Planting 1,100 trees and shrubs sounds like a mammoth task. However, when the community puts in the spade work together it is amazing what can be achieved in a very short time.
On a chilly, but crisp and clear Saturday afternoon in July, between 50 – 60 people, including eight excited children, rocked up in their gumboots to participate in the annual community planting event at the Waiatarua Wetlands organised by the Waiatarua Reserve Protection Society. Several diligent V.I.P canine supervisors patrolled the area and kept a keen eye on the proceedings.
Waiatarua Reserve is a precious amenity in our neighbourhood comprising of large open green spaces, walking tracks and a unique wetlands area in its centre. The tracts of planting on its perimeter also offer a safe habitat for native forest bird species. Yolanda Thorp, Chair of the Society says…”The ongoing vision is not only that the park caters for people to walk, play, and use as a recreation area, but is also a true native forest in our city, providing urban children an opportunity to experience a piece of New Zealand bush…” With that in mind, Saturday’s planting was predominantly of a range of species that provide fruit and nectar for native birds.
The kids had a ball decked out in their gardening gear and getting little hands stuck into the soil. Much delight ensued when it was discovered that hole digging unearthed a good cache of fat healthy worms and a re-homing program was quickly established by our mini organizers. The joy of the youngsters being outside happily engrossed in the planting process was evident, with many taking the opportunity to impart inter-generational lessons about the value of nurturing our natural environment.
With many hands on deck from organizations including the Meadowbank St Johns Residents’ Association (MBSJRA), Conservation Volunteers, Young Professionals Group of Tonkin & Taylor and members of Waiatarua Reserve Protection Society, what initially looked like a daunting task was happily completed with all plants in the ground, mulched and staked in just over two hours.
The event was generously supported by Rotary Sunshine Club of Ellerslie and Auckland Council providing funding for the plants, supply of mulch, and the much appreciated afternoon tea prepared by Sarah Peters, Auckland Council Volunteer Coordination Officer for thirsty and hungry volunteers.
In attendance supporting the event were MBSJRA departing Chair Ruth Mackintosh and new Chairman Tim Duguid, Auckland Council candidate Desley Simpson, Mayoral aspirant Mark Thomas, and Orakei Local Board (OLB) candidates Toni Millar and Carmel Claridge.
Photo and Story Credit: Carmel Claridge.