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Pukaha, partners build body of work

Pukaha and Farman Turkington Forestry have teamed up to get Pukaha’s education director Kelly Body on the road. Left to right; Guy Farman, Kelly Body, Emily Court, John Turkington. PHOTO/GRACE PRIORPukaha National Wildlfe Centre North Island Brown Kiwi. PHOTO/TARA SWAN

Pukaha and Farman Turkington Forestry have teamed up to get Pukaha’s education director Kelly Body on the road. Now, they’re looking for more sponsors.

Body joined Pukaha in March this year as the wildlife centre continued to push into the education area. Now, Farman Turkington Forestry have funded a hybrid car as part of their sponsorship to give Body the ability to now travel to students in schools.

Body said Pukaha was the perfect place for her because it blended conservation of unique species in Aotearoa [New Zealand] with protecting and resorting the environment with communication.

“It’s about sharing knowledge and being able to connect with people through the forest we have here.

Pukaha National Wildlife Centre North Island Brown Kiwi. PHOTO/FILE

“As soon as you have that connection and people have been here and seen all of the critters, you start to foster action.”

She said part of the experience, especially with school children, was being able to explore nature in the spaces of their own school.

Body said the interest fostered in children could see them move into environment jobs in the future; “weather that’s forestry or tracking and trapping”.

Co-owner of Farman Turkington Forestry Guy Farman, said working with Pukaha was a great fit for them because they were already actively working with school children educating about forestry.

Co-owner of Farman Turkington Forestry John Turkington, said there was a unique biodiversity space at Pukaha that was a “natural fit” for their values.

“We want to encourage other companies to sponsor because there is an untapped potential here.”

Turkington said it was exciting moving forward with Pukaha, not only with the restoration of the facility, but for creating an awareness about the environment with children.

He said building a new education facility with accommodation meant greater access for pupils.

“Schools in our region, we’re talking Taranaki and south from there, will have the ability to come here and experience something they wouldn’t otherwise have.”

Pukaha general manager Emily Court said Puhaka was “very much a community project” that had been built on thousands of hours of volunteer time.

She said it could be a bit of a struggle to find sponsors; “my perception is that perhaps there is a bit of a belief in the market that this is a Department of Conservation [DOC] facility and it’s fully funded, which couldn’t be further from the truth.”

“We need the community, including the business community, to really get behind us to help us achieve what we really need to achieve.”

Court said the more businesses that wanted to get behind Pukaha, the better.

“Pukaha is at an absolute tipping point in terms of its history and the board has made some very bold decisions to invest heavily in education and education facilities.”

She said the decision was made on the back of the belief that the community would continue to get involved.

“There are a lot of businesses that are under stress, but there are also a lot who have done really well in the regions.

“We would really love it if they considered Pukaha to pay it forward a bit and start re-investing in the community.”

Court said in a short amount of time Pukaha had begun to take a leadership role in conservation education.

“Year-on-year, despite the covid-19 lockdowns, we’ve doubled the student numbers.”

Turkington said sponsorship with Pukaha was easy because the facility was already there.

“What we require is an ongoing financial commitment.”

Farman and Turkington said they had signed on to a three-year commitment with Pukaha, but weren’t going anywhere any time soon.

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