Could Hastings become predator free and be a leader when it comes to biodiversity in New Zealand?

That question was asked at Hastings District Council during submissions on the Raureka Parks Reserves Management Plan on Wednesday.

Council was discussing the future of Ebbett Park, St Leonards Park and Whenua Takoha Reserve, and the idea of creating corridors for native birds by planting native trees in all three was raised.

Submitter Kath Purchas said Hastings was dropping the ball on biodiversity, when the city could be a leader.

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She said planting native species and providing water for birds would increase biodiversity, and also help insect populations which were vital for Hawke's Bay's horticulture industry.

She said planting native trees would also beautify the spaces and attract people to the parks.

Submitter Liv Flynn, who runs the Hawke's Bay Bird and Wildlife Rescue, said she could provide rehabilitated native birds, provided it was a safe place for them with food and water available.

"We get a lot in which we need areas for, if there are proper food sources at these parks, I can then repopulate these areas with tui or even I can bring in kereru."

Both Purchas and Flynn said they wanted to work with other groups in Hawke's Bay, such as the regional council, as they felt that way they could achieve something major.

Councillors seemed excited by the idea of increasing biodiversity in the city, Rob Heaps and Anne Redstone both saying they wanted to be involved.

Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst also said she wanted to get the ball rolling on a biodiversity strategy.

"Let's make it happen, councillors."

Another major issue brought up during submissions on Wednesday was whether the west end of Ebbett Park should be sold.

Based on written submissions, council amended the draft plan to have the west end vested under the Reserves Act 1977, which would prevent a potential sale.

The amendment is supported by Ronald Ebbett, the grandson of George Ebbett, who donated the park to Hastings.

He did not submit to council at the meeting but told Hawke's Bay Today the original deed of trust gifted to council by his grandfather said it was to be held by council "forever and a day, or words to that effect".

Council voted to adopt the Draft Management Plan for the parks with minor amendments.