Watercare and Paparimu School dig deep for Hūnua farm


The Tasman Tempest wreaked havoc in the Hūnua Ranges earlier this year and Paparimu School students recently did their bit to prevent further soil erosion and slips by planting 600 native plants on a farm in Hūnua, as part of the Trees For Survival programme.

For more than a decade, Watercare and Auckland Rotary have provided local schools: Paparimu, Hūnua, Ardmore, Ararimu and Clevedon with thousands of trays of seedlings, which the pupils raise and then later plant at local rural properties.

On Thursday 24 August, Paparimu School visited Glasgow Farm, near Hūnua Gorge, together with Watercare volunteers and a member of Drury Rotary, to do some planting on a steep section of a paddock. It’s the third time the students have visited John Glasgow’s farm and he was delighted to see them again.

“We’ve got one patch of trees that was planted nine years ago and they’re certainly growing well. The kids and volunteers do a fantastic job and we’ll be putting on a good feed later.”   

Pictured above: Paparimu School students Ava Haskell, left, and Ricky Leigh Moka with Watercare volunteer Edward Tinald.

Four species were planted: manuka, harakeke (common flax), ti kouka (cabbage trees) and karimu. Trees For Survival’s field officer and planting day coordinator Lynda Whylie says these species are particularly tough and hardy.

“The seedlings are tiny when the kids get them and they grow to about 30 to 40cm over a year.

“We’re really grateful for Watercare’s involvement. The sites are assessed for soil erosion and water quality. The benefits to birdlife are lovely too but those are the main two criteria that sites are assessed for before they’re chosen.”

The Hūnua Ranges received unprecedented levels of rain during the Tasman Tempest rain event in March, sending silt and sediment into Watercare’s dams, creating problems for the Ardmore Water Treatment Plant.

The Glasgows' family farm was also affected—a large slip was clearly visible close to the planting site, a good reminder of why planting trees is so important in preventing erosion. 

Watercare staff regularly volunteer to take part in the planting programme. It was Prem Singh’s first time and he forgot to bring his gumboots, but what he lacked in footwear, he made up for with enthusiasm: “I think it’s important that Watercare puts something back into the community and demonstrates that we are an environmentally-friendly organisation. I think it’s a really good thing that we are out here planting trees.”