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Summer Crew Keeping Forests and Bush Healthy

A summer crew of young people is helping to keep parts of Hawke’s Bay’s forests and bush areas clear of weeds.

From November to March, the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and Maungaharuru-Tangitū Trust Forest Internship employs university students and rangatahi from the hapū of Maungaharuru Tangitū (in accordance with HBRC’s mana enhancing agreement with the Trust).  There are 10 in the crew at present.

They work in regional council forests and regional parks, and on Maungaharuru-Tangitū Trust land at Tūtira.  From early November until March they are doing the tough, but rewarding task of removing pest plants - grubbing thistles, cutting back and spraying Blackberry and Old Man’s Beard.  They also clear tracks. 

This week the crew are working at the Tangoio Soil Conservation Area clearing Old Man’s Beard. 

“It is tough work on often steep or difficult terrain, but a good number of the crew return the following season as they like the physical outdoor work as part of a team,” says Ben Douglas, HBRC land services advisor who supervises the programme.

“It’s a handy job for university students, and as well as staying fit I can save enough money for the study year ahead,” said Harrison Woolley, who has been in the crew for 4 seasons.

The Maungaharuru-Tangitū rangatahi say they enjoy working in a team and gaining skills useful for their hapū land.

However the forestry crews are more than just ‘weed whackers’.  The internship is also known as the ‘Weedership Programme’ as leadership skills development has become an essential part of the programme.

“The leadership development came out of the fact that the crew is working in remote, difficult areas with hazardous gear so need to take responsibility for their own work. They are a capable team and do a great job of managing the leadership and safety responsibility side of their work too,” says HBRC’s Ben Douglas.

They start each season with an induction day learning to operate various information technology and communication systems used to map and document their work. They learn about the tools, sprays and other equipment handling.  The crews also delegate their own team leader - this season’s is university student, Bruce Morrell (age 22), from Maungaharuru-Tangitū.  

Daily tailgate meetings are held to plan their work, and at the beginning of each week they review and improve safety procedures.  Importantly, they also take personal responsibility for their own health and safety, right down to eating the right food and drinking enough water. 

 

31 January 2018

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