Castlecliff Coast Care is a small group run by volunteers who plant natives throughout the dunes at Castlecliff beach.
The group was established in 2005 by the late Ted Frost, a former editor of Wellington's Dominion newspaper, who retired to Whanganui. Frost organised for PD workers to clear the wattle and other introduced species from the dunes and plant natives instead.
Graham and Lynn Pearson joined the efforts early on, and continue to this day to plant native grasses like Pingao and Spinifex to strengthen the dunes.
The council is among those who provide plants at no charge, but Coast Care says more needs to be done to restore the dunes which are made more volatile by marram grass and wattle, planted in the 1950s.
The introduced species mis-shape the dunes, causing them to collapse. Left unchecked, tonnes of sand can shift, causing havoc on drains and other infrastructure.
"A lot of the regional councils have a paid person who goes around and supports their local community dune groups," Graham Pearson said.
"We haven't got that around here so we need to get our local council and our regional council to get their heads around coastal restoration coastal issues."
The Castlecliff group is affiliated with the national Coastal Restoration Trust, which holds a conference every year. At the recent conference in Invercargill, Castlecliff Coast Care pitched Whanganui as a conference venue. As well as the pitch being successful, the group was recognised for their outstanding community effort.
"The Coastal Restoration Trust has two prizes, one for the person who has done heaps and one is for a community group who have done a lot of work," Pearson said. "It's not designed for the amount of work or the big area or anything. It's about community groups and involving community, so I think they recognise the fact that we have got a lot of people helping."
One of the group's outstanding contributors is Ideas Services, which join in every Tuesday morning. Often, Coast Care get calls from people looking for projects for kids and young adults.
"I've had a couple of girls email me, that they want to do a project for the community as part of their Duke of Edinburgh [qualification]. People just turn up from all sorts of places wanting to join in, it's really neat."
The conference planned for next year will require a lot more planning, because of the lingering impact of the Covid-19 crisis.
"Quite a few people are keen to come they tell us. They think Whanganui is a great place to visit or they haven't visited and would like to come, so we need to set up a committee now.
"And we need to do a bit of fundraising. which might be a bit tough because council and everyone are going to be a bit short of money."
Pearson says those wanting to join should watch the paper. There are usually two community planting days in July and August.
"We will plant for a couple of hours on a Saturday or Sunday and then will go back to the Duncan Pavilion and have a meal together and just celebrate what we've done."
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