A Ngahere Korowai for Cannons Creek - environmental equity and equality in action
Terese McLeod, Lead Ranger of Bicultural Engagement shares an update on the Ngahere Korowai project.
“A 2019 Christmas treat for the Wesley Community Action Men’s Group of Cannons Creek was a tour in Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne, which provided the inspiration to imagine a forest cloak for Cannons Creek.
Witnessing the group enjoy the beauty and benefits of the sanctuary had a significant impact on me as I guided the group. Their eyes were lit with the joy of enjoying the rongoā, or, medicine of nature. Kōrero turned to the men imagining some of the things they experienced in the sanctuary for their own community. I took those conversations to my manager who immediately supported the idea, and I was assigned a role to help support their aspirations, however, it is the Wesley staff and Cannons Creek community who are driving this kaupapa.
Cannons Creek is hearty but not without many significant challenges, accessing the hauora of nature can be restrictive for many in the community with limited resources and complex life challenges. This project is about tino rangatiratanga or self-determination and sovereignty over that. It is about empowering the community and creating environmental equity and equality, and the men’s group are leading that. They are the fathers, grandfathers, uncles, sons, brothers, their influence in the community is significant.
Photo: Members of the Wesley Community Action Men’s Group of Cannons Creek ready for the hīkoi. Credit: Shannon Doyle
Soon after the tour and excitement about starting this project we went into our first and successive COVID lockdowns, however, despite them we continued formulating ideas and plans, creating relationships, the type of work that isn’t seen nor provides photo opportunities but is essential.
Early in December, dozens of locals, partner organizations and friends visited a significant area set aside for planting. It was a more visible aspect of the project and more community engagement will follow with other areas of focus that include freshwater community education & engagement, a nursery and next year’s planting.”
“It’s been amazing to see the excitement and support from so many about this idea. Whānau in Porirua East are ready to lead this transformation of these hills, and we are so looking forward to 2022 when we start to grow the dream into reality." – Kena Duignan, Wesley Community Action.
Photo: Wet but inspired by the project to transform the hills around Cannons Creek into a ngahere/forest. Credit: Shannon Doyle