Elisabeth Easther finds where you can give Mother Earth a helping hand for World Environment Day
In Greytown, Wairarapa, on a July day in 1890, New Zealand celebrated its first Arbor Day tree planting, modelled on the international Arbor Day.
New Zealand adopted the idea of having a special day to plant trees and, in the 1970s, the day was moved to June 5 to line up with World Environment Day.
Years later, it still amounts to the same wonderful thing - whatever you call it, whatever the date you do it, planting trees is a capital idea, an investment in the future for all of us, and it's something anyone can do.
However, if your garden isn't big enough for a forest, there are plenty of ways to lend a hand on public land.
Think.Eat.Save. at Auckland Zoo
Auckland Zoo, Motions Rd. Normal admission prices apply.
10am-3pm till Wednesday June 5.
Auckland Zoo gets into the swing of World Environment Day this weekend. They'll also be teaching visitors how to live a greener life as part of World Environment Day's 2013 theme, Think.Eat.Save, encouraging us all to reduce our "foodprint" by becoming more aware of the environmental impact of food waste and loss all the way through the food supply chain.
Visitors get started with garden to table living by transforming plastic bottles into seedling pots, making a stylish edible wall of seeds and soil. You can help grow food for the zoo's animals with Project Munch - plant leafy and carrot seedlings for the giraffes and kunekune pigs, then join the feeding on Giraffe Encounter days (from June 1-5). Bring your own empty plastic bottle to take home a miniature vegetable garden.
Tree Planting Tawharanui
Tawharanui Regional Park.
From 9.15am today and tomorrow.
The Tawharanui Open Sanctuary Society is a fascinating blend of conservation, recreation and sustainable farming. This weekend enthusiastic diggers can help plant more than 10,000 trees. The park includes mature and regenerating native bush, gorgeous beaches, looming coastal cliffs, wetlands, heritage sites, a marine park and extensive areas of rich grazing land too.
TOSSI works with Auckland Council in volunteer programmes, fundraising, education and helping to fund a 2.5 km predator-proof fence that goes across the Tawharanui Peninsula.
Since the fence, built in 2004, has been keeping out rats, stoats and possums, birds such as kiwi, pateke, kakariki, bellbirds, robins, kaka and whiteheads have returned or been re-introduced.
Recently released saddlebacks have spawned a handful of fledglings, so keep your eyes peeled if you head there this weekend to wield a shovel.
For planting in regional parks, almost all the plants are eco-sourced, which means the seeds are collected from the parks and propagated in nurseries during winter until they are big enough for re-planting. Each seedling is then returned to the area the seed came from. Taking it a step further, in Tawharanui and Shakespear Regional Parks, volunteers run nurseries at the parks. And, if you need any more encouragement, many planting initiatives put on a sausage sizzle and light refreshments when it's time to down tools.
Saturdays of June 22 and 29.
The former Salvation Army's addiction treatment centre, Rotoroa Island was reopened in 2011 as an arts, heritage and conservation estate where nature is being rehabilitated instead of people. This month's two tree planting days are in wetlands and bush, so sturdy boots are essential. Bring lunch, drinks, wet weather gear and warm clothes, and dry shoes for returning home on the ferry. The island supplies spades and gloves as well as tea and coffee. Children are welcome but they must be supervised by an adult at all times. Planting sites are in pretty easy ground but wetland areas will be muddy and on the edges of ponds. Because numbers are limited to 30 helpers each day, get your name down pretty smartly.
Ferry tickets can be booked through 360 (0800 360 3472). When booking, mention you're going to volunteer, as 360 usually offer a healthy discount to tree planters.
All over Auckland, all year
Each year thousands of volunteers and park staff brave all kinds of weather to plant tens of thousands of seedlings across the vast network of council parks. These events are relatively easy to find on the Auckland Council website.
This month several short planting sessions are being run.
Meola Creek Weeding, Saturday 8 June, 10am-1pm, 990 Great North Rd.
Tuff Crater, Northcote, Sunday June 9, 10am till noon.
Parry Kauri Park, Warkworth, Sunday June 9, 10am till noon.
Duder Regional Park, Sunday June 16, 10am-noon.
Forest and Bird's Kiwi Conservation Club has been teaching Kiwi kids about New Zealand's wildlife and wild places for more than 20 years.
KCC co-ordinators arrange adventures for about 16,000 members around the country, exploring local beaches and forests, tree planting, creating lizard gardens or making nesting boxes for little blue penguins (in the south).
To join up or check out local tree-planting or weed-clearing sessions, go to kcc.org.nz
If you don't dig any of these dates, check out Auckland Council's excellent website ecoevents.org.nz, which has a very helpful calendar of events for people looking to give some of their time to natural causes including planting, waste recycling, and building up a "nana pantry".
1363 Great North Rad, Waterview.
Tree Planting day, Sunday June 2, 10am-12pm,
Annual Bird Monitoring, Saturday June 29, 9-11am.
Oakley Creek is amazing: go and see for yourself. Behind Carrington and Unitec and on the cusp of Waterview, pleasing paths pass through regenerating native bush to reach the thing that really blows people's minds, the giant waterfall. On warm days you'll see brave souls leaping from the top into the bubbling pool below. The Friends of Oakley Creek have helped transform a dirty old stream into a thing of beauty.
This Sunday they're planting above the waterfall: just follow the orange ribbon trail from the Unitec Student Car park (near Bldg 76) along the mown grass area. As with all these tree-planting fiestas, sturdy shoes are a must, and bring gloves and a spade if you have them.
Or, if you want to take part in the Landcare Research Garden Bird Survey, (happening in many locations from June 29-July 7) meet at the Unitec student residence car park on June 29 wearing warm, wet weather clothing.
Bring a bird ID book and binoculars if you have them; you'll be trained by an expert to - yes - sit and count birds.
You won't regret bringing a thermos, some snacks and something dry to sit on, either.
For information on Friends of Oakley Creek, call 027-232-6454 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Today, Pa Harakeke, off Merrill Place, Eskdale Rad, Glenfield
Members of the Kaipatiki Project are responsible for the planting of thousands of native trees, plants and grasses in the Eskdale Reserve Network in Glenfield and at Hobsonville Point.
They know how satisfying it is to plant trees with lots of other people: many helpers say getting involved makes them feel connected to the world around them and their community.
Tree planting days are held on the first Saturday of each month at locations around the Eskdale Reserve network (Glenfield/Birkdale) and at Hobsonville Point (Isitt Rd) and they have weekday planting too.
A free barbecue is usually put on to thank everyone. Bring your own spade if you have one, although gloves and spare spades are available for those who need them.
Kaipatiki also provides environmental education across Auckland for schools and organisations on subjects like waste minimisation, pollution, mangroves, pests and predators, plant propagation and sustainable living.
One of their most well-attended sessions is the Create Your Own Eden Composting Course that introduces people to the three main composting systems - traditional, worm-farm and bokashi. Seminars are free and are being held today, on June 8 and June 15 in Royal Oak.
Full details are given when you book.
Funky Fungi at Murphy's Bush with Clive Shirley
Saturday June 29, 1pm
While we're on the subject of trees and the great outdoors, who hasn't noticed the proliferation of fungi everywhere? And don't you wonder what's what? Clive Shirley is your man. Check out his website hiddenforest.co.nz/fungi for more on the world beneath your feet. Join him for an exciting afternoon hunting for and identifying mushrooms. Wear old clothes and prepare for rain, just in case. Also bring a camera, and a few containers if you wish to collect things.
Numbers are limited so registrations are essential email SouthAuckland@kcc.org.nz