Department of Conservation communications relations manager
Susie Geh and biodiversity ranger Ray Malloy enjoy a
well-deserved lunch after she and 35 volunteers planted
over 120 trees and shrubs at Lake Hayes on Saturday
morning. Photo by James Beech.
An Otago-wide initiative to bring back native kowhai
trees has taken root in the Wakatipu, as 35 volunteers mucked
in at the Lake Hayes walkway on Saturday morning, planting over
120 trees and shrubs.
Project Gold is the first step in re-establishing hundreds of
the tough but colourful native trees in the region.
The species is unique to New Zealand, and is valued by Maori
for its medicinal properties. It also attracts nectar-feeding
indigenous birds such as tui, bellbird and kaka.
The Department of Conservation (Doc) in Otago launched
Project Gold at the Otago Conservation Awards in Cromwell
The inaugural official planting of 50 kowhai trees and 120
shrubs, including coprosma and olearia varieties, doubled as
the project launch in the Wakatipu on Saturday.
Doc invited volunteers to bring sturdy footwear, gloves, a
spade or a shovel, with the lure of a barbecue afterward,
with Doc community relations manager Susie Geh saying she was
thrilled with the turnout.
Queenstown tourism operator Kiwi Discovery provided $10,000
of sponsorship a year for the next three years.
Community meetings have been held in Queenstown and
Glenorchy. Staff from the Doc Wakatipu area office have
assessed the suitability of several public and private sites
for kowhai planting.
A further 1500 trees were growing in an Otago Polytechnic
nursery, being readied for planting out.
Ms Geh said the positive response to Project Gold was
"amazing" and staff were working hard to keep up with the
interest it had created.
Residents were being encouraged to "adopt a kowhai site",
which they can plant and enjoy for years to come, she said.
"The community will provide the manpower and time and Doc
will provide technical support. In the next year, several
sites will be cleared and weeded in preparation for planting
kowhai and other supporting natives.
"We're also working with our local Enviroschools
representative to introduce the project into Queenstown
schools and encourage local children to get involved," Ms Geh