For the last three years I have been involved with the Tāwharanui Open Sanctuary (TOSSI). After hearing about the nursery group, I thought it would be great to learn about the propagation and raising of trees. What I didn’t know was that I would become part of a great team of volunteers who work in partnership with Auckland Council in maintaining the valuable regional asset that is Tāwharanui Open Sanctuary.
During the winter months, there is a focus on getting the 18,000 plants we have raised during the year planted. This year is special because it marks 200,000 plants produced in the on-site nursery. On the first Sunday in June, we had a record 180 volunteers assist in getting more than 5100 plants in the ground. In July there was a smaller turnout, but we still achieved the target of 5000 plants.
I am constantly amazed at the people who come to plant. For many it’s a first time. Why? Mostly because they want to give something back. Maybe they stayed at the campground as kids, or regularly as adults. Or maybe they have enjoyed the stunning beach and surf at Anchor Bay. Some just saw a notice and liked the idea. For many it’s a return yet again: some have been coming to help every year over the last decade or so.
Whatever the reason, they are there to help and spend a fun day in the outdoors with like-minded people. Parents with children, grandparents with their teenage grandsons, overseas visitors, out-of-towners, clubs and locals. Rain, hail or shine, we welcome them all.
Public planting days are just the tip of the iceberg. The park is visited by a constant stream of volunteers. Some help out for a few hours and others return weekly. They are all appreciated and are all needed. Volunteers might be checking and maintaining trap lines to keep unwanted animal pests under control, or they may be joining others in a work party to maintain tracks or enhance the park. The most recent example is the replacement of the information hut steps. These now double as seating for school groups as they learn about the plants and animals of the sanctuary.
Volunteers also assist with monitoring the species reintroduced to the sanctuary, including tākahe, kiwi, Duvaucel’s gecko, robins, pateke, bellbirds, saddleback and more. They monitor the predator-proof fence, assist in the nursery, help with weed control or many other interesting tasks. Volunteers give freely of their time for no reward, except that of knowing they are making a difference and helping to create something for future generations. If you’d like to be part of this great team, visit tossi.org.nz.