On a dry day in spring

During Conservation Week in October, Horahora School teachers, children and parents came back to the farm for a morning to lend a helping hand with our weir planting. Armed with spades and gumboots, they learned about why we created two large pools of water on the farm and how the digger created the new area.

Cabbage tree, kowhai, kahikatea and grasses were among the plants that were gingerly placed in the ground. The kids split up into smaller groups of two to three, and used tags to lay claim to the plants they planted. This will allow them to come back over the coming years and track the progress of their efforts on that dry day in spring 2017.

Enviroschools’ Alex oversaw the assembly of some more ink-tracking tunnels for potential predators in the new area. By capturing footprints, we can put the appropriate measures in place to stamp out any animal that is a threat to our native fauna.

Projects such as ours need community support, not only to be realised but also to thrive. Over the past years, the wetland projects on our farm have been an invaluable catalyst, helping us reconnect with the local school and marae. The students, in particular, are able to build on their planting skills, as well as their local ecological knowledge bank. Kids possess an instinctive curiosity, too, and field trips offer them a unique opportunity to question why we do things a certain way in farming.

The work done to plant the remaining riparian areas and gully slopes was checked off in early November by Native Awa and the family, with support from the Waikato River Authority. Tōtara and transplanted flax from another area of the farm made up the majority of the species to be resettled. August saw us extend Gully 3 to the north and south. The northern area already has the odd cabbage tree, kahikatea, and ribbonwood that Mum planted about a decade ago, as well as tea-tree that’s grown of its own volition.

Just like the other areas we’ve restored, the wetland will need ongoing releasing, observing and replanting over the coming few years, until the plants get well established. Gorse, thistle and wandering willie (Tradescantia) remain a problem, but regular family working bees and ‘wanderings through’ keep us on top of most of the non-native creepers and prickly predators.