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Road to Nature

28 June 2019
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Last month, the New Zealand transport agency alerted Tūhoe that Wairoa Distict Council made an application for the Provincial Growth Fund. The reason Tūhoe were alerted was because Wairoa District Council stated in their PGF application they wanted to seal SP38 that runs through Te Urewera, and that they had consulted with, and gained the support of Tūhoe to seal the road with bitumen.
 
However Tūhoe were not consulted nor do we agree with sealing Te Urewera roads with bitumen – a byproduct of petroleum. Petroleum does not naturally occur here, therefore contributes to rising greenhouse gas emissions to ship it here. Further, petroleum is running out around the world so as kaitiaki we looked closer to home for a solution to manage people for the benefit of the land.
 
In line with our age-old principle of sustainable co-existence between people and the land, Tūhoe, NZTA and WSP Opus have been experimenting at the cutting-edge of innovative sustainability. Since 2016 we have been trialling a road binder known as Tall Oil Pitch – a substance that is locally sourced from pine trees, a natural by-product of the wood pulping process, is non-hazardous and does not harm the environment, and so far it has been successful. 
 
 
The latest report shows the Road to Nature trials have required less maintenance than those parts of SH38 that haven’t been trialled. The results so far show the Tall Oil Pitch resin suppresses dust and has waterproofing qualities that reduces the occurrence of potholes and corrugations. When Tūhoe voiced opposition to the PGF fund that would see the use of bitumen on SP38, Labour MP Shane Jones abruptly cancelled the PGF funding announcement. Instead he made a media appearance, promoting the New Zealand public to espouse an attitude of entitlement.
 
“New Zealanders are entitled to enjoy the same quality State Highway, whether it’s in Waikaremoana, Tai Tokerau or Auckland…this type of hillbilly thinking is totally irrelevant to my political mission and I’m not indulging it one inch” he said.
 
But it seems his political mission has fallen on deaf ears.
 
All around the world people are waking up to the reality of climate change. Key terms like global warming, carbon footprint and renewable energy are more widely understood. Young people in particular have taken a strong stance on this issue, with many organising and attending climate change strikes and rallies, demanding governments pass Zero Carbon legislation, stop exploration of fossil fuels and regulate emissions from agriculture. 
 
As more people around the world embrace local nature-based solutions to a global problem, the ego that exploits begins to dissolve, the intuitive state is reawakened and there is a shift from ‘I’ to ‘We’, moving back into harmony with nature and each other. 
 
In line with Tūhoe belief and vision for te mana motuhake o Tūhoe, students from Te Kura o Huiarau have been responsible for some of the Road to Nature research. Some of the mahi they do includes monitoring the roads performance and checking for ruts, dust and potholes.
 
Maybe us hillbillies are so backwards, we’re forwards - and we’re just getting started. 
 
Huiarau and Opus Monitoring Road to Nature

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