Faculty of Arts braves the weather to plant on Motutapu

20 August 2008

Gale force winds and sheets of hail did not deter a contingent from the Faculty of Arts from a planting day on Motutapu Island on July 6.

The Motutapu Restoration Trust holds volunteer planting days on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Sunday of each month from May to August.

English lecturer Rose Lovell-Smith organised a group of Arts members and their families to attend as a small way of bringing staff together to recognise the importance of climate change.

Armed with sharp spades, sturdy footwear and thick raincoats, the team helped reinstate akeake, kawakawa, kohwai, manuka, flaxes and other coastal native plants to a section of the island. They were also taken on a guided walk through parts of the island where bush had been restored in previous years.

The threat of severe weather meant that the group was quite small, but a tally at the end of the day found that 1500 trees had been planted – about 50 for each person in the 30 strong group.

"The planting days are incredibly well-organised. They have a nursery with thousands of trees ready to be planted by volunteers. It is a major programme to restore the natural landscape of the island," Rose said.

The miserable conditions were in fact highly suited to planting – the rich wet soil in July is the best for transplanting young native trees.

"It's amazing to see how many plants a motivated group of keen people can get in the ground in a single day," says the University's Environmental Coordinator Dr Lesley Stone, who also attended the event.