A highlight of our year so far was our staff and trustee visit to Northland to see first-hand two Reconnecting Northland (RN) projects in action. What an amazing experience for all of us spending time in the stunning Waipoua and Warawara Forests and meeting the extraordinary tangata whenua.

We were so lucky to spend time with the inspiring people of Te Roroa and Te Rarawa who are working tirelessly within their communities to restore native forests in Northland to their former glory, ensuring the taonga (treasured species) and ecosystems are protected for future generations.

We were joined by on of RN’s other funding partners and TTF friends, Foundation North, as well as the folks from WWF-New Zealand and NZ Landcare Trust who are helping us deliver this ambitious programme.

Reconnecting Northland is the first large-scale ecological restoration programme in Aotearoa, focusing on the wellbeing of our people and land. Through collaboration, the programme links and supports projects and groups – combining their energy, resources and knowledge.

On day one of our trip we went to observe the Te Toa Whenua project based at the Waipoa Visitors centre. We had a fabulous welcome and lunch followed by a four-wheel drive tour of the forest. We saw first-hand how the wild ginger plants have taken over big parts of landscape, threatening to smother young native plants. We learnt about the group’s efforts to clear this invasive weed and saw the beautiful native planting they have done to restore the bush to its natural state. The group are irradiating wilding pine which were originally planted for logging, but which now threaten to overwhelm our native landscapes, killing native plants and evicting native animals.

We travelled in the afternoon to Omapere where we stayed the night, but we could not resist popping in to see the stunning Tāne Mahuta, the giant Kauri tree on the way. We stood in the cooling shade of the forest canopy and admired the majestic Tāne Mahuta. It is hard not to be star-struck by the breath-taking tree no matter how many times you visit.

We shared a great dinner that evening with the RN team where we heard about the strategic plans for the coming years.

It was an early start to day-two. After a drive, ferry ride and then a very bumpy journey we arrived in Pawarenga, on the west coast of Northland between Hokianga and Whangape Harbours.  There were dozens of four-wheel drives waiting to transport us to the Warawara platform (a bit of a hairy, but fun ride I have to say!).

We arrived at a clearing and were blown away by the beauty of the Warawara Forest, what a place for a hui! The people were very welcoming and showed us great hospitality and food! We listen with the passion they have for this very significant kauri forest and the work they are doing to eradicate pests such as stoats, rats, possums and cats who are destroying the forest. Because of these predators, many of the forest’s special plants and animals – including kiwi and titipounamu / rifleman – are under threat.

The communities of Warawara – including Panguru, Pawarenga and Mitimiti are working together to restore the health of the Warawara. Read more here.

It was a great trip and one that we will remember. Thanks to all those who hosted us so generously. We learned so much!

Highlights of the Reconnecting Northland Programme: