Public planting days have been held at Tāwharanui Regional Park for many years. Prior to the onsite nursery being established in 2007, plants were sourced from other nurseries. For a couple of years this included plants grown at Pāremoremo Prison and delivered to the Park on the back of cattle trucks. I’m told it was backbreaking work unloading these.

The current TOSSI nursery produces close to 20,000 trees per annum. This necessitates that we involve a wider group of people to get these planted over the three winter planting days in June, July and August.

Fast forward to 2021 where we’ve learned a thing or two about running these major events! Setting out approximately 5,000 plants on the Friday prior to each planting day is a huge task. We’re fortunate this year to have had assistance by groups from Auckland Council (June) and Fulton Hogan (July and August). Some helped in the nursery to load plants onto trailers. These were delivered to the top of the Slip Gully site and carried down the slope by fit, strong people. Under the direction of the TOSSI nursery team and some committee members, others distributed PB3s and T28s to where they’d be planted in the ground on the Sunday.

When Sunday rolls around, it’s a team effort between the two TOSSI committee hosts for the day and at least a couple of Auckland Council rangers to coordinate the site marquee, porta-loos, the Park’s planting day trailer, parking protocols, food marquee, spades, and more, all before the 9am start. Covid-19 contact tracing requirements have necessitated a more streamlined sign-in process, including pre-registration via the website.

Some larger groups provided their own attendee paperwork, while others on the day waited patiently in line to fill in their name and phone number. Committee member Jackie had the awesome idea of using this wait time to give the sharp tools, steep slippery site, Health and Safety spiel.

Walking through the Sterigene (a disinfectant to reduce the risk of spreading kauri dieback) mats to collect gloves and a spade, everyone is then reminded how to correctly plant a tree by Roger. Only then are they let loose on the hill!

Helper numbers are relayed to Mel and her catering team at the Woolshed to ensure there are enough sausages, hash browns and coleslaw to feed the hungry masses at lunchtime.

Around mid-morning Kim delivers water and bananas to anyone who needs a drink and a bite, and a breather! Kids collect the plastic PB3s into sacks for recycling. Empty T28s are stacked for return to the nursery. When all the plants are planted, everyone heads back down to their cars.

Spades and gloves are collected and while the public head off for lunch, rangers and TOSSI members/committee dismantle the site marquee and load up trailers.

Back at the Woolshed the famous TOSSI barbecue lunch doesn’t disappoint. Thank-yous are extended to all. As the public depart, more than 100 dirty spades are taken to be water-blasted and stacked away for next time. All gloves are taken home to be soaked and washed too.

After four years of hard yakka, Slip Gully is done. But there’s more to do next year behind Swede paddock…

Karyn Hoksbergen

Categories: Public Planting