Invasive weeds were cleared and another 240 native trees planted on the rear dunes in Whanganui’s Castlecliff Coastal Reserve in the winter of 2016 with the support of Trees That Count. The planting started at the end of June with members of the Castlecliff Coast Care Group and students from Wanganui City College.
The reserve covers 25 hectares on the northern side of the Whanganui rivermouth and extends 3 kilometres up the coast. It was originally known as Kai Hau ō Kupe, the place where Kupe ate the wind, so named because he was unable to land there to gather food for several days due to rough conditions. The area forms the southernmost tip of the rohe of Ngā Rauru Kītahi. The reserve offers recreational opportunities for the local people, but the management plan also provides for ecological restoration.
The Coast Care group was set up in 2005 by a former editor of Wellington’s Dominion newspaper, Ted Frost, who retired to Castlecliff. Frost was the paper’s editor when Robert Muldoon was Prime Minister, and the Dominion, as columnist Karl Du Fresne wrote, “had the misfortune to be the first paper he saw each day, and therefore bore the brunt of his well known antagonism towards the news media.” In his retirement, Frost formed the Coast Care group with a “2020 vision” for the reserve, which a small group of volunteers has continued to implement since his death in 2010. In the 21 years since the group’s formation, and with 2020 now only four years away, they have planted several thousand trees on the rear dunes.
Current co-ordinator Graham Pearson, formerly of Massey University, says the group’s key focus now is on community involvement and environmental education. They organise community planting days, educational visits from local schools and kura, and take part in the annual Seaweek in the reserve. A group of IDEA services clients comes to the reserve every second Wednesday for planting or mulching