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Ekos Partnership with Maori More than Just Trade

Ekos is a rainforest carbon boutique working in partnership with Maori landowners to build a low carbon future through rainforest protection and carbon offsetting. This work, though, is more than just a business for Ekos and the Maori landowners they work with.

Ekos Executive Director Dr Sean Weaver said working with Maori landowners for a sustainable future was hugely rewarding.

“Our Rarakau Rainforest Carbon Project is a partnership between Maori landowners and a diverse syndicate of mostly Pakeha carbon buyers who want to help drive sustainable land use on Maori land,” Weaver said.

Rather than just trading, Ekos sees this more as “gift exchange”.

“For us this is not about negotiating an outcome that satisfies the self interest of both parties. It is about using “trade” as a vehicle for the mutual exchange of kindness. These Maori landowners are providing a gift to the rest of us by protecting their forests in the common good. Pakeha carbon buyers are reciprocating and saying “kia ora” and “thank you” by purchasing these internationally certified rainforest carbon offsets for their flights, driving and carbon neutrality”, Dr Weaver said.

Ekos carbon offset buyer Kylie Matthews of Kai Carrier Ltd said she was delighted to discover Ekos and their ethical carbon offsets. “We could have bought our carbon offsets elsewhere. But we wanted to support this project because of the partnership underlying it, and the feel-good factor you get from being part of something special,” she said.

Harold Thomas, kau matua and Chairperson of the Rowallan Alton (Maori) Incorporation that owns Ekos’s pioneering Rarakau Rainforest Carbon Project in western Southland, said that before long it became clear that Ekos was not motivated by the money.

“The amount of unpaid work Sean did to get our project going made us wonder whether he had a screw loose. But we soon saw that he really wanted to help us save our coastal rainforest and support our community economic development,” Mr Thomas said.

“Its great to work together in this way and I guess this is what the Treaty of Waitangi is all about – a partnership where we are both better off because of working together,” Mr Thomas said.

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