NZ Defence Force starts initiative to conserve offshore islands

The HMNZS Canterbury of Royal New Zealand Navy is currently sailing to the Sub-Antarctic for a similar role after just finishing tasks in the Kermadec Islands, 1000 km north of New Zealand, where it supported conservation as well as science work and helped mana whenua to strengthen their relations with the whenua (land) of their tipuna (ancestors).

Tuesday, the military sealift ship departed Auckland’s Devonport Naval Base for Bluff before sailing 465 kilometres south to Campbell Island and Auckland Islands.

After returning to Auckland, the crew of the Canterbury worked hard to prepare the ship for the trip south, according to Commander Bronwyn Heslop, the ship’s commanding officer.

Resupply, conservation, and maintenance operations were part of the 12-day operation to Rangithua/Raoul Island in the Kermadecs.

The New Zealand Conservation Dog Programme, the MetService, and other staff and equipment were transported between a ship and the coast by a Navy Seasprite helicopter from the RNZAF No. 6 Squadron. This included winching personnel down to inaccessible sites.

Ngti Kuri mana whenua, a Northland iwi, also participated by researching the island’s tracks and natural fauna.

According to Sheridan Waitai, Executive Director and Trustee, Ngti Kuri Trust Board, “it’s hugely significant to maintaining our connection to our island and ocean scapes and with our relationship with Navy, it’s been pleasant to reconnect and deliver us to Rangithua.”

The automatic weather station on the island was renovated, and the equipment at the meteorological station were maintained by MetService staff.

According to Commander Heslop, developing fundamental skills was another goal of the time spent at sea for the personnel involved in the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).

“We’ve been practising boat drills and aviation skills. She added that people had gained more knowledge about what it’s like to be a soldier, sailor, or pilot every day. “We’ve built NZDF capability while here on this operation.

The Canterbury crew is preparing for the problematic and chilly seas near Sub-Antarctic Islands.

The Sub-Antarctic Islands are the UNESCO World Heritage Site. For past many years, New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has been an essential ally of organizations tasked with safeguarding both sets of islands’ pest-free status, significant biodiversity and natural heritage.

Three Ki Tahu K Rnaka ki Murihiku representatives will be on board for the first time.
The Southern Ocean is referred to by the K’i Tahu as Te Moana Tpokopoko a T’whaki, or the ocean of T’whaki. They have a long-standing relationship with the Subantarctic Islands as kaitiaki, and Te Rau Aroha Marae in Bluff has carvings of the tales of their tipuna who visited the islands.

Rear Admiral David Proctor, Chief of the Navy, said, “this voyage gives an opportune chance to strengthen Crown-Iwi links through the Navy.”

Bob Bowen, a member of the Te Rnaka o Awarua whnau, claims that the impending trip will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Te Moana Tpokopoko a Twhaki, Moutere Ihupuku, and Maungahuka.

It’s remarkable to think back to the times of our tipuna when they navigated waka through violent storms to sail south to the Sub-Antarctic. I’m in awe of how they managed without the contemporary conveniences we take for granted today.

This trip allows us to help the Mahi safeguard our taka (taonga) species like the albatross, yellow-eyed penguin, southern right whale, and New Zealand sea lion, while preserving our ahi k, or ongoing relationship with these unique islands as mana whenua and mana moana.

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