A carving of Tane Mahuta (god of the forest) was unveiled
and blessed in front of iwi, staff and guests at Orokonui
Ecosanctuary on Saturday. The macrocarpa work took more
than a year and hundreds of hours at the site for carver
Alex Whitaker to complete, often in challenging conditions.
More than 30 people attended the unveiling, which even
included an appearance by a resident takahe. Photo by Linda
Former All Black and current Highlanders scrum coach Kees
Meeuws spent Father's Day digging holes at the bottom of a
gully yesterday, and enjoyed every minute.
He and about 100 others planted 2500 native trees and shrubs
at the Orokonui Scenic Reserve, a 28ha tidal estuary at the
base of Orokonui Valley near Waitati.
Mr Meeuws had his children with him and said the day was
a great success.
Warm weather, a Lion Foundation sausage sizzle and "buckets
of lollies for sustenance" meant everyone was happy, he said.
About 5000 natives were planted at the reserve last
September, and yesterday's effort was to enhance the work.
"Next year, there will be another lot planted as well, and
that area will look pretty beautiful in about 10 years'
time," he said.
Mr Meeuws is the Otago face of nationwide community
conservation project Living Legends, which was established
last year to celebrate and leave a legacy of New Zealand's
hosting of the Rugby World Cup.
Nationwide, 170,000 native plants will be dug into the soil
through the project before its completion in 2015.
Last year, 85,000 were planted in 17 regions, set to benefit
from a further 45,000 native plants this year.
At Orokonui, the aim was to transform low-lying pasture into
a thriving natural wetland, resembling what it looked and
sounded like more than 150 years ago.
It was hoped the revived natural habitat would link Blueskin
Bay with the Orokonui Ecosanctuary, and provide further
foraging space for native birds in the area.