Janetta Mackay: Get your hands dirty

By Janetta Mackay

Viva beauty editor Janetta Mackay digs in to support the New Zealand Landcare Trust.
Viva beauty editor Janetta Mackay digs in to support the New Zealand Landcare Trust.

Most days of the week at least one of my finger nails is painted a curious colour. Today I'm wearing an on-trend metallic green on my pinky. When I see other women with just one decorated digit, I reckon rather than following the fashion for rocking a feature nail, just like me they are probably simply taking the lazy way of trying the latest polish shade to across their desks.

This is because I spend a bit of time at events and launches about town checking out the grooming habits of my fellow beauty editors. We're an odd mix of young dollies and old ducks - I fall squarely in the latter camp - and trying products is a big part of our job. For most of us, regular deadlines mean there simply isn't the time to commit to the effort of giving ourselves endless manicures.

Thank heavens then for gardening gloves which we all needed last week when around a dozen of us were rounded up to plant trees. As PR exercises go it was a good one, and fun to see everyone in casual gear, barring one glamourpuss in a designer dress who swears she was a last-minute ring-in. This being a fashion and beauty crowd, there was much talk about the merits of high-heeled gumboots as worn in Manhattan and Hong Kong when the sidewalks get sloshy.

Rather than donning Marc Jacobs, I slipped into a pair of No. 1 Shoe Warehouse black gumboots to tread the shingle path leading to the Cascades Reserve in Howick, where a pile of native trees awaited our attentions.

Our mission was to plant a mere few hundred, adding to the 10,000 trees the New Zealand Landcare Trust has already committed to its first urban outreach, called the Volcano to the Sea project. This independent charitable trust, set up in 1996, has done much to encourage sustainable land management in rural areas, including working with farmers to replant ecologically fragile areas and restore wetlands.

Tree planting at Cascades Reserve in Howick. Photo / Rob Trathern
Tree planting at Cascades Reserve in Howick. Photo / Rob Trathern

Working in an urban catchment is relatively new, and the trust has partnered with community groups and local schools to get things done. Corporate involvement is encouraged also, because funding is always n issue. Big beauty company Johnson & Johnson has signed on to support the trust, seeing this as a happy synergy with its Neutrogena naturals range which uses naturally derived ingredients and packaging made of recycled materials.

"Clean water is a very topical issue," says the trust's James Barnett. "This partnership will help increase awareness of the work we are carrying out with local communities, especially in Auckland, and highlight the practical things that people can do to live a sustainable lifestyle."

The Volcano to the Sea project aims to improve the water quality and surrounding environment of a stretch running the few kilometres from dormant Pigeon Mountain, through the Wakaaranga Creek and Pakuranga Stream catchments and down to the Tamaki River and the sea. A focal point is Cascades Reserve which is tucked behind Lloyd Elsmore Park and has a small waterfall in a glade. In a few years time, I'll go back and check out the banks we dug and planted in what seems destined to become a popular local picnic spot.

Helping out was an easy task and a reminder that there's plenty of community projects out there that could do with a hand from time to time. Schools do a lot of this stuff, but it's good to see companies taking up the challenge as well. Individuals can also make a difference, but it's more fun if you get together in a group, provided you don't mind rolling up your sleeves and not worrying about your nails.

To find out more see landcare.org.nz.

- VIVA

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