Ground-breaking new initiative by Māori responding collectively to climate change

In a ground-breaking move, Te Arawa Fisheries is partnering with Sealord to progress a new initiative to improve our taiao, as a collective response to climate change.

Sealord is investing $10 million over the next ten years in a carbon offset programme that will see underutilised Te Arawa whenua around the wider Rotorua region developed into permanent forest.

The programme, developed by Te Arawa Fisheries and New Zealand Carbon Farming (NZCF), will offset carbon resulting from Sealord’s operations, maximise the potential of marginal land, create jobs and improve whānau outcomes, and help improve the local environment, including water quality in and around Te Arawa lakes.

Called Ara Rākau, Te Arawa Fisheries CEO Chris Karamea Insley says the initiative is a solid example of the opportunities the carbon economy offers for Māori, while highlighting the role Aotearoa New Zealand’s leading companies can take in supporting the country’s climate commitments.

“The ETS represents a $16 billion economic opportunity for Māori – one which will be transformative for generations as poor quality land can be used to generate better economic, cultural, social and environmental outcomes – not just for Māori, but for entire communities.

“This is a New Zealand-leading climate change partnership kaupapa, based on te ao Māori principles.

“In this case, Sealord will improve their carbon footprint, improved financial returns will be driven for hapu, new jobs will be created, and we can make a real difference when it comes to water quality in our lakes. It’s a genuine win-win-win,” says Mr Insley.

Sealord CEO Doug Paulin says the programme supports Sealord’s sustainability focus, helping the company to achieve its carbon reduction goals.

“Sealord is committed to sustainability and playing our role in helping to address climate change impacts on future generations. We’ve already reduced our total emissions by 23.7% since we started measuring our carbon footprint in 2019, through investment in new vessels, fuel optimisation, focussed maintenance and reducing fossil fuel use in our land-based operations.

“Now that we’ve made some significant changes, the challenge is hitting our science-based carbon emission targets as there are limited options for further big gains within our operations. This long-term plan helps us further mitigate climate change through off-setting as a final option.” 

He adds: “With fuel burned by our vessels representing over 90% of our scope 1 emissions, we can only reduce to a certain point with our current fleet.”  

“We are actively monitoring development of engine technology and new fuel sources, but this may be decades away from becoming viable in our fleet. While we wait for this, we have made the decision that we must invest now to enable Sealord to have options in the future so we can meet our carbon commitments.”

New Zealand Carbon Farming will undertake the physical planting and forestry management. Its director Matt Walsh says the partnership provides a new opportunity to work together on the critical issues of climate change and biodiversity loss.

“In particular, we’re extremely proud to be partnering with Te Arawa Fisheries in establishing a well-managed transition forest to provide measurable benefits for the environment and for future generations,” says Matt Walsh. “We also look forward to aligning with Mātauranga Māori knowledge to establish a best-practice approach for this project.”

“By using our extensive experience to establish an exotic nurse crop and transition to a biodiverse native environment, we will not only be providing carbon sequestration when we need it the most, but we will also be creating new opportunities for local investment and development.”

“This is a great example of how environmentally-focused businesses, Iwi and other landowners can work together to provide positive outcomes for local people and the planet.”

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