The first Hawke's Bay Regional Council winter planting event for this year drew a record-breaking turnout.

About 200 people gathered at Waitangi Regional Park on Saturday morning for the inaugural public planting event of the season as part of Hawke's Bay Regional Council's (HBRC) Plant Thru Winter programme.

HBRC open spaces manager Stephen Cave said he had never seen so many people come along to a planting.

"It was excellent, we had a fantastic turnout."


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Part of the success was due to teaming up with the organisation, Real Exchange, to promote the event as well as people having more of an interest in conservation.

A total of 4200 natives were planted in one-and-a-half hours despite a cold southerly, he said.

"It was phenomenal and a really good atmosphere.

"People really got into it and I received lots of positive comments and feedback."

It was great seeing families get involved with children having fun outside, learning about the environment and helping in their community, he said.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council chairman Rex Graham getting his hands dirty at the event. Photo/Supplied
Hawke's Bay Regional Council chairman Rex Graham getting his hands dirty at the event. Photo/Supplied

The planting was just another step in the transformation of Waitangi Regional Park from a run-down site to a regional taonga in the last 18 months through a HBRC restoration project.

"The site has gone from having trailer loads of rubbish dumped on a daily basis to seven reports in the last 14 months."


The first stage of the project will be completed on June 30 and celebrated with another planting of about 5000 trees in partnership with Forest & Bird.

The initial stage included the creation of the carpark, new entrance, the Ātea a Rangi Star Compass, making of the wetlands, plantings, installation of signs and the laying of pathways.

A number of groups and organisation had volunteered their time to help look after the area, Cave said.

After June 30 HBRC will discuss what to do in the next stage.

"The overall objective of the project was to promote respectful use of the Waitangi area and enhance its values.

"I believe we're achieving this."

The Plant Thru Winter programme encourages people to play an active part in the environment, while highlighting the environmental enhancement work being done by tangata whenua, schools and farmers.

Saturday's planting was also a "Great Give" event co-ordinated by the Real Exchange, an online community marketplace that helps locals to connect to trade services and get things done.

There are five other Plant Thru Winter events in June and one in July.

Visit HBRC's website to register.

The main focus is on the Karamu Stream, which drains a large portion of the Heretaunga Plains including city stormwater and runoff from rural land.

As a result, water quality in the stream remains poor, but planting the edges and wetlands will help to improve this, while new trees also improve habitats for birds, insects and fish.

The regional council has also identified places in the Karamu catchment where a significant difference could be made with extra work.

The public plantings are at the new Wahaparata wetland by 236 Brookfield Rd, Havelock North and alongside the stream at Whakatu.

Other Plant Thru Winter events will be at Pukehu near Hastings, also alongside the Karamu, and a second event at Waitangi Regional Park.