About us | Ko wai matou

Our patron is Rob McGowan, Pa Ropata

In 2020, Rob was awarded the Queens Service Medal (QSM) for Services to Māori and Conservation. Rob’s foundation knowledge of rongoā comes from kaumātua on the Whanganui River, and he has a keen interest in helping Māori keep the mātauranga that belongs on their land alive.

On the 6th of March 2023, The University of Waikato awarded its prestigious University of Waikato Medal to Rob McGowan for his significant and sustained contribution to protecting Aotearoa’s Indigenous ecosystems. From left to right: wife Lyndel Crisp, Rob McGowan and Manaaki Kaimai Mamaku Trust’s CEO, Louise Saunders. 

Meet our Trustees | Nga Tarati

The Manaaki Kaimai Mamaku Trust is a co-governance organisation, with six Māori trustees and five community trustees who represent the Kaimai Mamaku stakeholders forum, the Māori caucus of the forum (Ngā Iwi Tōpū), and the community. Our organisation arose from more than a decade of stakeholder, iwi and community concern about the decline of the Kaimai Mamaku. That history, and the dedication and contribution of so many people, forms the basis of our work today. We acknowledge that history and contribution as providing the symbolic mauri stone from which we can launch the mission.

Norm Bruning
Co-Chair, Community Trustee (Bay of Plenty)

My work as a Bay of Plenty Regional Councillor has given me an insight to the extraordinary
work that volunteers do to enhance and restore the Kaimai Mamaku ngahere especially
through pest management/eradication.
I became acutely aware of the Kaimai Mamaku Forum under the leadership of Rob
McGowan and Norm Barker and the struggle to attract the resources and funding needed to
make a real difference.
When the Forum called for trustees, I was asked by the Waikato Bay of Plenty Regional
Councils and DOC to put my name forward.
My aim is to reconnect iwi/hapu and communities of the Bay of Plenty and Waikato to the
Kaimai Mamaku Forest, to recognise this taonga, and enable these communities to manage
the forest so the Mauri is restored and contributes to a sustainable life force from the
mountains to the sea.

Co-chair Mokoro Gillett
Mokoro Gillett
Co-Chair, Māori Trustee (Ngāti Haua)

I represent Ngaati Hauaa in the Kaimai Mamaku Trust as co-chair. The Kaimai range is special to my people of Ngaati Hauaa, as a place for food and material
resource, it has historical signifance and a place of refuge.

My future aspirations for the Kaimai Mamaku, is that the trees and plants be nurtured and
continue to flourish to create an environment that is natural and beneficial for all the manu and
insects that live within the Kaimai Mamaku.

Kate Graeme
Community Trustee (Bay of Plenty)

I grew up tramping and camping in the Kaimai Mamaku ngahere with my family. My parents are
ecologists and shared their love of the special plants, birds and insects with me – sometimes
too much, a botanical walk can be an excruciating slow walk when you are young! But the more you
find about nature within the Kaimai Mamaku ngahere the more you appreciate how unique and special it is.

The jagged peaks frame my view, as they do so many homes in the Tauranga Moana. They are a daily reminder that the range and its forest are the largest wilderness area close to thousands of people. It is a place for recreation, a link to nature for our well-being, the guardian of our watersheds, the source of clean air and our largest store of carbon, so vital as we struggle to control our changing climate.

My future aspirations for the Kaimai Mamaku is that we halt the ongoing degradation of the forest that is happening right now and enable it to flourish once again so that the kiwi I heard calling when
camping as a child can be heard again throughout the forest.

Waiting on Imagery
Mawera Karetai
Māori Trustee, Mata Waka (Independent)

As tangata Maori, we are all connected to the whenua, no matter where that land is. I feel
honoured to sit in the position of mataawaka representative for the Kaimai Mamaku, and I
take my role as kaitiaki very seriously. Manaaki whenua, manaaki tangata, haere

When I first moved to Te Ika a Maui, some 30 or so years ago, what I missed most about Te
Wai Pounamu was the Alps; I had grown up being able to see them for most of my life. Over
time I began to feel that same awe and gratitude for my proximity to the Kaimai Mamaku?

Our Board is made up of a diverse and skilled group of people who have the whole Kaimai Mamaku as our focus. To see the mauri of the ngahere restored will take the work of everyone, as a collective. My hope is to see the whole community and all the groups who care for the ngahere working together to see that happen, enabled by the Board.

Norm Barker
Community Trustee (Waikato), Audit and Risk Committee

I am a semi-retired dairy farmer that lives at the foothills of the Mamakus on the bank of the
pristine Waimakariri stream.

I have had a background with local Government serving on the South Waikato District
council and the Waikato Regional council. The time on the Waikato Regional council has
sparked an interest in being involved with local projects and I have been a trustee of the
Mokaihaha Kokako Trust since inception. It is the successes with the increase of Kōkako numbers which then sparked a greater interest in the wider Kaimai Mamaku.

For two years I was Co-chair of the Kaimai Mamaku steering group that advocated and worked hard to raise
the profile with central government of the dire issues of the Kaimai Mamaku. We all know
that we were successful in receiving $19.5 m for jobs for nature funding and I am now a trustee of the Manaaki Kaimai Mamaku Trust.
The last year despite Covid-19 it has been extraordinarily exciting to see the calibre of the applications from Iwi and the collaboration with DOC. It gives me great heart to imagine that one day Kōkako, Kākā and Kiwi are back thriving in the Kaimai/Mamaku along with all the other biodiversity of this significant and much-loved landscape.

Kevin Palmer
Community Trustee, Audit and Risk Committee

I am a Chartered Accountant and a Chartered Director. I have developed a deep understanding of finance and governance over a 30+ year career in senior finance roles for large corporates, most recently as Chief Financial Officer for Trustpower. I believe these skills will be of benefit to the Trust as it progresses its very important work.

We recently had Kaka return to our property after an absence of many years. This gives me heart that we can restore the ngahere after years of degradation. It is a great privilege to be part of a group that is making a real difference to one of New Zealand’s most important forest ranges. I look forward to tramping through the forest and hearing increasing amounts of bird call as our mahi makes an impact.

Te Poari Newton
Māori Trustee (Te Arawa)
Waiting on Imagery
Josie Anderson
Māori Trustee (Hauraki)

My tribe, Ngati Hako, has ancestral connections to the Kaimai Mamaku which has spanned generations and I have been born and raised under the gaze of the paemaunga. I have been
cleansed in its tributaries, walked the whenua with my grandmother and eaten kai from the streams and the Waihou river, the river that connects people.

The Kaimai Mamaku is a dominant landscape that has always been in my life. It reminds me of the duality that exists between the health of our people and the health of the whenua and importantly, it is significant to Ngāti Hako and other tribes.

My aspirations are that the Kaimai Mamaku is passed on to our mokopuna and future
generations in a far better state than it is today and, to do this, mana whenua connections are integral.

Shaun Hodson
Community Trustee (Waikato), Audit and Risk Committee

I tramp, hunt, play and do community education in in the Kaimai ngahere.

The Kaimai Mamaku is special to me because It’s a place of beauty, solace, and remoteness,
it offers peace and tranquillity and is my go-to place for rest and recuperation.
My future aspirations for the Kaimai Mamaku are to restore its mauri and making it the
next NZ National Park.

Peri Mason
Māori Trustee (Te Puāwaitanga o Ngati Hinerangi)

Values: Aroha, Manaakitanga, Matauranga, Ko au te whenua, ko te whenua ko au.

Recently appointed to the Governance Board Te Puāwaitanga o Ngati Hinerangi and as a representative on Ngā Iwi Tōpú ō Kaimai Mamaku, it is an honour and privilege to be part of a huge collective team striving towards similar goals. Preserving and restoring a ‘God Given’ landscape to a pristine environment is inspiring as Kaitiaki. 

My future aspirations for Te Whenua Kaimai Mamaku without doubt is an every-body responsibility. We are charged to ensure that succession planning; between pākeke and rangatahi are in hand as we transfer, transmit receive and digest matauranga kōrero of healthy growth in our taiao. That is, better understanding our relationship with the wider ecosystem, the celestial spheres, and the entire universe. Mauri Ora.

Waiting on Imagery
Māori Trustee (Tauranga Moana)

Meet our Team | Nga Kaimahi

Louise Saunders
Chief Executive Officer

Passionately committed to the wellbeing of the Kaimai Mamaku forests and catchments, Louise joined MKMT in 2021 after 25 years as a consulting ecologist. Her background in restoration ecology, project management, community engagement and collaboration are all essential for her new role as the founding CEO. She sees her MKMT role as an opportunity to make a significant difference to conservation and communities, bringing people together to restore the mauri of our unique and diverse landscape. She grew up under the Ranges, at Manawaru, on the Waihou River, and now watches sunsets over the same pae maunga that she grew up watching the sun rise over.

Meschka Seifritz
Engagement Facilitator
The Kaimai Mamaku pae maunga sustained the lives of my ancestors, and therefore without it, I don’t know if I’d be here!
I think the Kaimai Mamaku has a lot to teach us about the past, present and future. It’s also home to an abundance of native taonga (trees, birds, fish, insects etc.) all of which have been here longer than us. 
The Kaimai Mamaku will become an international story of success and inspire many for its environmental, cultural, social and economic benefits in Aōtearoa, New Zealand.
Danielle Guy
Restoration Projects Coordinator

I live in the Lower Kaimai area near the Ruahihi power station.  Our property backs onto the Wairoa river and we can walk down through a track in the ngahere to an awesome swimming hole, where we spend a lot of time in the summer!   

The Kaimai Mamaku towers above us from Karangahake in the North to Horohoro in the South, from Omanawa in the Bay of Plenty to Matamata in the Waikato. Everywhere you look, there she is!  
My aspirations are to hear the call of kiwi, kākā, and kōkako throughout the ngahere, and to know that our rivers are healthy and abundant with native wildlife.  

In the ngahere, it is dark or dappled, damp and mossy, loud with birdsong, buzzing and moving, protective like a korowai, riaka is balanced, layered and diverse, a mushroomy sweet smell, spongy underfoot, soil is damp and alive. In the awa, wai is sparkling and clear or lightly coloured, tastes of minerals, cold to touch, quiet pools and rushing riffles, fish darting, insects crawling on submerged stones and flying above, shaded with mossy ferny banks. It is seeing, hearing and feeling the energy and vibrancy of the place, knowing that te Taiao is bursting with life. 

There are simple ways we could measure the return of mauri. An increase in taonga species (like kokako or kiwi breeding pairs, kākahi returning to streams), the volume and diversity of birdsong, the density of understory plants, and the cover of canopy trees. Monitoring and measurement are crucial to ensure our actions are contributing positively to the mission.  

We have a vision for the future and a mission to get there, so what exactly are we going to do? (Link this to the MKMT strategic plan).

Our values for this mission are:

Collaboration: Through co-governance and shared knowledge we can make a difference. We will uphold respectful, inclusive & equitable collaboration, acknowledging the parity of matauranga and science knowledge to achieve our shared vision – kotahitanga.

“Mā te kotahitanga e whai kaha ai tātou” - In unity we have strength.

Kaitiakitanga and collective action: Iwi, hapu, landowners, agencies, stakeholders, and the community… we all have a role as guardians of this special place. We will honour the passion, dedication, and commitment of everyone prepared to take action, and work to provide access to the most up to date and innovative knowledge and resources needed for the challenge.

“Ehara taku toa I te toa takatahi, engari he toa takitini” -Success is not the work of one, but the work of many.

Transparency is power: By sharing data, knowledge, monitoring and results, we can be curious and objective, open to changing what hasn’t worked and celebrating our most effective methods.  We will hold ourselves accountable for using the most effective and efficient site-appropriate methods, knowing that we need to constantly adapt, refine and innovate. We understand that one size does not fit all, so using shared information we can maximise the impact of every restoration action tailored to each place. 

Fairness and equity: Every action has an outcome. With sustainable funding, great execution and thorough engagement we can ensure that the outcomes of our projects are fair, equitable and sustainable. Our community will be engaged, project employees can build careers, iwi and hapu can reconnect with their whenua, and landowners become biodiversity advocates.

Partners & Supporters | Pou

There is a very important collaboration between the forum and three key partners: DOC, Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Waikato Regional Council. Called the Joint Agency Committee, these members are committed to supporting the vision and enabling the work of Manaaki Kaimai Mamaku and its communities.

The Department of Conservation is the statutory manager responsible for administration and management of the Kaimai Mamaku Conservation Park. Regional Councils also have responsibilities for biodiversity monitoring and management under the Resource Management and Biosecurity Acts.

Ngā Iwi Tōpū is a rōpū for iwi, hapū and marae, with mana whenua interests in the Kaimai Mamaku area and Māori with an interest in the kaupapa, to share ideas and opportunities. It is a partner with Manaaki Kaimai Mamaku Trust in the restoration and protection of the Kaimai Mamaku. 

Annual Reports

Download the 2022 Annual Report

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