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‘Super-volunteer’ honoured at Waiwhakareke

‘Super-volunteer’ honoured at Waiwhakareke


As far as ‘super-volunteers’ go, you’d be hard pressed to find one better than Craig Tehuia. With 73 volunteer hours under his belt Craig came off night-shift to join over 60 volunteers last Sunday for a working bee at Waiwhakareke to mark International Volunteer Day. Volunteers ‘liberated’ over 4000 Arbor Day trees from Summer weeds at the event. Many volunteers came from overseas or had sacrificed their shift day-off to be there. The event was organised as part of Council’s flagship project to develop Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park as a 60 hectare restored wetland.

The day was sponsored by Fonterra and Conservation Volunteers (CV) to celebrate the first year of their Catchment Care programme partnership. Conservation Volunteers board representative Eddie Morrow took the opportunity to present a number of awards on the day for outstanding volunteering efforts. Along with tropical forests and coral reefs, wetlands are known to be the most precious and productive environments in the world. Yet today all but 1% of Hamilton’s native wetlands have vanished, taking with them rare plants and wildlife.

When it is restored the Waiwhakareke wetland will be a rich resource for all Hamilton residents to enjoy - drawing an estimated 85,000 visitors per annum by 2027 and supporting recreation, education, conservation and science. Already the Park has drawn international recognition. It is one of Australasia's Highly Commended ecological restoration projects, as judged by the Global Restoration Network. Community planting co-ordinator Gerard Kelly says, “Waiwhakareke is a grassroots community project that simply would not be possible without the awesome efforts of volunteers like Craig. “Seven years ago, in 2003, when Hamilton City Council agreed to develop Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park on land the city owned, it was nothing but a paddock and a pond.

“Since then community volunteers have transformed the area with over 4,500 people dedicating 10,000 hours to plant 110,000 seedlings – it’s inspired us to want to do even more in 2011!” Kelly says plans are afoot for “something big” at the Park for Arbour Day in 2011. “We want to lay down a real challenge for businesses and the community – a challenge we can all be proud of.” But Kelly says it’s ‘mum’s the word’ until the big reveal. Details of the event are to be launched on www.waiwhakareke.co.nz early in the New Year.


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