2000 native plants a good start to oasis

17:00, Jul 19 2010
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HELPING HANDS: About 60 people helped to plant 2000 native plants on the sanctuary’s first open day.

An oasis in the middle of Onerahi has plenty of support from the local community.

Nearly 200 people attended the first planting and open day held recently at Dragonfly Springs Wetland Sanctuary in Raumati Cres.

The 5.6 hectares of flood-prone land was bought by local residents Jeremy and Pam Busck and is being transformed into a stormwater cleansing sanctuary.

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PLANTING PLEASURE: Wetland owner Jeremy Busck and grandson Troy Hebner are ready to roll at the planting day.

The aim is for the land to eventually be kept by an Onerahi community trust.

Mr Busck says nearly 200 people attended the open day – including grandparents and even great-grandparents.

The land was once proposed as a residential development and many people who were against the proposal were interested to see what had become of the site, he says.

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"It's great opening it up and having people coming down here seeing what we're doing, with their jaws dropping to the ground because they can't believe this little oasis in the middle of a suburban environment," he says.

People also offered information about the history of the land, which used to be a peach orchard and a dairy farm.

Mr Busck says most did the 20-minute walk around the sanctuary and about 60 people brought spades to help with the planting.

About 2000 native plants grown in the Busck's nursery were planted on the day.

Doug the Digger also proved a popular attraction, teaching kids how to use a digger.

Mr Busck says the only unfortunate thing about the sanctuary is its attraction to pukeko, which destroy the plants by pulling them up and eating their roots.

"Everyone thinks pukeko are cute but we put them in the same class as vandals."

The best way to combat pukeko is to plant the seedlings deep and stomp around the trunk when buried, making it hard for the birds to uproot them, he says.

Mr Busck says people have volunteered to help with planting and planting days will be held about once a month. The Busck's nursery has produced about 12,000 native plants.

Whangarei Leader