The star cluster Matariki (Pleiades) rises again on July 13 and we will once more see the light of the nine stars that make up this remarkable cluster. I love how well known Matariki has become over the past decade, celebrated as an important marker of the beginning of the Māori New Year.
I celebrated the beginning of Matariki season by taking part in the first of three community planting events, held on the last Saturday of June at Parihaka. I lost count of how many native trees and shrubs we planted, but the number would have been significant considering how many volunteers and community groups mucked in on the day.
It was a heart-warming sight and reminded me once more what a special place Whangārei District is. The next two planting events will be happening on the Saturdays of July 11 and July 25 - I encourage you to take part if you can. It's a wonderful experience where you're guaranteed to meet friendly, community-minded people.
In the spirit of Matariki and new beginnings, today is also the day we kick off the Pōhutukawa Coast Programme for 2020. Over the past 29 years, we have given away nearly 70,000 native trees. I have a personal affinity with this project, being involved in my role as Horticulture Supervisor at Whangarei District Council during the 1990s. What started as an effort to re-establish coastal pōhutukawa, has become a conscious movement towards championing our native trees and wildlife, and today our District is all the richer because of it.
From today, each ratepayer in our district can collect two native trees from one of the suppliers as follows:
City dwellers and people living in the north of the district can drop in to Botanica in First Avenue between 10am and 4pm, seven days a week.
Tutukaka Coast residents collect trees from Tawapou Coastal Natives Nursery, phone 434 3971.
Southern residents may pick up trees from Robbie Jones, phone 432 7329.
People living to the northeast and Whangārei Heads can pick them up from Alan Willis and Rona Mahy-Willis, phone 436 2808.
Ask these experts for advice on the best plants to take for planting. Consider your soil type and property situation before choosing your tree, as not all native trees enjoy high winds, wet feet or salty coastal breezes. You might also want to consider whether your chosen trees need full sun or partial shade, and think of the future height of any tree you're planting – are there power lines nearby, or is there a view that could be affected?
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Be kind to your new native trees and give them a home that will suit them now and into the future, and celebrate Matariki through planting and regenerating our native taonga.
If you have any questions about the Pōhutukawa Coast Programme call our friendly Contact Centre team on 09 430 4200.