The long-held dream of restoring Queen Elizabeth Park to its natural state, full of native flora and fauna, is becoming a reality thanks to collaboration between the Maclean Trust, Paekākāriki based company Groundtruth, and the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

Last week a ceremony took place at the park to celebrate the beginning of the planting, the start of the second phase.

Much of the planning has been done thanks to a new system called Qplant created by Groundtruth who have been contracted to do the job, providing the science behind the project.

Interest around turning land back to its former glory, to its natural, native state, has been growing nationally but Groundtruth managing director Peter Handford thinks there has been a lack of planning with the right processes not managed properly nor done to this scale before.


"What we've done working alongside the Greater Wellington Regional Council is a lot of work developing better systems working through from collecting seeds from plants, establishing them and looking after them for the first few years.

"Think of it as a native tree kindergarten.

"We don't just plant the trees and leave them to fend for themselves but manage them from seeds through to toddlers.

"We are managing the process right through from the land planning, getting the right seed for this area, producing plants in a particular way so that they will survive and do really well in this environment and we're going to manage it right through."

Groundtruth's approach has been successfully trialled in the park over the last five years and promises flourishing native forest that will be rapidly established over the next few years.

"Revegetation areas are often a few hundred square metres but this is 25 hectares.

"We are providing a forest, not just some plants."

Made possible by a generous $300,000 donation from the Maclean Trust, Chris Maclean said, "We saw an opportunity here for investing on a big scale.


"We need to kick start climate change mitigation in the district as there's not much leadership from central and local government and no policy from the Kāpiti Coast District Council for the next 20 years so we need to set an example for what needs to be done.

"It's quite hard to find projects that are demonstrable.

"It's got roads on either side so it's got a highly educative function as well."

Started by his parents in 1970, the trust has mostly given money to people-based activities in the past with Chris recognising that funding this project is a step in a different direction.

"It's quite a change of focus for us to shift from people to the environment and that simply reflects mine and my son's interest in environmental matters.

"It's an ecological restoration but it's also going to be a great recreation area for everyone."

The transformation of the area will take place over five years with extensive replanting of native species, such as kanuka, manuka, ti kouka (cabbage tree) and harakeke (flax) which will lead to significantly enhanced biodiversity and improved water quality and provide shelter for existing plants such as kahikatea, pukatea, kohekohe and titoki.

Recreational access will also be improved with water quality, weed and animal control all part of the five year plan.