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Matariki planting signals first step greening the red zone

Matariki planting signals the first step in greening the red zone

24 June 2014

Singer Tiki Taane and TVs ‘bugman’ Ruud Kleinpaste will be among the celebrity guests joining community volunteers to take the first steps in greening the red zone this Saturday.

Four hundred native plants donated by Department of Conservation, a school community garden and a fruit tree grove will be planted out in Anzac Drive Reserve, east Burwood.

“This marks the start of the restoration of natural habitat within the Ōtākaro / Avon River red zone,” says Evan Smith Co-Chair of Avon-Ōtākaro Network, the group that has been campaigning for the past few years to turn the red zone into an ecological reserve and multi-purpose river park.

“It is fitting that that this work begins during Matariki – the traditional time for Māori to contemplate the past, plan for the future and plant for the new season,” says Smith.

The planting launches the Mahinga Kai Exemplar project at Anzac Drive Reserve, a project co-led by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and Avon-Ōtākaro Network.

“Our wish is to help restore the ecology of this area so that it supports and nurtures us. We want a healthy and harvestable environment and see that whitebait can be an excellent champion species for us all.

“Māori and Pākehā are united in our common pursuit and passion for whitebait. This area is a known whitebait spawning ground. We believe that if we can design the red-zone with whitebait and other key kai habitats and species first and foremost in mind, then the benefits will flow for the whole city and region.

“If its people first, however, then the reverse flow of benefits is not likely,” says Te Marino Lenihan who heads Earthquake Recovery at Ngāi Tahu.

Rev James Robinson will open the event on behalf of Ngāi Tahu on Saturday while Christchurch City Council will be represented by local Community Board Chair Andrea Cummings.

Chrissie Williams, Programme Leader of the Natural Environment Recovery Programme will also be lending a hand.

“The Natural Environment Recovery Programme includes a project to restore and enhance mahinga kai. The exemplar at Anzac Drive demonstrates what can be achieved in other places too, particularly when everyone works together on their common goals,” says Williams.

The students at the bilingual unit of Freeville School designed and built the raised beds for the community garden and will be planting and tending the vegetables in anticipation of a bumper harvest.

Local reggae band, Medway Roots, will be entertaining the gardeners, and a BBQ with hot drinks will keep everyone warm and well nourished.

Hon Nicky Wagner, Associate Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery and Associate Minister of Conservation will be flying back early from Wellington to join in at midday.

“It’s a good event for Christchurch, conservation and the red zone so I really didn’t want to miss it,” says Wagner.

During the event poet Teoti Jardine will recite his new poem Re-Zoned with the help of one of the children from Freeville School.

“As an ex-red zoner this day heralds a momentous step in the healing process for me. It is history in the making and signals the end of a prolonged period of grieving,” says Smith.

The event will take place between 10:30am and 2pm on Saturday 28 June at Anzac Drive Reserve off Chimera Crescent. Bring gumboots and warm clothing and take care with the roads. Kids and families welcome. The event will proceed rain or shine.

ENDS

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