environmental areas through a mix of both theory and hands-on experience. 

While The Environment Centre is the hub for business development support for Te Rea, ensuring funding best practice and safety, whānau set their own work plan and focus, depending on whānau and hapu aspirations for their whenua. 

The team in Ruatorea for example have a strong background in fencing, and have added pest monitoring and control to their skillset. Te Wairoa at Te Araroa started by maintaining the Project Crimson plantings at Matahi Marae and protecting a pingao population that was at risk from stock and invasive weeds. The Uawa team came with the skills and passion for water monitoring and their taonga species, the tuna, and have shared these skills with the other teams through wananga.  

Kaimahi benefit from regular wananga with each other and local experts as well as formal training and qualifications through EIT. Skill sharing is crucial and the teams have learnt from Dr Wayne Ngata about matauranga Māori and Taiao, Tina Ngata on freshwater monitoring and have had Graeme Atkins, Joe Waikari and Trudi Ngawhare from the Department of Conservation sharing knowledge about their work in the region.

Ripeka Irwin, Team Lead for the Te Wairoa Team in Te Araroa, is a big advocate for Jobs For Nature. She says that joining the programme was a far cry from working as a subcontractor for the Council doing amenity maintenance. 

She has enjoyed the variety of work and focusing on ‘what needs help’, whether it is the land, river or sea. Her introduction to Taiao mahi, or environmental work, was at Matahi Marae on the East Cape, maintaining Project Crimson plantings, shelter windbreaks of native trees, pest control and monitoring. Right now, she is at the Peka Block Awatere building a native nursery and vegetable garden which will bring an abundance of food for the community and security of supply of native species for further restoration work. 

Ripeka says it was while in lockdown last year that she realised the value of these kinds of resources and since doing this mahi her biggest learning has been to slow down, to care about the environment and appreciate what is around her. Ripeka is hoping the Jobs For Nature funding will continue, as her dream is to carry on doing this mahi and involve even more people in the community. 

Te Rea reflects the region’s demographics, with many young people getting the opportunity to work for the environment and gain skills and knowledge at the same time. 95% of the 62 kaimahi are Māori, 37 were previously unemployed, and 17 are under the age of 25. 35 of the kaimahi are completely new to this kind of work but have quickly become some of the strongest advocates for the protection and restoration of our environment. 

Rena says this is one of the reasons Te Rea pushed to get funding throughout the coast. This work is important in a region such as ours, which is so dependent on primary industry and therefore our environment. In order to grow as a region and achieve our environmental restoration goals we also need to invest in growing our people as well. Te Rea has the potential to be transformational for mana whenua as well as our Taiao and we’re looking forward to seeing the impact this incredible initiative will have well into the future. 

The 8 teams are: 

Te Wairoa at Te Araroa

 Ruatorea with Hikurangi Enterprises

Taniwha Connections at Uawa

Whaia Titirangi at Titirangi Maunga with Ngati Oneone

Te Ao Tipu at Tarere Marae, Makauri

Maungarongo at Matawhero with Nga Uri o Te Kooti

Mangatu with Nga Ariki Kaiputahi 

Te Mahia with Rongomaiwahine Iwi Trust

Story by Sandra Groves

Images Supplied by Te Rea

The Weekly Roundabout #82

Kia ora e te Whānau,

Well we’re pretty excited to be launching our first ever podcast today called Audio Potluck.

A big part of our kaupapa at Gizzy Local is supporting the Arts and the creative endeavours of our community. This is because we know so well how good creative energy is for us, whether it’s watching a piece of theatre or looking at a painting that ‘speaks to you’, dancing to some live music, or drawing or writing or singing your own heart out. It can be therapeutic, cathartic, can connect us to ourselves, ideas, and to others.

We’ve been pondering how we might better support our local music scene for a while now and recently I started talking with local musicians about a podcast dedicated to the music of te Tairāwhiti. It seemed there was indeed an appetite for a space in which to bring to light what is surely an incredibly diverse and colourful catalogue of music that has whakapapa to this place. 

The concept for Audio Potluck has its own whakapapa to ‘Sound Crush’, a segment in which a different panel each week discussed their favourite songs of the moment on Radio NZ’s Music101, which aired throughout 2019 and 2020, and which I always appreciated as a source of new music inspiration. (You can find some of the episodes here).  

And so each week, one of our panelists will present a song with Gizzy whakapapa to the Audio Potluck table for the panel to sample and mull over, serving as a starting point for yarns about all things music here in the Tāirawhiti. We have recorded our first four episodes and I’m excited as!  All sorts of interesting titbits came out in that first session and I think the content will enrich any music-loving local’s life. I hope you like it!

Ngā mihi nui,
Sarah 

Dylan Haley – Far Out! Film Night

Who: Dylan Haley
What: Far Out Film Night
Where: Dome Cinema
When: Last Tuesday of the month, 6:30pm
Cost: $10 on the door, bookings essential 027 590 2117

Meet Dylan Haley, a guy with an infectious laugh and the organiser of the monthly Far Out Film Nights at the Dome Cinema.

Dylan grew up in Berkeley, California, a city well-known for its liberalism. An epicentre of the anti-Vietnam war and Free Speech movements of the 60’s in the US, Berkeley has kept that tradition of radical politics and challenging the status quo to this day. “It’s a pretty groovy place” says Dylan and he reckons that most people born there never leave. But Dylan did leave, initially to go to art school in New York and then to Los Angeles to “surround himself with artists”. 

It was while he was living in L.A. that Dylan met Sarah, a Kiwi lass who had ended up immersed in the music industry, starting out DJing in bars and moving into music licencing, with a role placing music in film and Television.

Whilst Dylan still sometimes feels as if being here in Gisborne is some kind of happy accident, the pair made a conscious decision to ditch the rat race and find a place to raise a family of their own. With Sarah’s family all living here, Gisborne was that perfect place and Dylan reckons that Gisborne and Berkeley share a similar vibe in some ways; a special kind of soul that you don’t just find anywhere.

Since moving to Gisborne five years ago Dylan says he’s been educated on all sorts of things from beekeeping to growing vegetables to fence building, and he’s enjoyed growing friendships built upon shared interests in music and art. However he’d been here for a while when he started to realise how much he was missing chewing the fat about film with other people who were as excited about it as he was.

For Dylan it was time living next to some excellent video stores, first in NY and then LA that really got him into watching movies. It was always something of a solitary endeavour until the company Dylan did graphic design for opened a film distribution wing; restoring old films, repackaging them and redistributing them. Dylan started doing the poster design for the films – something he continues doing to this day – and finding himself surrounded by film nerds, his appreciation for film and talking about it with others, was thoroughly entrenched.

In his early days of Gisborne living Dylan would wander over to the Ballance Street Village to grab some lunch from the bakery. He’d often stop by at Retro, to yarn with Ro Darrall. When Sally from the Dome Cinema also showed up at the shop on one of those occasions, Ro prompted Dylan to share his idea for a regular film night showing classic films with her. Sally was sold, and in true Gizzy-styles, Far Out Film Night was born.

So what is Far Out Film Night? Each month Dylan chooses a film from his own personal catalogue of favourites. He goes for films that have stood the test of time but that are also somehow a little fringe-y, left of centre, usually with some kind of anti-hero theme, and always with substance.

Getting the rights to screen any particular film is an exercise which can have Dylan communicating directly with the family of deceased filmmakers or the original film producers and it’s a part of the process he enjoys. 

On the night Dylan introduces the film, touching on anything from the social or political history which may have shaped the film, to the backgrounds of particular actors, fun facts about the director or the likes. He is passionate about the films he shows, as an intentional curation of some of the best films that have ever been made. He especially relishes seeing old films on the big screen, likening the experience to time machine travel into the past. 

For Dylan the Far Out Film Nights have achieved his own personal goal in finding people to talk film with, with some of the regulars soon becoming firm friends, and for Gisborne people, it’s an opportunity to enrich both our cultural and social lives; an opportunity to step out of our own lives for a couple of hours to experience someone else’s reality, in another time and place.

Far Out Film Night is on the last Tuesday of the month (that’s tonight!) at the Dome Bar and Cinema. The doors open for pizza and toasty hang outs from 5pm and the film starts at 6:30pm. Bookings are essential because these nights are pretty popular!

Tonight’s film is a documentary about the life of pianist and jazz great, Thelonious Sphere Monk. Featuring live performances by Monk and his band, and interviews with friends and family about the offbeat genius, Dylan reckons this is another banger of a film!

Bonus Hot Tips from Dylan: 

#1 If you are searching for something quality to watch on Netflix right now, look for the film Crip Camp. Not only does it prominently feature Dylan’s hometown, he reckons it will have you remembering what we are all here for. 

#2 If you’re wanting to break free of Netflix you might want to check out streaming platform mubi.com – comparable in price to other platforms, available in NZ and good for films in particular.

You can follow the Far Out Film Night on Instagram @far.out.film.night

The Weekly Roundabout #81

Kia ora e te Whānau,

This week’s featured piece of writing is a little different from our norm, and signals the arrival of a new section of content on Gizzy Local called Voices. In contrast to most of our content to date, which strives to tell the stories of others, Voices is a safe space in which people can share their own and in any form.

This first selection by Neherā Kopa gifts the reader a lens – that of a small black and white puppy by the name of Nugget – through which to reflect on the experience of moving; moving around…moving home.  This piece of writing simply entitled ‘An Introduction’ is both poignant and funny and has had me thinking about the things that we find to cling to, that become our salvation, when everything else around us is new, uncertain and unfamiliar.

I met a woman this past week at the Neighbourhood Pizzeria, who had moved here for work last year along with her family, including their teenaged daughter. She spoke of how the incredible music programme at Gisborne Girls High has become that point of connection for their daughter in her new community. She also told me she recieved The Weekly Roundabout, using it to connect with their new community and what goes on around here. 

How that first year or two of settling into a new place pans out, can have so much to do with who you meet or the opportunities you come across. It makes me happy to know that Gizzy Local can help foster those opportunities and hopefully help speed up that process for the people who come across it. 

So by all means, if you meet someone new to town, or just returned, don’t forget to ask them whether they’ve come across Gizzy Local yet.  Enjoy your weekend Gizzy Local whānau!

Ngā mihi nui,
Sarah 

The Weekly Roundabout #80

Kia ora e te Whānau,

Yesterday I had a meeting with Gizzy Local’s accountant, James Burn. I came away with a spring in my step and I might even go so far as to say, a small fire in my belly – which is not my usual post-accountancy meeting state, I hasten to add!

James first got in touch with us last year, wanting to discuss the possibility of sponsoring Gizzy Local. We had an initial meeting and established over the course of a cuppa that yes indeed, we were on the same page, sharing common aspirations for our community, and in particular a drive to each do our bit in helping our fellow local Gisborne businesses thrive.

And so James Burns Associates joined our Gizzy Local community and Gizzy Local began the process of actually becoming a business ourselves. James and Lucy have a knack for keeping the overwhelm at bay, as they’ve helped us set up systems to keep things manageable as we grow and tackle each new step as they emerge in our progression.

Yesterday’s meeting covered tax and payroll systems and a few things in between, and I furiously scribbled notes because that stuff really isn’t my jam and I’m liable to forget everything as soon as I walk out the door.

However no notes were needed when it came to the pep talk James gave me in amongst the formalities – and whether he intended it as such, I guess I may never know.. James reminded me of why they had offered to support Gizzy Local in the first place and why they continue to do so today, speaking passionately of his belief in what we are doing, talking about the gap we fill in our community, and reminding me of how far we have come. He offered some suggestions of what we might do next.

When I left our meeting, not only did I feel inspired by James’ beliefs in what we are doing, but I left with a deeper appreciation of the sponsorship/supporter relationship. It’s about creating win-win situations and helping each other to achieve our respective goals, and it’s about growing a community of likeminded people. But there’s also a big piece in there about inspiring each other to keep striving for the gold, and reminding each other of our belief in each other to achieve those things.

So today’s Roundabout is a shout out to our community of supporters – that’s you – with a special thanks to James for that exceptional pep talk! Thank you for all you do to nourish Gizzy Local, each in your own way ‘Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari kē he toa takitini’. 

Ngā mihi nui,
Sarah 

Linda Cywinski – Globe

One year ago, as our country moved through the Alert levels out of lockdown back to Level 1, we rediscovered the delights of having someone else prepare a meal for us. Had we ever before had such an appreciation for eating out? Of having someone else cook a meal for us and the little touches like a fern poured into the foam of your flat white or flower petals and a smattering of icing sugar across your plate?

Linda Cywinski

Around the same time, on the other side of the world, in Munich to be exact, a young woman by the name of Linda Cywinski had also been prompted by Covid to ponder a few of her favourite things. At the top of her list was a return to Aotearoa, her country of birth, alongside a long-held dream to own a restaurant.

In June 2020 Linda spotted a restaurant listed for sale on the net. A grand white weatherboarded old lady on the banks of the Waimata River in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa, Gisborne. Linda found herself falling in love and not long after, fourteen years after they had left, Linda returned to New Zealand with her parents and two brothers. But rather than returning to Palmerston North where she had grown up, they came to settle in Gisborne, a place none of them had ever so much as visited.

Linda admits it has been a bit of an adjustment from the fast paces of Munich, but she is grateful for the friendliness of people here, the abundance of beaches and the focus on lifestyle amongst Gisborne locals.

As for the object of Linda’s affections, the Marina Restaurant as we know it, is about to get quite the makeover… After six months of settling into her Gisborne groove and getting to know her guests, Linda is ready to make a fresh start.From July 1st the Marina Restaurant will become Globe representing a move toward a more relaxed and communal style of eating and as suggested by the name change, an International flavour. The menu will be designed around sharing plates from five continents, Europe, Oceania, Asia, Africa and the Americas, which will move with the seasons.

The International flavour will extend beyond the establishment’s interior towards the riverbank, where a large deck is being built to make the most of the location to house a German beer garden – finally, a place to relax with friends on the river! At the heart of the rebrand and change in direction is a desire to create a fun and relaxed environment for Gizzy’s after work crowd, with a focus on encouraging interaction between guests..long tables, tall beer handles and food made for sharing! (Although Linda assures us you can order for yourself if you prefer.)

Talking to Linda it seems this particular dream has been a long-time brewing. Growing up in New Zealand with German parents, she travelled a lot, returning to her parent’s homeland every year or two. Some of Linda’s strongest childhood memories are from these trips; staying at hotels, eating out at restaurants with family and friends, and playing at being the waitress for her fellow diners.

Linda learnt to cook at a young age and her course was truly set when she enrolled in one of the top schools for hospitality management in Europe. She did her internships at establishments with gruelling standards, where performance is measured by a stop watch as well as output. But Linda says she enjoyed the high pressure environment and reckons the crazy fast pace is the fun part of hospitality.

Gisborne patrons to the soon-to-be-opened Globe need not fear a stopwatch approach to service however. Linda is most looking forward to creating a space in which people want to linger longer, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the company of others. Ultimately this is what drives Linda’s passion for hospitality – she relishes hearing people having fun and connecting with one another and is excited about opening an establishment designed around this premise.

Marina Restaurant will close on June 5 for three weeks, reopening as The Globe on July 1 2021 with a three-day launch event, featuring live music and performers, the new menu with a couple of special cocktails and dishes to celebrate, and with a beer garden in tow. We can’t wait!

Story by Sarah Cleave
Photographs by Thomas Teutenberg

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