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Huzzah! We just finished planting 3,000 native Trees into retired farmland at Tūmai Beach farm park, alongside Te Hakapupu (Pleasant River) estuary.  The Tūmai Beach Restoration Trust, who steer the kaupapa, is extremely grateful for support from the Rotary Forests of Peace, Remembrance and Community project. 

Tūmai farm park is owned by a coalition of 16 families that co-manage around 34 hectares of communally owned land between their house lots. Our Trust’s environmental enhancement plan proposes to restore native forest on half of the communal land.

We started in 2009 at ground zero: apart from a few remnant broadleafs clinging to the coastal cliffs, the only woody plants on the land following 150 years of sheep and beef farming were four matagouri bushes and 8 hawthorn and elderberry trees. So far, we have planted around 35,000 native trees. We reckon we have about 70,000 to go.

The Rotary Trees grant was a tremendous bonus for us this year! The ground we targeted is very steep and therefore not suitable for assault by bands of volunteer eco-warriors wielding sharp spades, however enthusiastic and fearless they might be.  So we hired Monowai Ecological to do the planting using the Rotary Trees funds. Monowai are an efficient, knowledgeable, and flexible team of native planting professionals based in Dunedin. The Kiwi Gaming Foundation also helped us buy plant protectors. We are plagued by hares and rabbits and the protectors also help cut the persistent coastal wind that dries the ground and seedlings.  The remaining funds, time and labour were provided by the Tūmai farm park owners.

This year we planted ‘Rotary Trees’ at two sites (1.3 and 1.1 ha). We recently planted native forests to create an ecological corridor between the two patches. We hope to plant 5,000 trees in each of the next two years to extend the forest and link it all into a mosaic of pasture and native forest.


Site # 1 at Tūmai Beach farm park was 1.4 hectares and was planted with 1,500 native trees.  The green plant protectors (‘TriGuards’) are needed to protect them from hares and rabbits, but also to cut the fierce coastal winds and avoid the seedlings drying out. We don’t like using plastic guards, but reckon that we can shift them after 2 years to the next batch of plants.

 Here’s site #1 again from further along the restoring South Arm of Te Hakapupu.  The area planted with Rotary trees is outlined.

An overhead shot of Rotary Trees ‘Site #1’ at Tūmai Beach. The photograph was taken by Matt Thomson, Monowai Ecological’s director/owner, using a drone.

Site # 2 at Tūmai Beach farm park was 1.1 hectares and was planted with 1,500 native trees.  Hat’s off to Monowai Ecological for getting the plants in so far down the cliff face!

Site #2 at Tūmai Beach farm park as seen from Te Hakapupu estuary.

An overhead shot of Rotary Trees ‘Site #2’ at Tūmai Beach. The photograph was taken by Matt Thomson, Monowai Ecological’s director/owner, using a drone. The green TriGuards protect the plants from the drying and very persistent NE winds off the sea here.  The pasture in between the forest planting areas is cut and baled by the neighbouring farmer – no stock are allowed within the Tūmai farm park in order to help the forest restoration programme.  You can see one roague bale has rolled down the hill and into our only freshwater pond. Our New Year’s challenge is to figure out how to get the bastard out of there!  We have planted Carex secta, harakeke, kahikatea and rimu around the pond and will work on its ecological restoration in the coming years.

A few photos of the Monowai Ecological team who did the hard yards.

The first step is to prepare spots in the rank grass to receive our plants.  Here’s Josh from the Monowai Ecological team using a weed bar to make a hole in the grass, which is then sprayed with glyphosate to prepare for the incoming plant. Pasture grasses have been selectively bred to maximise growth and farm productivity, so they are fierce competitors for space, sunlight, water and soil nutrients that the native Trees need to grow. Planting into nutrified retired grassland is the ultimate challenge for forest restoration inAotearoa  New Zealand.

Getting each plant into the ground is a satisfying victory.  But it’s not the end of the mahi.  The rampant grass growth at Tūmai threatens to smother the trees, so we need to ‘release’ them twice each season until they can outgrow the grass.  Here’s Jordyn from the Monowai Ecological team spray releasing using glyphosate.

We owe a lot to Chris from the Monowai Ecological team – his energy and courage allowed maximum coverage of the cliff faces for the Rotary Trees planting. But also he’s been a natural field team leader to guide us through the complete season’s planting at Tūmai farm park.

We used professional planters, the Monowai Ecological team from Dunedin, to plant the Rotary Trees this time because the ground was too dangerous for volunteers to negotiate.


Time to celebrate a milestone at Tūmai Beach farm park

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