Preserving and enhancing biodiversity and conservation lands across Hauraki and Coromandel is a long-term project requiring vision, perseverance, and resilient funding.
The Predator Free Hauraki Coromandel Community Trust, established in 2017, supports the two districts’ 100+ conservation and backyard trapping groups, to expand, link and grow the conservation effort across this biodiversity hotspot.
It is a 286,000ha landscape scale project, stretching from the culturally significant Moehau maunga in the north of the Peninsula, to Te Aroha maunga in the south, with the aim of the rohe being predator free by 2030.
Image: Destination Hauraki Coromandel.
From the outset the Trust has had a holistic vision that such conservation work has hugely positive social, economic and cultural impacts, through both the immediate effects of the work being carried out and its downstream environmental benefits.
Trust Chief Executive Jude Hooson says they have a “very clear sense of what’s expected of us”.
“We’re here to bring additional conservation funding into the region, to increase the volunteer base, to provide resources and best practice advice on the ground, and to help with monitoring.”
Current projects include expanding the area under control for kiwi protection, supporting a local trap-building enterprise, and bringing national experts into the region for training workshops.
In August last year a field support team got to work, made up of a leader and cadets, who have been cutting tracks, setting out new traps and bait stations, carrying out monitoring, helping start up projects, training locals in both field and data work and, most recently, storm recovery.
Predator Free Hauraki Coromandel's Field Support Team - (L-R) Aaron Pulford- Team Leader, Renee Denby - Cadet, Jamie Seigmeier - Cadet, Hannah Power - Intern. Image: Dave FitzGerald.
“With the devastating impact on the Hauraki Coromandel of five major weather events in a row, we have a lot of people asking for help and at the moment it is as much about mental support as physical. It’s such a huge boost when a fresh team turns up to lend a hand,” says Jude.
“It is also about providing a regional perspective and voice on conservation, and amplifying what the local groups need to have heard by both stakeholders and the public.
The group also recognised from early on that, since such conservation efforts will be continuing for generations to come, a long-term vision around funding is required. Their Sustainable Finance Strategy aims to build a diverse and flexible range of income streams through to 2050.
Presently, the Predator Free Hauraki Coromandel Community Trust and its programmes are supported by grants from Trust Waikato, Save the Kiwi Trust and DOC, all funding that is very gratefully received.
This support is however contingent on current policies and budgets, it doesn’t cover everything they do, and it is difficult to find grant funding for some activities like region-wide monitoring, which is increasingly important in tracking impact.
“We are very serious in our intention to reduce our dependence on grants,” says Jude.
‘The Fund for Nature – Hauraki Coromandel’ has therefore been established with Momentum Waikato, as a key element of their sustainable financing plan.
“Our partnership with Momentum Waikato is about providing a way for people everywhere to leave a legacy that supports the conservation work of Hauraki and Coromandel communities,” says Jude.
“There are a lot of people who have been committed to conservation here for decades, and there are some leading conservation experts living locally, and they’re all concerned about who is going to continue to do the mahi.
“So, we’re not thinking small, we want to build a significant Fund for Nature.”
Image: Rachel Holmes.
Predator Free Hauraki Coromandel Community Trust Chair Peter Anderson, a former Chair of national supermarket firm Foodstuffs, says it is all about being “a good ancestor” and to “outlive your life”.
“Our board is diverse and high calibre, with a range of ages and professional backgrounds.
“We know that both locals who are here all year round and people with holiday homes in the Coromandel are keen to support local conservation efforts.
“What matters to everyone we talk to is tackling biodiversity loss, both for its own sake and because of its role in climate change, while seeing good governance, leadership and management in the response, all of which we provide.
“People can donate towards a particular local conservation group via this new Fund for Nature, or support the Trust’s overall regional effort. Donations are added to the Fund and then its investment income will go to both our efforts and those of the groups we support,” says Peter.
Momentum Waikato CEO Kelvyn Eglinton welcomes the setup of The Fund for Nature – Hauraki Coromandel as the latest environmental element in the community foundation’s portfolio.
“We’ve been supporting environmental work since we started, with the hugely successful Pūniu River Care near Te Awamutu being amongst the first groups we supported back in 2016.
“It is also pleasing to have another connection to Hauraki Coromandel, as we are here to help the entire Waikato region,” says Kelvyn.
Anyone who wishes to donate towards the new Fund for Nature – Hauraki Coromandel can visit momentumwaikato.nz/donate.