Regenerative Communities Supporters
Me te mihi nui mo a koutou manaakitanga. We are grateful to have support from Te Hapu o Ngati Wheke, Rapaki , St Martins Primary School, St Martins Scouts, Opawaho Heathcote River Network and Christchurch City Council Rangers. The Kumara Awards are hosted by Placemaking Aotearoa.
This project is funded by Lotteries Community Research and Christchurch City Council.
We won a Kumara Award 2022!
We were given a friendly surprise with award for the mahi we've done with our Regenerative Communities Pilot project in the Tiny Forest aka King George V Reserve.
The awards are given by Placemaking Aotearoa for projects that create a deeper connection between communities and their place. We took out the 'Tiakina te whenua, ka manaakitia te tangata. Caring for the land, caring for the people' award for Otautahi, Waimakariri, Selwyn region.
Huge thanks to Maui Stuart and Te Hapu Ngati Wheke for their strong support and involvement in the project. Thanks to Placemaking Aotearoa for the recognition and affirmation with these inspirational awards. Thanks also to Lotteries Research for funding support to get us to this point in our development. The journey of growing together whenua and people has only just begun.
Check out all the winners: Pacemaking Aotearoa Kumara Awards
What can we do Together?
Our aim is to create local regenerative communities committed to learning, engaging, sharing, support, and transformation. We are beginning with a Regenerative Communities Pilot exploring ecological action, reflecting together, workshops, sharing experience, skills and resources.
Let’s take a step forward and imagine and create together a better way of living for all life across the East Canterbury Waitaha Bioregion. For our children, our children’s children and all life that follows.
Regenerative Communities Pilot
You've probably heard of Regenerative Agriculture as a way for a sustainable future. Well we want to explore what a regenerative community would look like. This Pilot is to both learn and practice how to undertake regeneration with and by community. We are journalling the story as it happens and what we are learning. Our intention is to share this across Flourish initiatives as well as publicly, with the aim that other initiatives can pick up this exciting and transformative way of working
Launched in early 2021 our primary focus has been engaging local people from the St Martins/Opawa/Hillsborough communities in King George V Reserve. Located at the junction of these communities, it features a regenerating tiny forest and the Opawaho Heathcote River. In partnership with Te Hapu o Ngati Wheke the project seeks to honour Te Tiriti O Waitangi. The tiny forest was planted in 1990 to celebrate the sesquicentennial of the signing of Te Tiriti.
Why is it Important?
Our human relationship with our planet is broken. We owe it to future generations to heal this rupture. Approaches such as sustainability reduce the damage but do not steer us in a healing, transformative direction. We need to find a pathway that leads us all back to health, reducing climate breakdown and a fair society. Throughout human history indigenous societies have lived regeneratively and so we can draw on their wisdom in shaping our way forward.
The activities are not ends in themselves – but tools for learning regeneration, nurturing and growing flourishing regenerative communities.
It is about learning how to be community in THIS place. Digging deeper into the earth rhythms where we are and growing in understanding of and working with indigenous wisdom.
Key questions for all our mahi are:
The whole project is about living these questions. The community are holders of knowledge, and not just the experts. This is an inter-generational, multi-generational mahi. It is bigger than us and is about creating a life-giving, life-renewing legacy for future generations.
Year One Overview
“Regeneration is about healing the whole community of life, rather than merely conserving or restoring parts of it. It asks how humans can partner with nature to create fullness of health for nature and each other.” Therefore, our project is about building a relationship between the reserve and the local community, and community members with each other, and all of this with tangata whenua.
Just holding the odd volunteer day there, inviting volunteers through local news channels, would not have been a regenerative approach. It is fundamental to our approach that we enable lasting relationships to be built between the forest and the people who live near it.
The two main streams of our project so far have involved building a team of volunteers from the local community who will take responsibility for ongoing care of the forest; and involving the local school by having a group of students come to the forest on a regular basis to learn about various aspects of the forest and the river.
It has been about engaging with the people who live in THIS place, and helping create the conditions for greater connection with THIS land. The focus is not just on restoring and nurturing the forest, but looking at our own connections with nature. How does the forest sustain us, physically, emotionally and spiritually?
Every event in the forest starts and finishes with a karakia. Other aspects of Maori spirituality and tikanga are incorporated in our activities.
We create opportunities for people to reflect on the importance of nature to them, to what their emotional state is when they’re in the forest. When the first session with the school children took place we asked them to complete a questionnaire that asked them how they felt in nature (calm, relaxed, connected), and how they felt when the karakia was happening (relaxed, peaceful).
We look at how the forest sustains humans, for instance amongst the birthday party activities there was the opportunity to watch and learn how to weave flax.
The relationship of tangata whenua with this place is a huge part of our grounding and learning. We have been privileged to be able to build a strong relationship with Ngati Wheke for this project, and their involvement and guidance has been invaluable.
Because there are many things to be learned and shared from this project, we have been carrying it out as an action research project. We are documenting how the project was developed and the processes we are using, as a case study in regeneration.
We’ve faced lots of challenges in thinking about the best way forward in a way that stays true to our values, but this is what the research aspect of it is all about.
One of our challenges has been relationship-building, including with tangata whenua. Building relationships takes time, and projects often have time constraints imposed by te ao pakeha. Our dominant structures don’t cope well with indefinite timelines and non-specific outcomes.
Another has been having to adjust our way of working. Many of us get a feeling of accomplishment by starting and finishing a worthwhile task. Yet this project is about relationships and learning as much as it is the tasks of weeding, planting, watering, having project meetings, ticking the admin boxes, and so on. We are learning about the need to go with the flow, and allowing things to evolve naturally. A truly regenerative process.
Regenerative Communities Process
Through regular mahi sessions - including monthly Give Back Saturdays, summer watering and winter planting - a growing number of local people are enriching the tiny forest and deepening their relationship with it. A local volunteer Oversight Team now gives direction to this work. All activities have been and continue to be a rich source of learning about local biodiversity, how whenua and awa can be healed and nurtured, as well as the stories of this place.
Participants have also celebrated together seasons such as Matariki, run learning programmes for a local school and the Scouts, and will increasingly offer a range of workshops that teach participants regenerative skills and principles; including matauranga Maori.
Check our current info on the King George V Reserve Facebook Page.
What is Regeneration?
Regeneration is about healing the whole community of life, rather than merely conserving parts of it. It asks how humans can partner with nature to create fullness of health for nature and each other. This requires deep respect and love for, the ecology of our local place, and a willingness to both learn from, and change with it.
A regenerative community acts in ways that restores, renews and revitalizes all of life that makes up their place.