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Volunteers protect Wairoa waterways

Environmental crusaders from Wairoa’s Ngahere Nursery have propagated thousands of native plants for riparian planting.

The voluntary group’s mission is to help repair decades of damage by planting the areas beside local waterways.

Eighteen-months into their journey the group is stronger than ever and is challenging locals who care for the environment to join the team.

The Wairoa Community Ngahere Nursery was formed in May last year evolving out of a community concern around the erosion and pollution of the Wairoa River.

The group is based on a Wairoa District Council owned site at 72 Lucknow Street and has now hit its first milestone having propagated 10,000 native trees with all plants and seeds sourced locally.

Chairperson Leeann Whatuira said it had been a whirlwind 18-months with fantastic community support.

“Through generous donations and a lot of hard work we built our first shade house which enabled more than 6000 plants to be propagated.”

That included a generous donation of 268 of the endangered Ngutukaka Ma plants (White Ngutukaka), from Scion research Institute in Rotorua.

“It was very special to be entrusted to care for these plants until they were ready to be gifted to various marae, groups, schools, kohanga and individuals throughout our district, allowing the whakapapa of this native treasure to be able to be carried on for generations to come.”

The first plants to leave the nursery were planted during Matariki week when 150 native trees were planted along the riverbank near the retaining wall by the Destination Playground, with kohanga reo tamariki and whānau participating in the planting.

This was followed by another 330 plants planted at the Soldier’s Memorial Park.

Wairoa District Council chief executive Steven May attended the Ngahere Nursery annual meeting and was really impressed with the work of the group.

“The progress this volunteer group has made is amazing and I feel very proud that Council is able to support this kaupapa.

“They are doing a fantastic job of propagating natives and protecting our waterways.”

Ms Whatuira said there is a real need to attract more volunteers, people who love the environment, or have time on their hands to help out.

“We have a small team of amazing volunteers who have made our nursery what it is today, but we need more people to help to really make a difference.

“In 18-months we have propagated about 10,000 native plants and with more seedlings needing to be potted out there is no shortage of work to be done.

“We have volunteer days on Tuesdays and Thursdays from around 10.30am to about 2.30 pm. We encourage anyone who is keen to come along during those times and if we get more volunteers, we may be able to open on other days.”

Helpers carry out various nursery duties, from pricking out, potting up, watering, pest control, fertilizing, propagation of seeds, to maintaining nursery grounds and general maintenance of nursery structures.

“Our volunteers are the backbone of our nursery, without them we would not be able to function.

“We are so grateful to the people who help us and for their willingness, dedication and for going that extra mile, so that we can make a difference to the restoration of our river and environment.”

Ms Whatuira also praised local marae for supporting the project.

“It is great to see marae taking the lead as kaitiaki for our waterways. Our goal is to see marae setting up satellite nurseries throughout the district, particularly those situated by waterways.”

Ms Whatuira said the nursery’s campaign is still at the early stages.

“We have many future goals including developing good relationships with our local farmers so that we can provide plants for any land that backs onto our waterways.

“We also want more households involved. If every household propagated 20 natives that would be 154,000 trees.

“What we are doing is a massive undertaking but through repairing, restoring, regenerating and respecting we are producing hauora- total wellbeing.”

Anyone who would like to help out should email Leeann at and check out the nursery Facebook page.

Lesley Wilson receives Certificate of Appreciation

After a successful 18-months the Ngahere Nursery needs more volunteers to help with their environmental crusade. Volunteer Lesley Wilson was recently presented with a Certificate of Appreciation for her commitment and dedication to the nursery. She is pictured with nursery chairperson Leeann Whatuira.

Ngahere Nursery

Ngahere Nursery volunteers are celebrating the propagation of 10,000 native trees grown for local riparian planting.

25 November 2019

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