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An ambitious plan to aid the restoration of the cloak of native forest covering Christchurch’s Port Hills was announced today by MP Nuk Korako.

Since April, Mr Korako, a National List MP based in the Port Hills, has been leading the establishment of Te Tapuwae o Rakau Trust (The Tree Footprints Trust) to develop and implement a structured approach to replanting trees on the Port Hills, repairing damage left by Canterbury’s earthquakes and the recent Port Hills fires.

The trust was officially launched today, on the first day of spring, and to mark the occasion a tōtara tree was planted at the Christchurch Adventure Park.

“While devastating, the fires have presented us with a unique opportunity to re-weave Papatuanuku’s (Mother Earth’s) natural korowai (cloak) across Nga Kohatu Whakarekareka o Tamatea Pokai Whenua (Port Hills),” Mr Korako says.

“To date there seems to be no overall coordinated cultural or ecological plan to replant the Port Hills. I believe it is imperative that there is a more structured approach.”

Te Tapuwae o Rakau Trust will assist in the coordination of the many already established organisations who are dedicated to the return of natural flora and fauna to the Port Hills.

The trust will work with private landowners, Ngāi Tahu, central and local government, community groups and individuals to carry out a planned cultural and ecological reforestation programs. Its aim will be to not only coordinate restoration of areas devastated by fire and earthquake but, ultimately, to go further by planting new areas.

“The Port Hills environment has been significantly altered during the 180 years since early colonisation within Lyttelton Harbour and Christchurch and very few substantial areas of native flora remain,” Mr Korako says.

“Earthquakes and fire have left areas of dangerous rock exposure and swathes of blackened and bare land.

“This needs to be restored for the health of the land, to prevent erosion and soil run-off into our streams and harbours, and to prevent an explosion of introduced weeds across these cleared areas which could become a new fire hazard.

“This presents us with a remarkable opportunity to reinstate the natural native flora environment of the Port Hills, and with it, the return of native birds, insects and reptiles.”

“A working group, set up by Mr Korako, has completed the legal establishment of the trust and is in the process of registering the trust as a registered charity through pro bono work by Duncan Cotterill Lawyers.”

At the first formal meeting, the working group elected Phillip Duval as their chairman. The other trustees are: Yvette Couch-Lewis, Alan Skinner, John Abrahamson, and John Wylie.

“These experienced trustees bring a commercial, fundraising, Ngāi Tahu culture, legal and relationship development expertise to the organisation,” Mr Korako says.

Five potential operational programs have already been identified:

  1. The development of Ngāi Tahu cultural and ecological plans specific to identified areas on private and public land holdings
  2. Predator and weed protection programs to safeguard the young trees and plants
  3. Native plant supply programs to produce resilient stock that will survive the diverse climatic, landscape and soil conditions of the Port Hills
  4. Ongoing maintenance programs to support the reforestation of flora in the early stages of their growth

“The trust has identified a number of funding organisations that could support our initiative, including the Rata Trust, Southern Trust, Tindall Foundation, Christchurch City Council and Ngāi Tahu,” Mr Korako says.

“The trust estimates some ten million trees will be needed.”

The Christchurch Adventure Park Board has been supportive of the trust initiative and hosted the official launch of the Te Tapuwae o Rakau Trust at the park on the first day of spring, Friday, September 1, 2017.

 

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PHOTO CAPTION: To mark the launch, Nuk Korako, Lisa Tumahai (Kaiwhakahaere (Chairperson) of Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu) Phillip Duval, Hon Nicky Wagner (Minister supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration) planted a tōtara tree.

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