The Ngāi Tahu Fund has $5,000 available to each of the 18 Papatipu Rūnanga through its Mahinga Kai Enhancement Fund for creating planned activities around mahinga kai projects. Senior Funds Advisor Helen Thoms says that having clarity around Papatipu Rūnanga planned activities for mahinga kai can help the fund plan for future funding needs. The development of a collaborative plan could also tell their story to external funders that may be interested in supporting.

“There is a lot of external funding available for mahinga kai projects but the funders often don’t know how to make contact with Papatipu Rūnanga. These plans will give them a point of reference and will assist in bringing the two groups together,” she says.

“Priority planning will also give rūnanga some control over what is happening in their own takiwā. It’s about people wanting to control the sovereignty of their food sources – knowing where those sources are and being able to gather kai for their whānau. That’s an ingrained tradition and it’s one the fund actively supports.”

Mahinga kai was, and still is, the currency of the
Ngāi Tahu people and food production is at the heart of Ngāi Tahu culture and identity. It is the cornerstone of Ngāi Tahu spiritual, social, and economic well-being. It is a symbol of the tribe’s continuing relationship with the traditions and history of place and it ties Ngāi Tahu together as an indigenous people. “We always look to fund projects that are representative of tribally significant mahinga kai places or species, and the degree to which the project will provide protection of customary use and rights – and the opportunity to exercise those rights,” says Helen.

The Mahinga Kai Enhancement Fund has supported five projects in the latest round of funding – the Opihi/Arowhenua Mātaitai Project, the Rakiura Tītī Island Committee, Te Nohoaka o Tukiauau (Sinclair Wetlands), Tūhaitara Coastal Park-Tūtaepatu Lagoon and the Moeraki Pāua Survey.

The Arowhenua Mātaitai project will focus on freshwater quality and monitoring of tuna; and the Rakiura Tītī Islands Committee will use funds to continue work on a number of fronts including enforcing bylaws on the islands, rubbish collection, pest eradication and species regeneration and relocation.

Sinclair Wetlands/Te Nohoaka a Tukiauau has received multi-year funding for the ongoing restoration and enhancement of the wetlands; and Tuhaitara Trust has received funding until 2018 to continue their planting programme and the removal of introduced species. In the last eight years, the trust has planted 30,000 native plants around Tūtaepatu Lagoon and in excess of 100,000 plants in total. The trust is also investigating the establishment of additional inanga habitats at the lagoon.

Moeraki has been funded to begin a pāua survey in October, which will provide a baseline to understanding the health of the mātaitai compared to areas outside the reserve.

“This will help the rūnanga decide on future management of the pāua resource within the mātaitai. It’s a long-term project and they plan to carry out a further survey in three years’ time,” says Helen. The Ngāi Tahu Funds team are excited about the opportunity to support whānau to maintain the important relationships, knowledge and practices associated with mahinga kai for future generations.

Tūhaitaraa Coastal Park.

Tūhaitaraa Coastal Park.