Volunteers get their hands dirty for Earth Day

Department of Conservation —  03/05/2016

By Ashley Hellman, Community Ranger in Dargaville

It was a privilege to meet a group of hardworking volunteers recently who were willing to give up their time to help look after our native plants here in Northland.

Earth Day volunteers at Trounson Park Kauri Park.

Some of the Earth Day volunteers at Trounson Park Kauri Park

I arrived at Trounson Kauri Park on the morning of Earth Day (April 22). The park is 30 minutes north of Dargaville and one of only a few mainland islands in New Zealand. Mainland islands are established to protect and restore habitats on the mainland of New Zealand through intensive management of our native species.

The volunteers soon arrived ready to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty in honour of Earth Day. Biodiversity Ranger Megan Topia led us to the DOC plant nursery, which was in need of some care and attention.

Volunteers cleaning up the Trounson Park Kauri Park nursery.

Mucking in for conservation

The nursery is an important site where DOC grows local plants, including our iconic kauri trees. Kauri trees live long lives. Tane Mahuta, the most famous kauri tree in New Zealand, is approximately 2000 years old. Kauri trees are threatened by a disease called kauri dieback which kills the trees and is devastating New Zealand’s forests. The nursery helps to preserve these beautiful New Zealand wonders.

Before entering and after exiting the nursery, we had to spray our shoes with a chemical to kill kauri dieback, since the disease is commonly transported on the bottoms of people’s shoes.

The group spent the morning shovelling, raking, and weeding. Before and after photographs of the nursery demonstrate the impressive amount of work that the volunteers put in on the day.

“It was nice to do something voluntary, especially with my kids, and know that we were doing something good for the community,” said Kim Hill, one of the participants.

Another participant, Aaron Bradley, said, “Conservation is important to me. Going up to Trounson for the day was great, and my boys loved it.”

As a treat in the afternoon, we all got to meet an adult kiwi. Biodiversity Ranger James McLaughlin talked to the group about how the birds live, what threatens them, and the importance of kiwi conservation.

James McLaughlin holding a kiwi.

Ranger James McLaughlin talking about kiwi conservation

“I’m very pleased with the turnout for our Earth Day celebration,” said Megan Topia after the event.

“I hope we can continue to grow our volunteer program and get as many community members involved in conservation as possible.”


More information about volunteering for DOC can be found on our website.