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The Ministry of Primary Industries is providing funding to help Rotary to grow their 100 Forests of Peace and Remembrance. Other groups are also involved in this scheme.

Their Deputy Director-General, Julie Collins, says that the funding means that more communities can come together and enhance the environment by planting native trees as living memorials.

‘The native trees planted through Rotary’s projects will grow to form a living legacy: a memorial that ensures generations of Kiwis never forget the achievements and sacrifices of other New Zealanders’, she says.

‘Programmes like Rotary’s 100 Forests of Peace and Remembrance living memorial and community forests are playing a key role in rebuilding community spirit as Kiwis come together once more, following lockdown. This commendable project is a great example of Rotary’s work to unite New Zealanders for the common good, says Ms Collins.

Rotary New Zealand’s Project Chair and incoming District Governor in July 2021, Mark Wheeler, says the organisation is honoured to be working with Te Uru Rākau (MPI) to help communities all over New Zealand plant native forests in perpetuity. ‘These multi-year plantings are part of Rotary’s Centennial activities and extend the work of 280 clubs in every community across New Zealand’, he says.

North of the area where Rotarians and friends are currently planting a wetland forest on a low-lying flood-prone Porirua City Council sports field, is Taupō Swamp. This is an Outstanding Wetland of regional and national significance. Mayor Anita Baker says, ‘Restoring riparian vegetation and wetlands along waterways such as Taupō Stream will help reduce the levels of sedimentation and pollution of Te Awarua-o-Porirua – Porirua Harbour.’

Locally, Plimmerton and Porirua Rotary Clubs are driving this project in conjunction with Porirua City Council to celebrate the centenary of Rotary internationally. The project is part of the nationwide ‘Rotary 100 Forests of Peace and Remembrance’ project and Rotary clubs throughout New Zealand and overseas are mobilising. You can see an example of another project in the heart of Wellington here. Watch this video to become inspired to join this project locally and make a huge difference to the future in New Zealand.

The area being planted is a crucial link between Taupō Swamp and the sea. It contains important ecosystem services in filtering nutrients and buffering floodwaters from the Taupō catchment.

Plimmerton Rotary President, Bill McAulay says, ‘The idea is to create a forest around the area surrounding the recently opened dog exercising zone on Plimmerton Domain. Over the 2020-2021 planting seasons, we plan on planting 9,000 trees and plants. Our aim is to protect this area for our grandchildren, their children and all future generations. And apart from what it will do to protect the future environment, working together on the forest is enabling many people from our local community to engage and spend time together.’

On Saturday, 10 October 2020, about fifty people, Rotarians, Councillors Euon Murrell and Ross Leggett, Council staff, Conservation Volunteers New Zealand, Friends of Taupō Swamp, families and friends, met at Plimmerton Domain and carried out a variety of tasks. Councillor Euon Murrell passed on the good wishes of the Mayor who was unfortunately unable to come.

Rotary member, Ron Lucas had brought down his augur to dig four hundred holes in advance, and early arrivals laid out wetland plants at 8.30 so that planting could begin as soon as volunteers began to arrive.

One of the Porirua City Council gardeners, Joe, said, ‘Once the wetland plants are well-established and had formed a shelter, wetland trees will be planted.’ Trees like Kahikatea, dominant in lowland forest and wetlands throughout New Zealand, can grow to a height of 55 metres. Tōtara, one of the majestic forest canopy trees, can reach up to 30 metres (although this takes over 100 years). As a matter of interest, the huge Maori waka taua, capable of carrying 100 warriors, were often hollowed out from a single Tōtara log.

And so the work will continue and Bill McAulay is planning future planting days. The plan is to extend Taupō Swamp by planting around it. This will help to protect the existing Swamp where there is incredible diversity, and lower the risk of sedimentation in Porirua Harbour.

Rotary Forest of Peace and Remembrance - 13 October 2020

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