Arapata is a long-term protector of the environment and manager of the Whakapapa Unit for Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu. The Whakapapa Unit is responsible for protecting the mana and integrity of the enrolment process, the Whakapapa Files and Tribal Register, as well as engaging with whānau, hapū and iwi katoa.
While he has never labelled himself as a conservationist or environmentalist, Arapata has an empathy for his natural environment, having been raised by a whānau who were active in all Mahinga Kai practices. He was always aware of the need to protect the environment and those reliant on its good health.
It was during a hunting trip in the Taramakau that Arapata heard his first kiwi call.
“Ever since then I have sought to become more involved in the work being done to protect and enhance the kiwi population. I jumped at the opportunity to be the Ngāi Tahu representative on the Kiwi Recovery Group (KRG) in 2011/12.”
Arapata relishes the opportunity to share his kiwi knowledge and experience with others.
“There are two rewarding aspects to my role with the KRG – the first being able to share the ‘kiwi experience’ with young and old, seeing the joy that it brings to those engaging with one of our taonga species. The other is having the opportunity to meet and work alongside so many highly skilled and passionate people involved with kiwi work at all levels.”
For Arapata, the low side of working with kiwi is being told of un-natural, preventable kiwi deaths.
“We are missing opportunities to learn more from those deaths, by not reviewing practices and adhering to best practice. One of the causes of this is a reduction in funding available to support the many kiwi projects put before the KRG as well as the work done within DoC. We could do so much more with more funding.”
Thoughts for the future:
Arapata looks forward to his children and grandchildren being able to experience kiwi in the wild.
“I dream of a future where my children and grandchildren experience first-hand – in a natural state – the labours of today’s kiwi recovery efforts. For them to be able to sail past Rakiura on the way to the Titi Islands and hear the shrill calls of the kiwi or to glimpse Roroa foraging for food while taking the family tramping at night up the Hawdon or Nina Valleys.”