A conservation project protecting kauri trees in a remote region of Hokianga has given struggling communities hope after Covid-19.
The remote settlements have high unemployment, and while people there are used to fending for themselves, new jobs in the area have brought some much-needed prosperity.
A Department of Conservation (DOC) and iwi partnership, funded by the Covid-19 recovery package, has seen 14 locals employed to make pest traps.
“It's kept me at home. I was about to move back to Auckland because there's hardly any work up here,” one worker told 1 NEWS.
Te Rarawa’s Mike Te Wake said the work is “not for the faint-hearted”.
“You either love the forest and the environment or you don't wake up in the morning - that's how passionate these guys are,” Te Wake said.
Some of the workers haven’t had jobs in years, while others have been laid off amid the pandemic.
After making the traps, the team lay them out through dense bush in steep terrain.
“The boys had three [traps] on their backs the other day and had to do three trips. That's pretty hearty,” Tallulah Ngahuia Martin-Naylor said.
“We’re probably about 600 metres up, we’re in the clouds, in the mist, you’re in the rain, you’re carrying 20 kilo packs," DOC’s Jamie Werner said.
The traps, designed to capture rats and stoats, must be checked every two weeks.
The workers are tasked with protecting 7000 hectares of premium kauri forest. They have already laid 150 traps, with 850 to go. It’s expected to take another 12 months to complete the job.