Whakatāne District Council Open Spaces staff have come together with a number of local students over the last two weeks to plant specimen native trees as part of the national Matariki Tu Rakau initiative supported by Tu Uru Rakau/Forestry NZ.

Whakatāne District Council Places and Open Spaces Planner, Jane Wright says the continuation of the community planting programme this year has been significant as it coincides with the increasingly recognised Matariki celebrations.

“This is a traditional time of rebirth, thanksgiving and remembrance and is often celebrated as the Māori New Year,” she says. “Our Open Spaces staff have said that the plantings involving children, their families, wānanga students of environmental studies, and their teachers in our shared public places have been a real highlight.”

Whakatāne District Council secured funding to plant another 18 significant specimen native trees and joined students from Whakatāne Intermediate, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Orini (in Coastlands), Te Kura o Te Teko, Te Kura Mana Maori o Matahī (in Waimana), St Joseph’s Catholic School in Matatā, and Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiarangi to plant in pubic reserves close to their location.

Tree species planted included coastal and northern kowhai, rimu, miro, kahikatea, kawaka, pohutukawa and kauri.

Ms Wright concludes by saying that these trees will create living memorials on our shared public places where whānau, communities, and our visitors can appreciate them for years to come.

Caption: Whakatāne Intermediate students plant natives at Awatapu Lagoon

Caption: Children from Te Kura Mana Maori o Matahī in Waimana help plant trees