In a first for the West Coast, iwi and the regional council have teamed up with the Department of Conservation to make the most of funds on offer for nature-based jobs as part of the government's post-Covid-19 recovery.
The council signed off yesterday off an agreement to form the new partnership, Te Tai Poutini West Coast Alliance, with the goal of securing maximum benefit from the recovery cash for environmental projects.
Alliance members are Te Runanga o Ngati Waewae, Te Runanga o Makaawhio, West Coast Regional Council, the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Development West Coast.
The government announced as part of its 2020 budget a package of $1.1 billion for investment in employment that produced good results for the environment.
Regional council chief executive Mike Meehan said all up, a total of $1.3b would be available for environmental enhancement and predator-free projects.
"We know to be successful we need a unified approach across the region ... the Alliance members will work in partnership to make sure funding proposals are co-ordinated and integrated across the coast," Meehan said.
Nationally, the government was aiming to create 11,000 jobs - at pace and with a regional spread, and it wanted to see enduring benefits for waterways, biodiversity, climate change and cultural values, he said.
"We have applied for about $210 million, and we're hoping to hear in the next few weeks how much we'll get in total; so far we've only heard about the Karamea enhancement work - that's $1.5m and that'll generate four to five jobs over the period."
In South Westland, DOC manager Wayne Costello had already filled about 40 jobs through the fund, Meehan said.
The regional council would lead the establishment process of the Alliance and set the strategy but would not hold funds; it could have an independent chairman.
"Short term ... the projects will include the DOC-led Jobs for Nature programme, but long term the Alliance will be well-placed to leverage additional funding from a range of sources, including philanthropic and future government programmes."
Te Runanga o Ngati Waewae chairman Francois Tumahai said the Alliance would help avoid a "scattergun" approach to funding requests.
"We're trying to get a co-ordinated approach to what's going on. With the district councils, they tend to silo themselves; if this can help pull us all together it will be worthwhile."
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