Future ‘environmental warriors’ join cadetship

The 10 lucky people who will become Bay Conservation Cadets. Photo: Ursula Keay.

The Bay Conservation Cadets is welcoming its first 10 cadets to its Tauira Mahi programme in Tauranga.

The programme was launched on Monday, with representatives from the Department of Conversation and the Bay Conservation Alliance, along with Environment Minister David Parker.

The new cadets are Nathan Wakley, Hayley Reder, Leviticus Pouwhare, Liberty Jones, Misty Peni, Monique Nee Nee, Reuben Aikman, Anna Wentsch, Gaia O'Hare, and Shane Gregory.

The cadetship will see the cadets working alongside Fish and Game, MPI, gathering data on birds and invertebrate, monitoring water, bush navigating, and visiting the Council’s Geographic Information Systems team.

Chief Executive of the Bay Conservation Alliance Michelle Elborn says there is currently a ‘gap’ in monitoring.

“There’s never been invertebrate monitoring before. It’s really important but not something that volunteers have time for.”

They will learn from 29 different environmental experts.

Chair of the Bay Conservation Alliance Julian Fitter says he doesn’t think anyone in New Zealand has tried anything like this before.

“Conservation is not rocket science - it’s a lot more complicated than that.”

He says the purpose of the programme was to involve the cadets deeply in conservation, while improving their understanding of the importance of biodiversity.

“How many kiwis can tell the difference between a pampas and a toe toe? Not many and it’s pretty easy.”

He says 80 per cent of our biodiversity is found only in New Zealand.

Michelle says it’s really exciting for the planning to finally become reality.

Bay Conservation Cadets received $3.5million in funding as part of the Jobs for Nature scheme announced in the 2020 budget.

Minister David Parker attended the launch. Photo: Ursula Keay.

“Jobs for Nature is a great idea but without the training the jobs become meaningless,” says Julian.

Michelle says the programme will train 150 cadets over five years.

Environment Minister David Parker says this is one of the first initiatives that was approved.

“We think this will ensure benefits for both the environment and the people doing the work.

“For us to give $3.5 million means that what we think they’re doing is significant.”

He says the government was concerned environmental volunteers were getting older and there was a lack of younger people coming through.

Hayley Reder, one of the 10 cadets, says the environment is important for the whole country.

“The exposure we’ll get to all the environmental industries will be insane.”

Nathan Wakley, who studied marine biology and volunteered for the Department of Conservation prior to joining the course, says the environment is only going to get more and more important.

He says it’s “really exciting” to be chosen as one of the cadets.

While Leviticus Pouwhare, who completed a Diploma in Environmental Management, says he’s “stoked” to join the programme.

He says he joined partly because he’s really interested in birds, as he used to always help them when they fell out of trees.

“It’s the perfect job for me.”

Jobs for nature is a $1.245 billion dollar scheme aimed at boosting employment while protecting the environment and cushioning the economy from COVID-19.

“We wanted to do it in a way that wasn’t just building roads. We wanted to also mitigate climate change,” says Parker.

“We want to grow a cohort of people across New Zealand that have environmental management skills; from pest control, freshwater restoration, environmental monitoring and planting, to conservation work and more.

“I hope this is just the start of a long, fulfilling career protecting our environment. This is vitally important work.”

He says to date the Jobs for Nature has created 800 jobs including 19 new projects that were announced last year.

Applications are now open for the intake starting in May. To find out more, click here.

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