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Since early 2023, anyone travelling on State Highway 6 near Canvastown has seen the landscape transforming from invasive willows to mulch, native seedlings and plant guards. This Ngāti Kuia-led initiative to restore Ruapaka Wetland embodies Te Hoiere Project aspirations of targeted restoration, cultural participation and whānau employment for tangata whenua.


Ruapaka was a very early and significant Ngāti Kuia settlement, located on an important trail and waka route from Motuweka (Havelock) on Te Hoiere River. It was also a significant source of harakeke and celebrated eel fishery, as well as an area which contains urupa where Ngāti Kuia tūpuna are buried. The area is associated with Hemi Whiro of Te Hora, who was famous for his craft of building waka as well as his status as a prominent 19th century leader. In the 1860s, Hemi built Te Whitio, perhaps his most famous waka. He gave it to his relative Kereopa Ngarangi, who was rangatira of Ruapaka alongside his cousin Hama Hamuera. It was a symbol of the communities coming together and used to transport goods from Kaituna to waiting ships at Mahakipaoa. The remains of Te Whitio are now housed at Canterbury Museum.

More about the intergenerational significance of this site:

Whānau employment

Ngāti Kuia leads this project to restore this site of significance with its field crew, Ngā Toki Kai Ahuone. Members of Ngā Toki Kai Ahuone were trained through a Ngāti Kuia-NMIT partnership in horticulture. They are continuously upskilling to build capability on the team, from Growsafe certification to enable in-house weed control and site preparation to Vespex training for wasp control. The restoration of Ruapaka Wetland is also connected to another Ngāti Kuia-led initiative in the Project to establish a nearby native nursery with eco-sourced seeds from Ruapaka. These jobs are made possible through funding from Jobs for Nature.

More about whānau employment

Project partners

Ngāti Kuia leads this project to restore this site of significance with its field crew, Ngā Toki Kai Ahuone, and contractors. Te Hoiere Project partners include adjoining landowners, Te Rūnanga a Rangitāne o Wairau, Marlborough District Council, Department of Conservation, Ministry for the Environment, Ministry for Primary Industries, NZ Landcare Trust, Forest & Bird, Waka Kotahi and Fonterra, which made a generous donation to the Ruapaka restoration. Marlborough Roads is advising on stormwater management, whether herbicide sprays are used in the area, and traffic control measures.

In addition to the ongoing support of the many Project partners listed above, various experts and agencies have been consulted to help with undertaking this restoration, including specialist advice. These include Kūmanu Environmental, FuturEcology, Fish and Game New Zealand, The Cawthron Institute, and Moore & Associates.

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