SUSTAINABILITY. PASSION. VISION.
“He kura tangata, e kora e rokohanga; he kura whenua ka rokahanga.”
“Possessions are temporary things compared to the land.”
Situated in a remote corner of New Zealand’s North Island where the world’s tallest bird – the moa – once roamed freely in a land of myth and legend, our story is about more than just honey. This is a story of forests rejuvenated, wetlands reborn and native wildlife returned.
Ohuatahi – or first place of plenty – was the name given to this land by the Maori. Here, past, present and future are precious and we follow this philosophy in our business to ensure we show a deep respect for our natural surroundings.
Our aim is to preserve both the ecological and cultural heritage of the land, providing a sanctuary for people and wildlife. This means offering guardianship of the land rather than ownership, using the principles of sustainable management to guide our decisions.
We are a living example of positive transformation, rejuvenation and commitment to a sustainable business model that does not place profit ahead of the environment. We are breathing life back into the land – at the same time, running an ecologically conscious business and creating jobs.
The landscape of Tahi was once wild, rich and fertile, home to generations of Maori and alive with a vibrant indigenous culture. Originally Ohuatahi, the name given to this land by the Maori, this site was centred on an important pa– a Maori fortified village. The remains of the site – the living areas, cooking and waste pits of the Te Waiariki, the earliest inhabitants – can still be seen. Ohuatahi means ‘first place of plenty’ and the name Tahi was taken from this, meaning ‘first’ or ‘one’.
With a deep belief in the spiritual sanctity of the land and the inseparable connections between all things, Maori tribes wove legends around the land, forests and sea. These legends, handed down through the generations, tell stories of how the landscape came to be.
When European settlers arrived in the mid-1800s, they transformed the landscape, cutting the native forests for building material and fuel, introducing intensive farming and a host of pest species, including weasels and possums that decimated the native wildlife. Wetlands were drained, the birds disappeared and the land lost its soul.
As the Maori tribes once fiercely defended this land, so are we passionate about the reawakening of its spirit. We have a profound respect for the Maori belief in the spiritual sanctity of the land and the inseparable connections between all things.
We began our restoration project 15 years ago when our founder Suzan Craig, purchased Tahi in 2004. At that time Tahi was a working cattle farm and was in great need of regeneration. With the help of her father, Dr John Craig, a leading expert in landscape restoration, Suzan set about returning the land to nature. Now 14 wetlands have been restored and over 325,000 indigenous trees have been planted. Where we once saw fewer than 20 bird species, we now see 70, of which 23 are rare or endangered. Numerous native fish species are also returning.
Tahi is a founding member of The Long Run, an international initiative that develops innovative approaches to sustainable ecosystem management. Under the Long Run philosophy, members strive to achieve the highest standards in sustainability by balancing conservation, community, culture and commerce – the 4Cs.
The 4C philosophy guides everything we do at Tahi – from species conservation to renewable energy, recycling water to community outreach, creating jobs to preserving local culture.
As a result of these restoration efforts, there has been a large increase in the number of birds at Tahi. Some of the rarer species have returned, including the bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus), pateke or brown teal (Anas chlorotis), New Zealand’s rarest duck and the grey duck (Anas superciliosa), along with many other rare and more common species.
As well as providing important wildlife habitat, the wetlands help recharge groundwater and help us cope with periods of drought.
The coastal dunes were the site of the earliest human occupation where Maori hunted the coastal moa (a large flightless bird, similar to an emu or cassowary). Eggshell and gizzard stones are all that remain of this once plentiful but sadly extinct bird.
Tahi is home to the sand daphne (Pimelea villosa), a species in decline nationally. In conjunction with the New Zealand Dunes Trust and QEII Trust, Tahi is involved in an experimental restoration programme, which involves re-establishing native dune species along the coast of Tahi.
To learn more about all that we have done at Tahi to date, please click on the informative blocks below.