Whanganui has lots of volunteers supporting community groups that enhance our city and the community's wellbeing. This is a story of just one group.

Children at Castlecliff and Aranui School assemblies were delighted to celebrate how their efforts had helped Castlecliff Coast Care win a national award, demonstrating how Progress Castlecliff's Coast Care project has become strongly community orientated.

Community groups, a regular band of helpers as well as schools are all involved.
We've enjoyed taking the trophy, which depicts a pingao runner, along to meetings, assemblies and a pizza lunch to acknowledge this collective help.

Volunteers come along to community planting days in response to our Facebook posts and callouts in Midweek and River City Press. They work hard planting natives to enhance our Castlecliff rear dune ecology with flaxes, cabbage trees, ngaios, hebe, taupata, korokio and karamu. Young family groups mix with gold card holders, and every age in between!


While the dune area becomes a hive of activity, another team of helpers work hard in the Duncan Pavilion kitchen, putting together a yummy celebratory lunch of soup, sausages, bread, cheese, biscuits and fruit, plus of course the mandatory cuppa of tea and coffee. These are great opportunities to catch up with likeminded people, many of whom are regulars at these winter planting sessions.

These Community Planting Days not only achieve the primary objective of expanding the area of rear dunes regenerated with native plants (replacing weeds and Wattle) but also;
• provide a fun outdoor environmental learning experience for children
• provide a "team" working session for all
• provide our regular volunteers with a boost, as they see other people enthusiastically helping in their Coast Care project
• provide a chance to further build Castlecliff's Community spirit,
• give importance to Castlecliff as Whanganui's beach suburb.

These kinds of "extras" would not be possible without the support of local organisations that provide financial and in-kind support. So, a special thank you to those making the tough decisions on who and what to support in our community.

Progress Castlecliff remains the foundation organisation. Horizon's Regional Council Community grants have paid for repairs, maintenance, and fuel. Whanganui District Council and their staff support with plants, finance and time.

The Department of Conservation has backed the group with a further three-year grant. Locals Geoff and Judy Potts of Parnell Nursery have provided plants from the beginning.

This year Coast Care has an added excitement. We have 400 spinifex and 300 pingao sand binder plant to boost the fore-dune environment. These have been grown for us by Coastlands Nursery from seed collected the previous January by Coast Care volunteers from plants on our own Castlecliff fore-dunes. It is great to bring them back home.

We are also looking forward to helping host the 2021 Coastal Restoration Trust NZ Conference in Whanganui next March.

Planting in the dunes at Castlecliff. Photos / Supplied
Planting in the dunes at Castlecliff. Photos / Supplied

If you'd like to be part of Castlecliff Coast Care's winter Community Planting Days, dress up warm, and meet us at The Duncan Pavilion, Rangiora St on Sunday, August 23, at 10.30am; or Saturday, September 19 for an afternoon planting session starting at 1.30pm. Reminders will be in the What's On pages of our Whanganui community papers and Castlecliff Facebook.


- Graham and Lyn Pearson's community involvement includes Castlecliff and Sustainable Whanganui Trust activities.