Read about how Warren has trained and worked in the forestry industry and his deep connection back to our lands in Motueka.
My whanau have maintained Ahi Ka Roa in Te Tau lhu o Te Waka a Maui since arriving into the region in the 1820’s on the heke from the North. Motueka has been our Papakainga for the past 8 generations. I was born there and have lived there most of my life. It is where my whenua is buried and the only place I know as home.
My great grandfather (Warena Stephens) was a Trustee on the original Whakarewa School Trust Board and would be very proud of what the Trust has achieved over the past 20 years.
My grandfather (Warren Stephens) boarded at Whakarewa Home during his early schooling years, my father (Ropata Stephens) was a Founding Trustee on the first Ngāti Rārua Atiawa lwi Trust Board, my aunty (Rima Piggott) ran the orchard for several years in early 2000 and other whanau members also worked on the farm at different times. So I am inherently attached to the whenua which our tupuna left as a legacy for the coming generations. I’m aware of the role my whanau play in maintaining Ahi Ka Roa and I am very proud to carry on that role.
At 6 months old my parents enrolled me into Te Kohanga Reo at Te Awhina Marae where my grandmother was one of the kaiako. My grandfather was always at the Marae working behind the scenes and my parents also worked there; so from an early age I had a good grounding in Marae life. My schooling started in the whanau class at Parklands Primary School in Motueka graduating to the whanau class at Nelson College and Motueka High School in my secondary years. Growing up in Motueka my whanau was always very active in the Māori world and I attended many Hui and activities with them at Marae across Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka a Maui.
I left school at the end of year 11 and started work in the Forest Industry after completing entry level Certificates in Forestry Level 1 and 2 at the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology. I continued to up skill my tickets within the industry achieving National Certificates in Forest Harvesting Level 3 and Tree Felling, Log Making and Log Loading Level 4. I have over 12 years of working experience in forestry under my belt. I love working in the ngahere; it’s a passion of mine and a part of me so I decided to turn my job into a career and upskill to become a forest manager.
I was 7 years old when the forestry block was planted up the back of the Trust farm. The trees will be reaching maturity in the next 5 years for harvesting. The 2 year tohu “Diploma in Forestry Management” Level 6 I am currently completing is only offered at the Waiariki National Centre of Excellence for the Forest Industry in Rotorua and will assist me to work as a Forestry Consultant specialising in Harvest Management. It is a blend of management skills for work in any aspect of commercial forestry in New Zealand, in areas as diverse as forest management, forestry or harvesting operations, contract management, log marketing, log product logistics, supply chain management, or commercial and financial analysis. The industry is on the move so I would be very pleased to be able to offer my services back to the Trust when the time comes to harvesting the forestry block. The Nelson province has the 3rd largest man made forest in the country so there is great opportunity within the rohe for my skills, knowledge and qualification to be put to use.
One of my long term goals is to establish my own Forest Management Company that looks after small farm woodlots like the Trust has to build my business and work my way up from there. The learnings from my tohu as well as my practical experience will assist me to meet this goal.
Another long term goal is to be fluent in Māori and to represent my Ngāti Rārua and Te Atiawa people on the paepae at Te Awhina Marae. I am proud of my younger brother Pohe who has achieved this and is an inspiration to me and our whanau. I am also a tauira in Te Ara Reo Māori at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in Rotorua and like my brother, will aspire to meet this goal.
Nā tō rourou, Na taku rourou, ka ora ai te iwi
With your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive!