Rare native plants might recover

SUE FEA
Last updated 09:18 18/07/2013
Neill Simpson and Peter Willsman
SUE FEA/Fairfax NZ
Renowned Wakatipu ecologist Neill Simpson, right, and Wakatipu Wilding Conifers Group chairman Peter Willsman get ready for some native potting.

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Wakatipu residents are being asked to get behind a new Community Native Plant Nursery being launched at Kelvin Heights to save threatened and rare native plant species in the district.

The project is being developed on a 0.2ha site set aside by the Queenstown Lakes District Council, near the entrance to Jardine Park.

It will be officially launched on July 26 with help from National's Bluegreens MP Maggie Barrie and Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden.

Ms Barrie will visit the nursery site, before speaking at a fundraising afternoon tea for the project at Kelvin Heights Golf Club.

Renowned Wakatipu ecologist and Wakatipu Islands Reforestation Trust trustee Neill Simpson said the aim was to restore and showcase some of the special native plants that once flourished in the area.

There were species on Pigeon Island that would have once grown around the rest of the district, such as kahikatea and matai, which the trust was keen to see restored.

Volunteers were being encouraged to come to the nursery and pot plants to be raised and planted around the district.

"People can also come in and sow a seed for their own garden, see it grow, come and weed it, then in six months they can plant it somewhere as a family," Mr Simpson said.

The Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Group is lending its support to the programme and chairman Peter Willsman said the newly-raised native species would replace sprayed and felled conifer hedge rows around the district.

Money would be raised through the reforestation trust and Mr Simpson estimated it could cost about $10,000 to set up the programme in the first year. Plants would be bought and he hoped volunteers could get planting this spring when public planting days would be held.

A dozen people had already volunteered and the public was being asked to donate plastic pots that could be dropped off at 181 Peninsula Rd.

That evening Clutha Southland MP Bill English and Ms Barrie will hold a gathering for young voters at the Queenstown Resort College. Wakatipu National Party branch chairman Lindsay McClean said it was a chance to meet both MPs and ask questions. There will be a $10 cover charge.

FAST FACTS
What:
Wakatipu Community Native Plant Nursery Fundraiser Afternoon Tea with Maggie Barrie
Where: Kelvin Heights Golf Club
When: July 26, 2pm
Tickets: $25 available from Locations Realty

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