A visit to Mangarara

On Wednesday last week, I had a very enjoyable day in Hawke’s Bay as a guest of the Air New Zealand Environmental Trust.

The Trust was set up by Air NZ, who gave it an initial donation. Passengers can also donate to the trust here, to offset the environmental impact of their flights. And yes our flights to Napier were offset!

The Trust invited several bloggers along, being very open about the fact they wanted to increase awareness of what they do.

There were three other bloggers there. Matthew and Waveney who are trying to live wastefree for an entire year. They talk about the day on their blog.

Carlin Archer from Ecobob was the other blogger, and he talks about the day here. He has the best collection of photos.

The highlight for me was Ruud Kleinpaste – the Bugman. His enthusiasm for biodiversity was infectious. He had fun showing off his katipo and his wetas.

So why was I there, amongst all these dedicated environmentalists? I certainly don’t walk the walk like they do. But I guess in someway I may be like the average Kiwi in that I do a bit – I do recycle most of the the rubbish, I use eco-friendly lightbulbs, I absolutely adore the outdoors, support the World Wildlife Fund through a monthly donation etc., and use public transport almost daily.

We spent the day at Greg and Rachel’s Mangarara Family Farm. This is the view from the House – their own private lake! Horseshoe Lake is a 30ha wildlife sanctuary on the farm.

The overall farm is 300 hectares and their aim is to restore as much of the original ecosystem as possible, so they are planing native forests and converting it to a sustainable beef and sheep station. The forests will also act as carbon sinks to help with offsetting greenhouse gas emissions. That’s a triple win with more native forest, a more sustainable farm and lower net carbon emissions for NZ.

The Air NZ Trust’s first project is a conservation programme involving more than 100 acres on Station. It will financially contribute to the purchase and planting of 85,000 trees over the next three years.

It’s am ambitious challenge, especially as there has been no rain since mid August! So they took advantage of our presence to have us help water some of the saplings, using lake water.

We rode on the back of some sturdy farm vehicles to an existing area of native forest. For several kms there are plain fields only, and suddenly this little patch of wonderful greenery. It even has a small little bach out there, making it an ideal hideaway. We nailed some bamboo tubes (known as weta motels) to some of the trees, as they help attract wetas, which form an important part of the ecosystem. I got bitten by a weta when I was seven, so I had to overcome my natural genocidal instncts towards them 🙂

I really enjoyed the day learning more about the work of the trust at Mangarara, and meeting a lovely group of people. We have one of the greenest countries on Earth, but it will only stay that way people making a commitment to it.

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