Ngāi Tahu welcomes Māori agricultural training government funding

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Tā Mark Solomon today welcomes news the government has allocated funding toward growing a strong Māori agricultural workforce.

The funding will provide a significant boost to Whenua Kura, a collaborative partnership seeking to grow Māori leadership in the agricultural sector. Whenua Kura looks forward to finalising negotiations with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Tertiary Education Commission.

Aimed at supporting more local Māori into agriculture, Whenua Kura is an initiative driven by Ngāi Tahu Property, Lincoln University and Te Tapuae o Rehua.

Tā Mark Solomon says more resource, means more opportunities for Māori keen on practicing sustainable agriculture and applying mātauranga Māori (knowledge) to land use and management.

“Whenua Kura is about preparing a new generation of agricultural students who will farm in a way that is best practice and fosters a healthy environment for future generations to enjoy. The more resource that goes into this programme, the better.”

The first intake of Whenua Kura students is planned for June. The programme will blend cultural values with specialist agricultural leadership and skills training.

“Reconciling values around stewardship of the land with primary production is key to the teaching at Lincoln University. Food production is going to be a major driver globally and the potential impact on our natural resources will only increase. Being able to apply stewardship values to efficient and effective agriculture is essential. These values are inherent for Ngāi Tahu and are fundamental to Lincoln University’s position as New Zealand’s specialist land-based university,” says Lincoln University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Andrew West.

“This partnership is an expansion of the University’s relationship with Ngāi Tahu Property and represents growth for both the University and the agricultural sector in New Zealand, and the government’s support of the programme and of training and education within the agricultural sector is welcomed”.

Supporting Māori into leadership roles on iwi farms is one of the aspirations of the Mana Whenua Working Party. This group works closely with Ngāi Tahu Farming, providing advice on the cultural, environmental and social aspects of farming developments so Ngāi Tahu values can be meaningfully recognised and provided for through these projects.

The Mana Whenua Working Party is made up of members of Ngāi Tahu sub-tribes, Ngāi Tūāhuriri and Ngāti Kurī who hold mana whenua (authority) over the areas where these developments are taking place.

Developing pathways for Māori to enter the rural workforce and work on Ngāi Tahu farms was identified by the Working Party as one of the key ways to uphold cultural values.

Last year, Te Tapuae o Rehua, Ngāi Tahu Property and Lincoln University signed a memorandum of understanding which marked the beginning of creating pathways for Māori to enter the rural workforce.

If you or someone you know is interested in a career in agriculture please contact Deborah Barton [email protected] or 0800 KAI TAHU.

Māori in Canterbury currently studying or working in the rural sector are also encouraged to contact Deborah.

Another Ngāi Tahu led initiative announced to receive funding today is He Toki ki te Rika (Māori Trades Training). He Toki is an iwi-led collaborative partnership including Te Tapuae o Rehua, CPIT and Hawkins Construction and aims to support more Māori into leadership roles in the recovery of Canterbury.