We are lucky in the Western Bay to be surrounded by beautiful beaches, lush native bush, and outlying islands, filled with flora and fauna for us to discover and enjoy.
Many groups in the region work to ensure this natural environment is restored and conserved, preserving our taonga now and for generations to come.
During lockdown, all on the ground conservation work had to stop. While this created some tension for community conservation groups who were worried that they couldn't attend to regular tasks like checking and clearing traps, working together, they ensured they were prepared and knew what protocols to follow when the levels of lockdown changed.
Now a couple of months on, there is a lot of activity occurring catching up. Groups are also well prepared for the uncertainties going forward now the country is in Alert Level 2.
But one big worry during this time has been funding availability. With donations slowing down, and gaming trust funding on hold or severely limited, one thing helping some of the groups survive has been committed two-year funding by TECT.
Last year TECT approved a funding application to the collective sum of $300,000, across eight community conservation groups.
The funding application was the first of its kind to be received by TECT. Facilitated by Bay Conservation Alliance (BCA), it pulled together the various needs of seven of its member groups into one collective submission.
Bay Conservation Alliance works to reduce the administration load on its members, supporting them with tasks like financial management, communications and marketing, volunteer recruitment and management, fundraising, advocacy, and project management.
Bay Conservation Alliance CEO Michelle Elborn says they work to lighten the load on some of the administrative burden through shared support services.
"There is a lot of national research indicating that community-led conservation is struggling with issues like ageing volunteers, limited resources and increased red tape.
"We work with groups to increase their long-term sustainability and supporting larger landscape-scale environmental outcomes. Combining volunteers with some professional support means the volunteers can focus more on the fun stuff like being in the bush, planting trees or doing species monitoring.
"We know our member groups are so grateful for the funding during this unprecedented time. Whatever happens with other funders, they have the assurance they have another year of TECT funding which is very welcome."
From Little Blue Penguins, and endangered Hochstetter's frogs, to estuary walkways and hectares of forest, Bay Conservation Alliance's member groups support the well-being of nature everywhere in the region.
For Aongatete Forest Project, which manages 500 hectares of native forest in the Kaimai Mamaku Conservation Park between Tauranga and Katikati, Bay Conservation Alliance's support has improved their organisational sustainability.
"We've been very pleased with the support that BCA has provided in areas like accounting, funding and compliance and it has improved our organisational sustainability even more than we had anticipated," says James Denyer, Aongatete Forest Project Chairman.
"The two-year funding we received from TECT has shown its value in giving our organisation longer-term funding certainty – invaluable since Covid-19 has impacted many traditional funding sources. BCA's help with getting this funding has reduced our overheads, so we can concentrate on our operations in the forest."
Maketu Ongatoro Wetland Society is another member who count Bay Conservation Alliance as key to their future operations and success.
"Our main aim is the ecological monitoring and restoration of the four key coastal areas surrounding Maketu via a pest mammal control program, removal of invasive plant species and education. BCA's support is vital. It helps cut down the administration required and with two-year funding, allows us to plan better and focus on ecological restoration work rather than our survival," says Julian Fitter, Chair of Maketu Ongatoro Wetland Society.
"TECT funding has been a key ingredient for our success as at least half of the work is running the organisation, the hard part, pest control is the easy bit. So many thanks to both BCA and TECT – working together is what it's all about."
TECT is currently accepting applications for business as usual funding for community groups in the Western Bay. To learn more about applying for TECT funding, visit https://www.tect.org.nz/apply-for-funding/.