Travellers busting weeds in Kaikoura
Overseas visitors as well as locals are playing their part to clear weeds and make way for natives in Kaikoura.
Trees for Travellers is the Kaikoura group which coordinates the activities of enthusiastic local and overseas weedbusters who help remove weeds, and plant local natives on the Kaikoura Peninsula and nearby pathways.
Many the volunteers are from a group of different students who come each year from the United States as part of a religious and community-based study programme.
Volunteer coordinator Lorraine Diver said that the difference to the landscape and environment has been huge as a result of the work.
“On the Kaikoura Peninsula we plant along the walkway area and work in partnership with the Department of Conservation and volunteers to maintain around the planting sites.
“We do manual weed releasing work on all the trees we have planted rather than spraying.”
On nearby tracks the weedbusting is carried out by a group of local retired gentlemen.
“They took pity on me working away one day and came and cut away a huge amount of gorse to enable me to plant native trees.
“One track was once completely covered in gorse but is now only half covered and flourishing with lots of native trees that we planted.
“Most of the volunteers are keen to improve the environment by weeding and releasing areas, some just want to be physically active in their retirement years.”
Lorraine said volunteer numbers vary each year but locally there are up to six regular helpers and internationally groups up to 20 help out.
In November 2018 the group held a long awaited and essential revitalisation workday following the disruptions of the Kaikaura earthquake.
“The initial effect on Trees for Travellers was huge as we could not undertake much work due to land issues like slips and uncertainty around the stability of the planting areas. As well, everyone had their own personal issues to deal with.
“We called it a mental health break and gave it the theme of ‘heal the people, heal the earth’.”
“In terms of highlights for those involved, I think the knowledge of the planting sites and why we do what we do, in working to make a difference albeit on a small scale, meeting new people and actually planting a tree, as many of our volunteers have never planted a tree before.
Where time allows, the group tries to connect with the school holiday programme, and host local child and youth-based groups like girl guides.
“It’s a great way to teach them about our environment and have them plant trees to beautify the areas.
“The best part of the work is meeting so many wonderful people who come into our community to give back by offering to help,” Lorraine said.