Twenty-five years ago, the developers of Camelot in Otaihanga gifted to the Kāpiti Coast District Council a piece of low lying, wet and boggy paddock with a stream running through it.

Beyond the stream were some steep, windswept old sand dunes – an unpromising piece of reserve, its only saving grace a small stand of kahikatea.

But two people, Viola and Phil Palmer, had a vision for that land as a bush reserve, planted with native trees and providing part of a bird corridor from sea, up the Waikanae River to the Tararuas.

Driven by that vision, and by energy, enthusiasm and expertise, they persuaded council, Forest and Bird, and a whole group of volunteers that the planting of native trees would make the area a jewel on the Kāpiti Coast.


Twenty-five years later, at Greendale reserve, the bush is luxuriant, the kowhai are flowering richly and the tui sit atop them disputing nectar sipping rights with their fellows in a noisy cacophony.

Below grey warblers flit through the trees occasionally stopping long enough to sing half a tune, while the fantail busily catch flies above the stream.

The results of 25 years planting, weeding, nurturing trees every Tuesday morning (only the heaviest rain daunts Phil and Viola) is impressive to see.

But on Tuesday, September 8 all this changed. The present volunteers downed tools to celebrate the vision and determination of the Palmers over the years.

Along with KCDC who had metalled one of the tracks and put up a celebratory sign, the group watched Phil and Viola unveil the sign that named the track after them and gave testimony to that vision and continuing commitment over so many years.

That group of kahikatea must have been young saplings when the Treaty of Waitangi was being signed.

Now their prolific offspring are springing up throughout the reserve and in another 200 years they will form the canopy and their offspring will be spreading through the neighbourhood.

Phil and Viola Palmer's vision still has a long way to go to completion.


Written by Chris Dearden