I was invited to say “Kia ora” and participate in meetings of Caritas Partners near Wellington in Aotearoa (New Zealand). The visit was hosted by Caritas New Zealand and brought together a host of partners that provided updates on their specific projects and the work that has been undertaken with Caritas.
The Aboriginal Carbon Fund (AbCF) has been in partnership with Caritas Australia for 6 years, initially supported by funding, the partnership now has developed into a strong working relationship where the First National Program is supporting the AbCF to develop a framework for identifying and measuring the Core-Benefits that result from Aboriginal communities undertaking carbon projects. These Core-Benefits may include outcomes that improve Aboriginal ranger skills, biodiversity outcomes, support for outstations in remote areas, benefits to community well-being for residents and/or supporting traditional ecological knowledge outcomes for younger generations.
During the trip, I had the opportunity to meet with Hikurangi Enterprises which is based in Rautoria north of Gisborne. They are undertaking social enterprise development projects that will assist local Maori land holders derive an income from their lands. These projects include planting Manuka trees for the production of Manuka honey which is found to have application in the medicinal field for a number of diseases and medical conditions. They are also investigating the distilling and marketing of essential oils from native trees. Importantly they are assisting land holders to investigate how they can earn money through encouraging the growth of native bush that can store carbon. There were some good discussions with Hikurangi Enterprises about the learning and developments in the Carbon industry by AbCF here in Australia.
During the weekend of the 19th and 20th of August I attended a Hui (Maori assembly or meeting) that was hosted in a Marea (traditional meeting ground) in Otaki some 50 minutes north of Wellington. This was to be where Caritas NZ would gather their partners to discuss the good works that have been achieved over the past year. After being greeted by a powerful yet spine tingling traditional welcome a ‘Powhiri’, there was a warm greeting and some interesting discussions from all the partners on the good works that have been undertaken in NZ and the pacific. The presentation ranged from elders and youth justice programs, educational Maori emersion language and culture classes. There was a presentation on inter-generational healing classes undertaken in Australia and of course I presented on the work AbCF have been undertaking with Caritas support.
The trip was an amazing experience meeting the great people from Hikurangi Enterprises, from the Motu Economic and Public Policy Research Trust and Caritas New Zealand. I feel I’m forever indebted to the people I met who were so generous in the sharing of their culture and knowledge which was done so in a warm and sharing manner. Lastly a big thank you to Caritas Australia, particularly Carl O’Sullivan and Lisa McMurray for their support and for organising our participation in the workshop and cultural exchange.