Although there has been so much Cyclone Gabrielle devastation at Waiohiki settlement, one positive story is Te Wai Mauri native plant nursery, which is literally thriving with a large stock of healthy plants.
Nursery Team Leader Rewa Mason says there was some silt and flood damage to parts of the nursery, based behind Waiohiki Marae, but with help from whānau, and continued water deliveries from Hastings and Napier Fire Department, some 85,000 natives are ready for planting. These are grown from locally sourced seed and range from Kanuka and Ake Ake to Tītoki, Makamako, Karamū Tī kouka/Cabbage Tree, Toetoe and Kahikatea, and more.
“So many whānau have been impacted by the floods,” says Rewa. “ So we are trying to keep moving forward, looking after the nursery, seed collecting and learning more about the biodiversity of plants.”
Rewa and her team members Karen Hawaikirangi and Alice Hughes have level four horticultural qualifications from EIT. They developed the nursery while studying and are now running it along Te Ao Maori principles and incorporating tikanga practices. The team say a karakia every morning before working with the plants and a different one before collecting seeds – mainly from remnant native blocks and “secret locations”. They propagate the seeds – “their babies” – in a shaded tunnel house and aim to learn the whakapapa of each species they are collecting.
Rewa says part of the kaupapa of the nursery is to develop an educational resource and have school groups regularly visit – some have been already. “We want to teach kids why we should plant natives and take them through the basics of growing things.”
First published by Bay Buzz. Click here to read the full article.