Havelock North man Mike Lusk leads Friends of Te Mata Park - a group of dedicated volunteers formed 10 years ago to focus on planting and weed control within the park. He is also involved in an range of volunteer work for the Department of Conservation (DoC) locally, and for the Cape Sanctuary.

How long have you been volunteering?

About 14 years for Te Mata Park including a monthly working bee with Friends of Te Mata Park. Planting natives is the most popular work we do but that's limited to a relatively brief period, and is even briefer this year. At other times we look after the plantings, remove a range of nasty weeds and maintain some of the tracks. I've helped DoC for about the same time, monitoring geckos and weta quarterly and looking after a group of rare plants called Dactylanthus.

There's always plenty of other interesting work coming up with DoC, too. I've been also monitoring weta and geckos at the Cape Sanctuary, and help with planting and weed control there from time to time.

Why do you give your time freely?

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I'm happy to volunteer for conservation work as I can help undo some of the dreadful damage that has been done to the environment. Quite apart from that, I've always loved "nature study" and as a volunteer I get to very interesting places and enjoy the company of both professionals and volunteers pursuing the same goals. And, of course, having had the privilege of living in a wonderful era in New Zealand I want to giving something back.

What's the biggest buzz you get from it?

On a macro level it gives me great satisfaction to see progress being made in the places I work, especially in Te Mata Park, but there is also the pleasure of finding some plant or animal which is new to me, or better still which adds a morsel of knowledge to the information being collected about our world.

- Mr Lusk said it would be good to have a few more Friends of Te Mata Park. They work on a Saturday morning, usually the second one of each month. Anyone interested could contact him on 877 8328.