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Celebrating new beginnings for Matariki

This page contains a column written by Mayor Sheryl Mai about planting trees to celebrate Matariki 2020 - and how you can participate too.
Updated: 6/07/2020 12:00 a.m.
Picture of Mayor Sheryl Mai.
​Mayor Sheryl Mai

​The star cluster Matariki (Pleiades) rises again on 13 July and we will once more see the light of the nine stars that make up this remarkable cluster.

I love how well known Matariki has become over the past decade, celebrated as an important marker of the beginning of the Māori New Year.

I celebrated the beginning of Matariki season by taking part in the first of three community planting events, held on the last Saturday of June at Parihaka. I lost count of how many native trees and shrubs we planted, but the number would have been significant considering how many volunteers and community groups mucked in on the day.

It was a heart-warming sight, and reminded me once more of what a special place Whangarei District is. The next two planting events will be happening on Saturday 11 and Saturday 25 July, I encourage you to take part if you can.  It’s a wonderful experience where you’re guaranteed to meet friendly, community-minded people.

Picture of Mayor Sheryl Mai holding a plant and shaking hands with another volunteer for the first Matariki Planting Day.
Picture from the Matariki Planting Day on June 27, 2020.

In the spirit of Matariki and new beginnings, today is also the day we kick off the Pohutukawa Coast Programme for 2020. Over the past 29 years, we have given away nearly 70,000 native trees.

I have a personal affinity with this project, being involved in my role as Horticulture Supervisor at Whangarei District Council during the 1990’s. What started as an effort to re-establish coastal Pohutukawa, has become a conscious movement towards championing our native trees and wildlife, and today our District is all the richer because of it.

From today, each ratepayer in our District can collect 2 native trees from one of the suppliers below:

  • City dwellers and people living in the north of the district can drop in to Botanica in First Avenue between 10am and 4pm, 7 days
  • Tutukaka Coast residents collect trees from Tawapou Coastal Natives Nursery, phone 09 434 3971
  • Southern residents may pick up trees from Robbie Jones, phone 09 432 7329
  • People living to the north-east and in Whangarei Heads can pick them up from Alan Willis and Rona Mahy-Willis, phone 09 436 2808

Ask these experts for advise on the best plants to take for planting. Consider your soil type and property situation before choosing your tree, as not all native trees enjoy high winds, wet feet, or coastal salty breezes. You might also want to consider whether your chosen trees need full sun or partial shade, and think of the future height of any tree you’re planting – are there power lines nearby, or is there a view that could be affected?

Be kind to your new native trees and give them a home that will suit them now and into the future, and celebrate Matariki through planting and regenerating our native taonga.

If you have any questions about the Pohutukawa Coast Programme, call our friendly Contact Centre team on 09 430 4200



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