Seven groups across New Zealand are set to increase their conservation efforts, as winners of native trees from Trees That Count.
Trees That Count is gifting 300 native trees to each of the groups, who each represent one of the seven stars of Matariki, to help regenerate their local environment. “In June, we celebrated Matariki by running a competition for community groups, schools or non-profits to win native trees. We were overwhelmed by the number, and calibre, of entries we received and selecting our seven winners was an incredibly challenging process. It’s certainly highlighted that there’s a real need from grass roots conservation groups to be able to access more native trees to plant,” says Trees That Count Project Director, Tanya Hart.
“We’d love to extend this programme next year, so we’re now looking to find a sponsor who could help realise the dreams of the more than 1,000 deserving groups who applied for native trees. For now, we’re excited to help our winners achieve their vision for restoring their local patch,” adds Tanya.
Trees That Count is an ambitious new conservation movement which aims to unite and inspire New Zealanders to plant more native trees by providing a digital platform to bring everyone’s work together. For 2017, the organisation has set a goal of seeing 4.7 million trees planted, one tree for every New Zealander. Community groups, large planting organisations and households are adding to the count by registering planting projects or pledging, gifting and donating trees.
THE WINNING GROUPS ARE
Le Malelega a le To’elau Samoan Bilingual ECE, Auckland
This early childhood education centre borders the edge of a heavy industry area of Māngere East, South Auckland. In a recent collaboration with NIWA, the pre-schoolers did simple experiments to measure and see the air pollution in the centre’s outdoor area and the results were pretty bad. Planting native trees will be the first step in helping to improve their air quality and local environment, as well as expanding the children’s learning opportunities.
Kimi Ora Community School, Hawke’s Bay
A decile 1a school that borders the local marae and community gardens, Kimi Ora Schools is currently planning a seed to plate programme which will teach the pupils and whanau how to grow and cook food from seed to plate. As a school with a strong cultural identity, it will benefit from having native trees to beautify their newly built kura. These trees will be planted along a section of the school, currently bordered by housing with broken fences.
Te Kura o Torere, Bay of Plenty
This small, rural Maori immersion primary school lies 24km north east of Opotiki. The kura is a tribal-based school that affiliates with Ngai Tai. As part of their tribal strategic plan, the kura aims to both develop and maintain their taiao (natural environment). The school has been engaged with DOC in seed-banking pohutukawa in the community, in light of the myrtle rust outbreak. The whole community (iwi and local residents), will be engaged in the planting of 300 trees around their tribal region.
Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, Manawatu-Whanganui
A motto of the Sisters is to care for ‘our dear neighbour’. They are a group of elderly women who work together with neighbouring schools, and are supported by Department of Corrections Parties and other volunteer groups. Over the last ten years they have realised this extends to their local environment and the Sisters have purchased the ‘waste’ wetland paddocks neighbouring them and restored it into Punanga Ripo, a small wetland for the use of native species of eel, mussel, Kaura and many native birds. This year they will extend their native planting to the steep grassy hillside which will serve to sustain the land, store carbon, hold rain water and provide a home for wildlife.
Manawa Karioi Ecological Restoration Project, Wellington
Manawa Karioi is one of the oldest restoration projects in Wellington, on marae land in the southern suburb of Island Bay. Their goal is to create an island of biodiversity that connects them with the other neighbouring restoration projects – Tawatawa Reserve, Paekawakawa Reserve and friends of Owhiro Stream in Happy Valley. Their dedicated group of volunteers will help get the 300 trees into the ground, with the aim to bring back more bird-life into Island Bay.
Cobden Aromahana Sanctuary and Recreation Areas (CASRA), West Coast
CASRA was established in 2014 and has won many local and national awards for their efforts in supporting restoration of inanga (whitebait) into Cobden wetlands. More than 10,500 natives have been planted by volunteers since 2013 to encourage whitebait spawning along new channel edges. CASRA also planted a further 2800 native seedlings within the last year on the former dump site, and public toilets opened there in June 2017. Woody weed, and rat and stoat control programmes are also in place. Their 300 trees will be planted by an active group of volunteers, on the northern end of the Cobden Lagoon to beautify and restore the adjacent walkway.
Weston School, Otago
This North Otago primary school aims to promote conservation values and activities amongst their students. They are encouraging the return of native birds to their semi-rural area by planting natives. As evidence of their commitment to conservation, the school joined ‘Kiwis for Kiwi’ in 2017 and raised $670 for kiwi protection. They have also created a ‘Skink Friendly Garden’ and have injected huge effort to provide safe habitats for their local reptiles. Their aim to promote their students’ interest in sustainability will be helped with plans to join Dr Jane Goodall’s ‘Roots and Shoots’ programme, where the children will learn to care for the environment by their actions and take responsibility for making our planet a safer place for animals and people.