Work to help Hamilton's long-term ecological restoration project at Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park has seen Lions awards made to Fraser High School principal Virginia Crawford and former student Kaden Hughes.

They have received Lions District awards for best Environment Project and Youth Project after the school's collaboration over the past five years with Dinsdale Lions Club in which Year 13 students helped with club projects at the park.

Students are encouraged to get involved in giving back to their community, including environmental activities and the restoration project provided the students with the ability to do just that.

The aim is that over time the project — which also sees regular Arbor Day community planting efforts at Waiwhakareke — will recreate the natural forest, wetland and eco systems that existed at the site before European settlement.

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The Fraser High students would volunteer their time on the last Saturday of every month by either planting native trees or weeding.

At the recent Lions District Convention in Cambridge, their efforts were judged the best Environment Project and Youth Project for the district.

Working on the 60ha park also gave the students a chance to work closely with club members.


The members, while being a source of advice, also found they learned just as much from the young adults.

The Lions said the collaboration allowed the students to develop communication and people skills, while teaching the club members about the upcoming generation.

The students are also invited to attend their club's dinner meetings three or four times a year at no cost to themselves.

Fraser High School head students are also invited to attend Lions business meetings every month, so the students can learn how to run meetings and also learn communication skills and good "people" skills.

Various businesses have brought staff to Arbor Day in the past and the feedback has always been very positive. Photo / Hamilton City Council
Various businesses have brought staff to Arbor Day in the past and the feedback has always been very positive. Photo / Hamilton City Council

This year for Arbor Day on Friday, May 31, business bosses and staff are being encouraged to get involved with planting at Waiwhakareke.

Hamilton's business leaders and managers are being urged to let their staff step away from their computers, work stations and machines and pick up a spade for the annual planting.

Hamilton City Council community planting co-ordinator Gerard Kelly has overseen the event for more than a decade and is urging Hamilton's business community to get alongside school classes and volunteers for a day of planting at the park near Hamilton Zoo.

"We enjoy some great Arbor Day support from schools and voluntary and charity groups, and this year we're putting some emphasis into encouraging the business community to join us," Mr Kelly says.

"Arbor Day is a great team-building opportunity for businesses and managers — it's an activity which gets staff out of their usual workplace environments, doing a little bit of physical work in the fresh air at one of Hamilton's most picturesque locations."

Mr Kelly says various businesses have brought staff to Arbor Day in the past and the feedback has always been very positive.

Team building like Arbor Day planting can contribute to an organisation's corporate and social responsibilities, develop a sense of achievement within a team and also get staff engaged with their community.

"A small group of staff working together at Arbor Day can make a big difference to team culture and people's sense of community and professional pride," he says.

He stresses Arbor Day is not a race to plant as many specimens as possible — it's about ensuring plants are in the ground properly so they thrive.

More than 10,000 plants are planted during Arbor Day, and the focus goes on the quality of planting rather than the volume of specimens planted.

Participants are urged to wear warm clothing and gumboots, and come prepared with a planting spade (not a shovel), a bottle of water and plenty of energy.

In the event of a MetService severe weather warning, the event will be postponed to Friday, June 7.

Anyone who wishes to volunteer for planting on Arbor Day can email parksopenspaces@hcc.govt.nz to register their interest.

Groups registering are asked to indicate how many people will be participating.