By DOC’s Des Williams, based in Hamilton
What used to be a relatively uninspiring walk from Te Pahu’s Limeworks Loop Road to the Kaniwhaniwha campsite in Pirongia Forest Park is being transformed into a tunnel of green.
Thanks to the efforts of the Te Pahu Landcare Group over the past 12 years, many thousands of native trees are flourishing and the track is now suitable for family groups, casual strollers, pushchair pushers and mountain bikers, as well as the more serious trampers.
It has always been DOC Ranger Bruce Postill’s dream to see the area planted up with native trees around the Kaniwhaniwha Stream and local residents regard it as part of their mission to make that come true.
At the beginning of the project the track was nothing more than a walk through grazed pasture, with the adjoining farmer’s stock having free access to the stream banks and waterway. DOC’s Waikato Area staff members Bruce Postill and Dave Matthews started on a plan to change this little part of their world.
They went to the local council with their plans and the council agreed to turn it into recreation reserve and let DOC take control of it as an access-way to the park boundary.
The next task was to fence the boundary. For the first two or three years Bruce and Dave were making progress at the rate of about 100 metres a year. A hundred metres fenced, a hundred metres planted. Then Bruce looked at Dave: “Mate, we are not going to get this done in our lifetime at the rate we are going.”
Then the project got a kick-start, with the Lotteries Commission provided funding and with the Te Pahu Landcare Group keen to get involved.
Though present membership comprises less than a dozen people, they have all taken this project to heart and are starting to see results with some of their initial plantings now several metres high in places.
So, year by year, the walk through pasture land is becoming a walk through an avenue of trees, with each flourishing native carrying the pride of the local community that has helped put it there.