At the end of each school term, we hold a tree-planting ceremony for families leaving the school. Most of the trees are planted by international families who tend to stay one year or less. These events are always special, both joyous and sad, as we farewell friends. Families are asked to select a NZ native tree from our list and these are planted into Conservation Gully. The gully will eventually become a 1-hectare forest beside the school. All trees are named and we always hope the families will return one day to see their tree. Sadly one of the parents died tragically soon after leaving New Zealand so their tree has special significance for us and the family.
Larger tree planting events are organised by the Landcare Group. These larger plantings are times for the cooler, wetter months of May to August. The first this year was in May as part of the road opening celebration. A big group of parents, children and supporters planted pioneering species, such as kanuka and tagasaste, on the slope above the new road. This slope had been planted back in August 2016 but the steep west-facing aspect proved too dry for many of the trees. This time we only planted pioneering species and planted the slope much earlier in the season. We hope they will have time to grow more roots before the hot summer afternoons in January and February.
Several followup days also focused on this same area and in total over 200 trees went in. We have received regular rain since planting so the trees have had a good start. We hope to come back to this slope in 2-3 years and have enough cover and shade to start planting taller native species such as kowhai, karaka and beech.
About 20% of the 13.6 ha farm has been allocated as nature areas and are being restored and replanted. Most of this area was pasture three years ago. The process requires the area to be fenced to exclude stock and then pioneering tree species are planted at about 2m spacing. These plants need releasing from the long grass and mulching for 2-3 years until they get established and start shading the grass below. The next stage is to underplant with the taller growing tree species that will eventually create the forest canopy. This process requires funds to build fences and buy trees and requires many hours of work. Fortunately, tree planting is a fun activity for parents and children to do together. Best of all the children are involved in a project to restore nature and they can see the results for decades to come.