If you have a question about Te Mata Park's plants, Mike Lusk is the man to ask.
The volunteer knows every plant growing on the peak by its Latin name.
He can tell you where it comes from and why it's there; Mike takes pride in caring for all plants at the park, including some found only on Te Mata Peak.
Mike said his passion for plants began when he was a kid at school where he loved taking nature studies classes.
However, he didn't pick it up again until after his kids left home and Mike retired.
Te Mata Park Trust manager Emma Buttle said Mike is "as strong as an ox, very capable and a willing contributor to the park".
"He is truly remarkable," she said.
Mike started his volunteer work in the 1990s, then founded the Friends of Te Mata Park volunteer group in 2002. Now, 20 years later, he still leads the group and also spends a lot of his own time working in the park.
For 30 years, Mike and his family have lived down the road from Te Mata Park gates, which gave the four children a 99ha backyard to roam in as they grew up.
Now the retired GP turned conservationist spends his time giving back to the park by leading volunteer groups.
Friends of Te Mata Park focus on weed control, track maintenance and planting. The group is responsible for looking after the more0accessible parts of the park and keeping them clean.
They gather once a month to pull or dig out weeds, plant native species, pick up rubbish and tend the tracks. Mike organises each day's tasks according to the seasons and whatever is most pressing.
It takes careful thought because everything has a consequence: getting rid of feral cats allows the rat population to flourish; clearing long grass allows thistles to flourish; allowing rabbits to flourish means trouble for young trees.
A Te Mata Park Trust spokesperson said Mike and his team provided an invaluable service to the park and the broader community.
In 2019, Mike received a Civic Honours Award for volunteer and caretaker work at Te Mata Park, dedicated many hours to maintaining, caring for and making improvements to the park.
When he won the award, a Hastings District Council spokesperson said Mike's efforts had been enjoyed by thousands of residents and out-of-town visitors.
"It is largely thanks to his efforts that the park is the taonga that it is today," the spokesperson said.
If you are interested in joining Mike and the Friends of Te Mata Park, get in contact via: https://www.tematapark.co.nz/get-involved/