Volunteers have been helping the Conservation Department with building, weeding and cleaning in the lead-up to summer.

A group weeds and plants in the Gordon Park Scenic Reserve every fortnight, some Royal New Zealand Navy paddlers helped move a building, Friends of the Whanganui River gave John Coull Hut a spring clean and a team of builders have made a new deck for Trains Hut.

The Friends of Gordon Park Scenic Reserve have been working there for 11 years, chairman Colin Ogle said. Most of their work has been weeding.

But they have also collected seed and grown it on, with the help of schools. When the plants are big enough they are used to extend the forest out towards the reserve's current fenced boundaries.

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The reserve contains two very threatened small native plants, Gratiola concinna and Mazus novae zelandiae, as well as other, larger, rare species. The group keeps them protected, and adds to them by planting into gaps in the forest.

It also lists the plants in the forest, has invited experts to identify its mosses and liverworts, and guides visitors around when asked.

The reserve is important as one of the last patches of lowland kahikatea forest left in the region. It is quite different from other local forest, such as the forest at Bushy Park, Ogle said.

 A Royal New Zealand Navy group helped remove a building at Mangapāpapa Kainga on the Whanganui River in October. Photo / Susan Nicholson
A Royal New Zealand Navy group helped remove a building at Mangapāpapa Kainga on the Whanganui River in October. Photo / Susan Nicholson

In October a navy group paddled the Whanganui Journey and offered to help with a project. Working with the Conservation Department and Te Wānanga o Mangapāpapa Trust chairman Harold Haitana it helped remove an old and unsafe structure from Mangapāpapa Kainga on the Whanganui River within Whanganui National Park.

"Words can't express how thankful we were to have the New Zealand navy help us remove the old kitchen," kaumātua Robert (Boy) Cribb said.

Also within the park, a group of 11 Friends of the Whanganui River spent two days helping Conservation Department recreation and historic ranger Dave Westcott prepare John Coull Hut for the summer season.

They scrubbed the hut from top to bottom, tied tanks down and built decks, Westcott said. During the season that hut will be staffed by volunteer hut wardens, who will support visiting paddlers.

And just this month a group of builders volunteered their time to build a new deck for Trains Hut, which is in the Waitōtara Conservation Area.

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The department would like to thank all these volunteers for their mahi, senior community ranger Susan Nicholson said.