Planting trees to make a difference - that's why 11 year old Breena was so excited on Friday morning.

The Puketaha Primary School pupil was just one of about 1,500 volunteers that helped plant 17,600 trees and shrubs at Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park in Hamilton.

It's all in the name of Arbor Day, an international worldwide initiative on June 5th where people are encouraged to plant and care for trees.

"We came here last year and it's really good to see the trees we have planted already," Breena said.


Breena then checked and gently teased the roots of a tree before her classmate, Bella planted it.

"I'm making sure the soil's soft enough for it to go in and grow properly," 10 year old Bella said.

"It really is all about planting trees," said Gerard Kelly, Community Planting Co-ordinator for the Hamilton City Council.

"We call it restoration but the Waikato University experts would like us to call it reconstruction. This used to be farmland and before that it used to be a forest and this area used to be a wetland so we're changing it back to that wetland habitat," Kelly said.

The project started 14 years ago and they expect to keep filling the land here with trees and plants for the next ten years.

Pupils amd teachers from nearby Rotokauri School saw Aerbor Day as an opportunity.

"It's a chance to restore the balance a bit," said teacher, Neville Harding. "This is a wetland and we're trying to help look after the roto and look after the lake."

One of Harding's pupils, 11 year old Koen learned that trees are good for the environment.


"They clean the air," he said.

Kelly said the tamariki will be able to take care of the wetland for years to come and it's great everyone was so passionate about the project.

"It's just energy too! The energy to plant trees." he said. "It's the green gym. You don't need to spend thousands of dollars on how to get fit, just come out and do the planting."

Rotokauri School teacher, Mary Evans was equally enthusiastic. "The kids just love, it they really do. And it's neat for us being in the community to help our own community,"

Made with funding from