Conservation Week function inspires

Raven (left) with two members of the Wellington Conservation Board.

UNESCO Aotearoa Youth Leader Raven Maeder and Chair Robyn Baker attended the Conservation Week 2018 cocktail function at the Sustainability Trust in Wellington on 20 September. Raven reflects on the evening.

It was a great pleasure and privilege to be in the presence of so many people working to protect our national Tāonga at the Conservation Week 2018 cocktail function.

I was particularly moved by the keynote speaker, Professor Rawinia Higgins, who is the chairwoman of the Māori Language Commission. She spoke about the interconnectedness of our endemic nature and Te Reo Māori. She said that the conservation of one depends on the conservation of the other, because Te Reo Māori is the language of our unique environment. Together with the Department of Conservation, the Māori Language Commission created a booklet for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori 2018 called ‘Kia Kaha Te Reo Taio’. It’s a beautiful educational resource that covers the language of our environment, with key Māori phrases and pronunciation of words relating to our native species.

I was really inspired by this partnership (the first of its kind between two crown entities) because it shows that our conservation movement is recognising the holistic approach needed to protect our Tāonga (both the native species and the Reo of this land) for future generations, and the interconnectedness of people and the environment.

I really enjoyed catching up with some friends from the Wellington Conservation Board too and making new connections with people across organisations, such as Ākina. I am sure that these are connections we can continue to foster! I was also privileged to meet the gorgeous conservation dog, who I believe was called Kowhai – she gave me a lovely cuddle!

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the amazing mahi being done by people across organisations, particularly those working on the ground, for the conservation of our native flora and fauna. The theme of this year’s conservation week was ‘nature is calling’ and I hope that we can all do our bit to answer that call.