Planting trees to help restore Lake Runanga west of Hastings is taking on new community dimensions for farmer, nurseryman and conservationist Bernie Gunn as he contemplates getting about 20,000 into the ground this month.

He's hoping half of them will be planted by members of the public in The Big Lake Runanga Shindig on May 31.

"If we get a hundred people on the day, that's a hundred each - I'd like to think at least 10,000 will be planted," said Mr Gunn, who has lived much of his life in the area off Ohiti Rd, near Fernhill.

Father Alan's property is one of about five which include parts of the lake.


"I used to shoot ducks here," Bernie Gunn said, with some irony in the approach to the new duckshooting season starting this weekend.

"Now I'm more inclined to restore it," he said.

The trees will come from his own nursery, but represent only a small number of those to be planted to restore forest, filtration and wildlife systems to the lake and its surrounds over the next few years - possibly as many as one million plantings to restore the complete perimeter of the lake.

A day each year will be set aside for the public to be involved, and the good news for those contemplating a hard day out at the end of this month is that the holes will be "pre-dug" by a team of 8-10 conservation volunteers, who will also plant about 10,000 other trees.

The project is backed by the Department of Conservation, Fish and Game, Birds New Zealand, and the Hawke's Bay Regional Council, and is the fruition of at least 15 years of concern about the environmental imbalance caused by the land uses of the area.

The May 31 Shindig, starting at 8.30am, will also include "live music", a barbecue and bonfire.