Produced as part of Branch Out newsletter - Winter 2011
One of Wellington's newer volunteer planting groups Ngā Hau e Whā o Paparārangi is planning to plant 'by the stars' again this year.
Ngā Hau e Whā o Paparārangi, a Newlands papakainga (village) group, is organising a community planting day to mark Matariki - Māori New Year. Matariki is the Māori name for the group of stars known as the Pleiades or Seven Sisters. For iwi (tribes) Māori New Year is marked by the rise of Matariki.
On 25 June 2011, the group plans to plant native species supplied by Wellington City Council's nursery on the perimeters of the land surrounding their community whare in Ladbrooke Drive, above the old Horokiwi Landfill site.
On 22 June 2011, as part of the Matariki celebrations, Ngā Hau e Whā o Paparārangi will be teaching weaving with flax at the local Newlands Community Centre.
Ngā Hau e Whā o Paparārangi has been operating for more than 20 years, but the planting group is a more recent development, organising annual Matariki and other planting days since 2007.
"We have already planted natives in various locations on the land each wintertime - lots of totara, tikouka, manuka and harakeke - we are just building up each year," says Amanda Dobson, one of the Ngā Hau e Whā o Paparārangi committee members responsible for kaitiaki whenua (caring for the land).
The most recent plantings were by family members from Christchurch, who had sought refuge after the February earthquake at Ngā Hau e Whā o Paparārangi.
The group is keen to get the community involved and works closely with two neighbouring planting groups, the Seton Nossiter and Woodridge Planters, with members joining in on each group's planting activities.
"We usually open it up to the community to come and participate. We also put out an invitation to all the local schools because we have a relationship with them already," she says. Amanda is the local Enviroschools facilitator and runs workshops from the whare.
She says there are families where the grandparents, parents and children are all involved in supporting the kaupapa - "it's very much cross-generational". The group is also planning a long way ahead. "An open meeting is planned for 20 June 2011 at Ngā Hau e Whā o Paparārangi, to develop a 20-year strategic plan for the kaitiakitanga (guardianship) of the land."
All the planting is done around the papakainga on land that is leased from the Council. The community building is a 1912 listed heritage building - formerly the Johnsonville Town Board building that was shifted on to the site.
See the group's website for more information about the planting day:
Ngā Hau e Whā o Paparārangi website