A north Hokianga family is making lasting changes to its 200ha farm by leaving an environmental legacy for generations to come.
Motukauri Whakaora is an inspiring native planting project on the Guest whānau's 200ha farm in the north Hokianga, not far from Motutī.
For the older family members this has long been a dream, a legacy for future generations. Now, with Bill Guest, the family patriarch aged 99, the time to transform these dreams into reality has arrived, guided by the project co-ordinators David and Diana Mules, and the farm manager Lindsay Guest.
David said that, with the support of the wider family, this vision is proving to be a strongly uniting influence.
They have planted 20,000 trees already, and aim to plant in excess of 60,000 in total over the next three years, with 33ha involved in the entire project.
It is clear that this is not only about leaving an environmental legacy, but it is also deepening the connections and sense of belonging to this special place.
Motukauri includes a pā on a 12ha headland that juts out into the Hokianga Harbour. As its name suggests, it is almost an island, being joined by a grassy sand spit between mangroves to the mainland farm.
It is clear why the pā was built by the tūpuna on this site, with stunning views in all directions of the twists and turns of Hokianga, from the wahapū up to Rawene. The headland was originally purchased for sawmilling in 1831 when kauri was in hot demand for shipping, and two years later it became the site of one of the last battles of the musket wars in the north.
The Guest whānau have been farming this land since the early 1900s, with their sixth generation now growing up at Motukauri.
So, there are many historical and cultural values embedded in this landscape, with its ancestral connections for many Hokianga whānau. With this background, there was never any question about what to plant. Naturally it would be native trees, for all the environmental, biodiversity, and cultural values that they hold, to be recognised and enjoyed by all who wish to be associated with this project.
David said that the project "reflects the changing ideas and attitudes about what the right thing to do is, at this time, in this era." But support from outside is helping make it happen.
"Support from Trees That Count has helped make it real for us. And that this is not just an isolated project, but part of a significant national movement – part of something bigger that represents the renaissance of a more respectful relationship with Papatūānuku."
Trees That Count were proud to offer Motukauri Whakaora native trees as part of a native tree planting initiative in honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee.
They are one of 15 outstanding restoration projects planting 100,000 native trees across the country for the Jubilee, all of which will benefit local communities as well as future generations.
Members of the community who wish to help to plant native trees in honour of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations and to support this project can attend a Motukauri Whakaora planting day on June 4. Register to attend at treesthatcount.co.nz/qpj