A Stillwater resident was seeking help to establish a community group to start growing native plants when a serendipitous conversation with a Gecko facilitator led to a mentoring partnership with Gecko.
The Stillwater Reserve Restoration Group was established in anticipation of the gifting of 6.7 ha of reserve land along the Okura walkway, next to the proud new Stillwater Community Hall. The highly accessible reserve land’s significance was not lost on certain farsighted committee members of the Stillwater Residents and Ratepayers’ Association (SRRA), who could see that that the beauty, archeological features and ecological integrity of the area could and should be protected and enhanced by weed control and native planting. Establishing a community nursery with a two year lead-in would mean that native plants could be ready for planting when the land is ceded in 2018.
Gecko’s mandate – to assist and guide groups to realise their own goals to enhance the environment – was a good fit with this group and partnership with Gecko has been important to assist with strategic planning for the project’s long-term goals.
Since March 2016 a Gecko facilitator has been providing strategic and technical advice, attending meetings, holding nursery workshops (on topics such as seed collecting and sowing, cuttings and pricking out seedlings) and building relationships with locals. The development of a weed strategy and native plant identification on the new reserve land has begun. Seedlings are currently being grown in a temporary nursery area housed on a member’s private land. Supported by a grant from the SRRA, plans for a more permanent structure have been drawn up under the guidance of Gecko’s facilitator.
In winter 2016 planting events organised by locals working on existing coastal reserve land near the new area were supported with native trees supplied through Gecko’s collaboration with Trees That Count.
A proposal is also in progress for a pay-it-forward community weeding group to work on private properties and road frontages in 2017. Significantly reducing invasive weed seed sources and raising awareness about protecting local treasures is their goal. The SSRG is hoping to engage motivated and environmentally-minded local youth as leaders. Some members of the community have already started clearing invasive weeds along the main road into Stillwater sending a clear message to the whole community.
“The helpful and important attributes which our facilitator from Gecko offered to us as volunteers have been enthusiasm and passion, within a framework of gentle encouragement. Her experience and knowledge has given us confidence to believe it can be done…We are all grateful for the assistance, support and confidence building we have received.”
Mary Gallagher, Stillwater Reserve Restoration Group
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re keen to get involved.
With support from Auckland Council and Trees that Count