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Winter-warming spin-off from hazardous trees


 THE first day of summer was pouring with rain and the temperature anything but warm, so the delivery of a free load of firewood to Heni Hawkins could not have been more gratefully received.
The wood is part of the Tairawhiti Economic Support Package Redeployment Programme’s hazardous trees project.
Arborist crews across the district have been clearing dangerous trees from local roads and stockpiling all that would make good firewood.
Redeployed workers have then cut the wood into manageable pieces for distribution to those who need it most by not-for-profit groups and organisations.
Heni was born in Waipiro Bay but for the past 20 years has lived and worked in the Bay of Plenty, most recently as a lab technician.
After losing her youngest son, Clifford, she moved to Gisborne late in 2019 to raise his youngest children — five and seven years old.
“This job of children is not a part-time one,” she said.
As a mother of 10, she knew exactly what she was getting into.
The wood would be put to good use in the colder months.
“Think of the good it does for my grandchildren,” said Heni, a grandmother to eight and great-grandmother to five. “I can’t ask for more than that.”
She has long been one to step up to help others when they needed it and never shied away from hard work.
Her mantra is one shared by many who
have helped to make the firewood initiative a success. It has been a team effort, with trucking and contracting companies freely giving their time and equipment to move the wood to depots for distribution.
The project is one of five that are part of the $23.755m Tairawhiti redeployment programme and will result in the elimination of up to 2000 hazardous trees on 93 roads across the district, creating a safer environment for all.
The project cost $5.3m and has redeployed 75 workers.
The wood would normally be put through a chipper but Gisborne District Council thought it would be a great way to keep the community warm next winter.
The wood, a mixture of pine, willow and popular, is wet and green and not suitable for burning yet. It has been distributed from bases across the region over the past few months.
The redeployment programme was set up in response to the impact of Covid-19, with the aim of providing work and training for 220 people.
It has exceeded that number, supporting 236 people into employment.
The programme is funded through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, administered by the Provincial Development Unit and managed by Gisborne District Council.
Everyone on the programme has come through the Ministry of Social Development, with the goal of ensuring all not only find
work but pick up new skills, qualifications
and the opportunity of meaningful, long-term employment.