Karl Thompson and his 10-month-old daughter Olive planting at Pam Aldersley’s site in Springfield

Planting day the biggest yet

by Kent Caddick

The largest planting day of the year for Te Ara Kakariki Greenway Canterbury Trust was held at an array of planting sites around the Malvern district of Selwyn recently.

The Te Ara Kakariki Greenway Canterbury Trust (TAK) is an incorporated charitable trust with the mission to undertake environmental restoration projects in Selwyn.

The latest planting day at sites around Hororata and Springfield was one of their most ambitious yet with the goal of planting 5,000 native trees with up to 150 volunteers — something the trust had never done before.

TAK coordinator, Letitia Lum, said one week before the planting day there were just 80 volunteers signed up.

“Phone calls, flyers at markets and social media brought the registrations over the line to 125 very willing and capable people who were ready to give a whole day to planting native trees for the Canterbury plains,” Ms Lum said.

A number of the planting sites had been planted by the landowners or volunteer in past years, so the ecologists were able to point out the growth of existing vegetation. The sites ranged from dryland to wetland.

“There were a couple of budding ecology students from Lincoln University, who were picked up at the early hours of the morning to assist ecologists with laying plants,” Ms Lum said.

“These experiences are as good as taking on internships, so fortunately for the trust, the students keep coming back each year to assist with one of the most important jobs of the day.

“The ecologists’ race to keep up with the crowd of planters from one site to the next. They need to have a deep knowledge of which species can handle various soil types, or lots of moisture by their roots, or windy areas, or more sun.

“The volunteers also get a feel for what species go where over the course of the day and could ask questions about the trees.”

The Canterbury plantout days even attract families with toddlers. Sue and Karl Thompson planted at Pam Aldersley’s site in Springfield. They drove from Christchurch with their 10-month-old daughter Olive to be among like-minded people and spend a day in nature. Sue said when their first daughter was born they stopped coming to volunteer plantouts and now with their second child, they were determined to keep coming and get her involved from an early age.

“Today I’ve really enjoyed seeing the plantings from the past few years alongside today’s new seedlings; it’s such a beautiful spot planting so close to the snowy mountains”.

Te Ara Kakariki seeks out willing landowners every year, as well as public lands for planting native greendots, which are stepping stones for birds across the plains.

The trust will be gathering applications again in October this year.