Kani Rangi Park is named after Staff Sergeant Kani Rangitauira who served in WWII. The Rangitaiki River flows through the park and is a home to tuna and Murupara, the local taniwha.
Restoring a 10ha reserve to a native podocarp/hardwood forest is no easy feat. It's a massive collaborative effort. Te Roopu Manaaki, Whakatāne District Council, DOC, The Ngā Whenua Rāhui Fund, local schools, and many others are working together on this project.
Trees That Count funded the planting of 2500 trees in 2016, and through our partnership with Kiwibank we’re now able to bolster their efforts with a further 5,000 native trees over this year and next.
Maramena Vercoe is the General Manager of Te Rūnanga O Ngāti Manawa. She oversees the Kani Rangi Project and says they’re planting for the generations of Kiwis to come. “In just two years of planting, all our people have enjoyed being able to work together to restore their land.” As a result, a buzzing community of local volunteers –young and old – come out in droves on planting days.
Maramena explains how the project came to be. Kani Rangi park had degenerated due to the corporatisation of forestry in the early 80s. So much so that it was a very poor tribute to Staff Sergeant Kani Rangitauira. “There were lots of noxious weeds and illegal rubbish dumping. We wanted to provide leadership and guidance to the community – to have pride in our place.”
It costs close to $20,000 per ha to plant, so the reforestation of Kani Rangi is a long term project. “This isn’t just about planting native plants. We intend to create a place for everyone in the community to play and breath the fresh air.” The project started three years ago but with Trees That Count and Kiwibank’s help, things are getting done faster. “It’s not about the time it takes to restore the park that matters. The reward is seeing our community working together for common goal. It’s absolutely amazing that it we’ve got a New Zealand bank supporting New Zealand and its people. That’s totally wonderful.”