In keeping with a 5 year vision to regenerate a 10,000 strong podocarp forest, 200 local volunteers set about planting 2,000 kāhikatea, matai and tōtara trees at Tūhaitara Coastal Park in North Canterbury on Anzac Day.
The planting was organised by Te Kōhaka o Tūhaitara Trust, which manages the park, covering some 575 hectares along a 10.5 kilometre stretch of north Canterbury coastline from the Waimakariri river mouth to the settlement of Waikuku beach.
Members of the local runanga and community were joined by Minister Nicky Wagner and Project Crimson Trustee Ruud Kleinpaste who were more than keen to grab a shovel and get their hands dirty for a good cause. Trust General Manager Greg Bynes was heartened to see an even greater and more diverse turnout this year. “We had school children, families with babies, volunteers from the migrant association and University of Canterbury among our helpers. It was a truly bicultural and intergeneration effort and great to see people photographing themselves beside seedlings with plans to take the same shot in 5-10 years’ time.”
This was of special significance to Trees That Count as the first 2,000 trees ever funded by the conservation movement through public donation were put into the ground this time last year at Woodend Beach on the southern side of Tutaepatu Lagoon.
“We’ve had over 98% growing success in the natives that were planted last April which means we are flourishing” says Greg. Forest restoration undergraduate, Dr Ana Roderigas, has been working with the Trust for the past 18 months. Ana is currently undertaking a PHD at Canterbury and holds a Masters on studies in the Amazon Rainforest so her knowledge is contributing to the legitimacy of trialing techniques. The Trust is changing species planting to work in with the landscape and to provide monitoring data which can be replicated in similar envions. ”Last year we planted mainly kāhikatea near the lagoon but this year’s site, being 800m away, is primarily tōtara and a mix of support plants” comments Greg. “These Podocarps will be around for thousands of years and the forest is part of our 200 year plan to rehabilitate the lands to a working indigenous coastal ecosystem.” A further 3 sites and 6,000 natives are to be prepared and planted in the next 3 years.
Last year’s planting efforts coincided with New Zealand and 174 other countries signing the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in New York and was most likely the first tree planting and carbon sequestration in the world to take place after the pact. Now a year on, with United States withdrawing from the agreement, it may put an even greater onus on the rest of the world to play their part to reduce climate change and protect the earth.
“Our Founder Henare Rakiihia Tau, a great visionary, often said “People may change but values don’t”” recalls Greg. “Groups, communities and extended communities like are ours are committed to conservational based projects and to try, as best as we can, to tread gently on this earth and protect it for future generations.
Tūhaitara Coastal Park was established as an outcome of the Ngāi Tahu Settlement with the Crown, with the lands being gifted by Ngāi Tahu to the people of New Zealand. It is managed by Te Kōhaka o Tūhaitara Trust whose trustees are appointed by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and the Waimakariri District Council.
Public funding through Trees That Count is now going to De La Salle College in Auckland as part of their ‘Our Stream, Our Taonga’ regeneration project.