The inaugural Aotea Ecology Festival was a success in bringing together locals passionate about ecology, with support from the Aotea / Great Barrier Local Board.
Annual funding from the board of $30,000 for the Aotea Ecology Vision Facilitator role contributed to delivery of a well-executed festival. It was the first year of this festival, having replaced the annual Pestival event to include the wide range of ecological work going on that isn’t pest related.
“The local board is proud to support an opportunity for all our hard-working environmental groups to get together and share their amazing mahi with their community. It was an aspiring event to say the least,” says local board chair, Izzy Fordham.
The event involved stalls and displays from the island’s environmental groups, schools, and government agencies, as well as presentations from guest speakers.
"Our aim for Ecology Festival 2023 was to create an inclusive and positive space for the Aotea community to come together in celebration of people, place, land, sea and sky,” says Ecology Vision facilitator and event organiser, Lydia Green.
“We were thrilled with the turnout and response from the community and feel confident that our aim has been achieved."
Lydia gave a presentation about her work with Manta Watch NZ, including an update about national manta ray sightings and her photo identification project.
Another of the presenters was Glenn Edney, a researcher at the University of Auckland, who is involved in the Ahu Moana pilot project on Aotea. He explains the purpose of the project is for local mana whenua and community groups to work together and look at environmental monitoring and management from different perspectives.
“There’s the te ao Māori perspective that the moana is our ancestor, and we have a responsibility to look after it. There’s also the modern scientific approach which tends more towards measurement. We’ll measure things so that we can take the most we can possibly take,” says Glenn.
“Then there’s small communities where everybody has a relationship with the place.
“If we can get to a point where we honour all those relationships, and they all play a part in the decision-making about our activities in our relationship with the moana then we have moved into a completely different realm. That’s what the Ahu Moana project means to me.”
The other presentations on the day were from Cam Speedy on the drivers of predator management in Aotearoa, Sam the Trap Man sharing his knowledge about the different uses of plants in our ngāhere (forest), and Hiku Davis on treading lightly and working with a sense of the past within his role for Tū Mai Taonga as wahi tapu advisor.
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