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In the response to the devastation to the landscape caused by Cyclone Bola, the Genesis Reforestation Project was set up in 1989 with a nursery operation providing a stock of native plants and trees for community restoration and habitat protection projects.
The goals were to promote sustainable land use and repair of the environment; facilitate environmental education programmes and community involvement; provide employment opportunities in environmental restoration – all with the aim of addressing wetland and riparian degradation, habitat protection and native bush deterioration.
Separately the Hawkes Bay Regional Council established a Shadehouse in Schools programme in rural schools for the specific purpose of teaching children about restoration planting and to encourage famers to consider riparian and restoration planting. The HRBC approached Genesis Reforestation Project to take over the project and provide education through practical workshops.
Genesis Restoration Project has been involved with this project for nearly 10 years, providing shade house materials and consumables like root trainers, planting bags, potting mix and labels; also a coordinator who visits the schools regularly to conduct workshops as well as ongoing support for the school, coordinator and restoration project.
Up until recently this project has been working in 25 schools and two marae ranging from Mahia in the north to the south of central Hawkes Bay. In 2012 the Genesis Restoration Project received a grant from the Ministry for the Environment ‘s Community Environment Fund to partially support their programme, there has also been some ongoing funding assistance from the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.
The projects are:
Pekapeka Wetlands with Schools – Pukehou , Otane, Argyll East, Poukawa, Te Aute, Pakipaki, Hastings Central and St Matthews
Te Karamu Enhancement with Schools – Mangateretere, Parkvale, Lucknow, Hastings Intermediate, Havelock North Intermediate and Waipatu Marae.
Central Hawkes Bay restoration with Schools – Mangaorapa, Omakere, Porangahau and Elsthorpe
Opoutama Wetlands with Schools – Te Mahia and Nuhaka
Tutira Lake with Tutira School
A’Deans Bush with Sherwood School
Individual projects with Schools – Te Kura Wairoa, Patoka, Waipatu and Te Aranga Marae
During September Dianne Paterson, TfS Auckland South Field Officer, caught up with Marion Thomson, a trustee and Board member of the Genesis Restoration Trust, to learn at first-hand about their activities.
Dianne reports, “With Marion I visited a school that is involved in the Shadehouse in Schools project. At Lucknow Primary School, Havelock North, we spoke to Audrey Birrell the Enviro teacher and Ron McGrannachan the Caretaker.
“It was good to see their shadehouse set up, and the work done raising trays of seedlings from seed the children collected, and the potting on of seedlings that had been raised in the shadehouse. For their annual planting day Audrey said they had planted 250 seedlings that the children had raised themselves, as part of the Te Karamu Walkway project alongside the stream that drains from Hastings out to sea.
“I also went to see the recent plantings on the Te Karamu Stream Walkway – a stream revegetation project near Havelock North village. It is off to a healthy start and will be a great asset to the community at large – it has a very public profile and so is easily available to children to revisit ‘their’ trees!”
Dianne was impressed by the enthusiasm for the project and the commitment to addressing wide-ranging local environmental issues.
Marion says, “Genesis Reforestation Project is in discussion with Trees for Survival to come under the national umbrella of a larger and more robust organisation in the hope it will be able to sustain this excellent project into the future”.
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