News | 6 September 2021

Community heroes in conservation: Valissa Williamson

Pōneke recently celebrated the planting of its two millionth native plant, following a 20-year programme involving Wellington City Council staff and thousands of community volunteers.

Conservation Week/Te Wiki Tiaki Ao Tūroa is happening 4–12 September, so we’re highlighting some of the awesome people who have contributed to making our wonderful city greener.

Valissa Williamson.

Valissa Williamson spends her days eco-sourcing seeds and propagating thousands of native plants that go on to be planted throughout Pōneke each year.

Valissa is one of Wellington City Council’s many staff, who is passionate about enhancing the city’s native wildlife. She is part of the Parks, Sport and Recreation team, which is kaitiaki to Wellington’s parks and reserves and works to promote wellness among Wellingtonians through recreation and the outdoors.

The City Council’s only Seed Propagation Technician, Valissa thinks she has the best job in town.

“I have the most rewarding job. I get to wander the hills in our native reserves and coastlines to eco-source native seeds. My role is to propagate over a hundred different native species. We produce about 90,000 plants annually, which are planted into our local environment by our community groups and PSR teams.”

Wellington City Council works with more than 100 volunteer groups, many of which have contributed significantly to the regeneration of Pōneke’s biodiversity through planting and trapping.

Valissa Williamson.

Valissa, who is based at Berhampore Nursery, says she enjoys working with local community nursery groups by guiding them with seed collecting and other horticultural processes.

“The plants they produce go out to local schools and community groups in their area. It’s great to see all the amazing contributions they make towards improving our natural environment.”

Valissa is excited by the positive changes evident in Wellington’s landscape.

“I’m passionate about replanting and rebuilding our natural environment. I love giving back to an environment that I get so much pleasure from. I love tramping and cycling in amongst nature, so I want to be able to contribute to its sustainability.

“It’s also neat to hear and see an increase in birdlife in the Wellington area – and may that continue as we plant more natives.

“Everyone is responsible for our natural environment and everyone can contribute in small ways to make a difference.”

Ways to get involved in conservation in your community