From landfill to forest

Working hard to help each other plant trees at the Waikaka Way Walkway in Hamilton Park are, from...
Working hard to help each other plant trees at the Waikaka Way Walkway in Hamilton Park are, from left, Warwick Taylor, whose late father Haddon left a bequest to plant trees in the area, Liam Nutsford, 11, and Jenny Campbell. PHOTO: BEN ANDREWS
A revegetation project is turning a former landfill into a native forest.

Hamilton Park, the site of the former Gore landfill, was visited by six volunteers and Forest & Bird Southland branch members on Tuesday.

The group planted trees and shifted a memorial seat to an area of the Waikaka Way Walkway.

Southland Forest & Bird member Jenny Campbell said it was good to keep the project going.

The project, a vision of the late Margaret and Don Lamont , began in 2022.

Its goal is restoring the landfill to native forest.

"This used to be the Gore landfill site. The Lamonts were great Forest & Bird supporters," Ms Campbell said.

"They had the vision that they wanted the landfill to have a native forest. So we had a few Forest & Bird working bees."

The Lamont seat, a memorial to Mr and Mrs Lamont, was placed in their honour and paid for by Southland Forest & Bird.

The project had incorporated two more wishes from the community into its vision.

"It’s really good that we’ve brought the three together, with John Purey-Cust passing just recently, the Lamont seat being re-sited and Haddon Taylor’s bequest being used effectively to help with the Lamonts’ vision."

Two podocarpus totara (tōtara) were planted in honour of the late Mr Purey-Cust.

"In his death notice it says ‘a mighty tōtara has fallen’ — that’s where I got the idea of having them," Ms Campbell said.

All the plants came from the Pukerau Nursery and represented native species originally found in the area.

Southland Forest & Bird launched the project in 2022, but due to time constraints it was handed over to Gore District Council parks and recreation manager Keith McRobie.

Mr McRobie said it was a good way to get people helping the community.

He and St Mary’s school pupils and staff had been planting trees last week.

With help from the Gore Rotary Club, Gore River Valley Lions Club and several schools, they aim to plant 2500 natives around the lower Hamilton Park/Waikaka Way Walkway area.