Iwi farm's native planting 'intergenerational'

Jun 13, 2023

Ngāi Tahu Farming is restoring pockets of native habitats at its Te Whenua Hou farm north-west of Ōtautahi (Christchurch).

The company has planted more than 210,000 native trees and shrubs common to Ka Pākiwhakatekateka a Waitaha (the Canterbury Plains) since 2015 to enhance native plant and animal communities.

Dedicated dryland reserves have been set aside for the planting, as well as between paddocks, in paddock corners, and areas under centre-pivots.

Ngāi Tahu Farming Environmental Manager Monique Dalton says her team has learnt a lot about planting over the past eight years and the amount of care and maintenance needed for native trees and shrubs common to flourish.

This includes adapting to challenges such as lack of rainfall, hard winter frosts, poor soil types, stock management and weed control.

“We are up to 90 percent success rate which is pretty exciting. We’ve had a lot lower in the past and we’ve found it’s not as simple as putting a tree in the ground and letting it grow. We need to make sure they are well looked after through the early years of growth,” Monique Dalton says.

As well as native vegetation gains, the vision for the Te Whenua Hou development is that the areas of native bush will restore a native manu (bird) corridor from the mountains to the sea.

It is hoped populations of tūī, korimako, kereru and riroriro will return to the takiwā and be seen flying between Kā Tiritiri-o-te-Moana (the Southern Alps) and Horomaka (Banks Peninsula).

Annual biodiversity monitoring is showing positive results with invertebrate and bird numbers increasing.

“It inspires me that encouraging results are beginning to show but you can’t beat experiencing the positive impact first-hand. I watch trees grow from seedlings and hear more birdsong and see more manu every time I step into the native pockets. It feels good to be doing something that has intergenerational impact,” Monique Dalton says.

She says Ngai Tahu Farming is motivated to find initiatives to lessen its impact on the land and water, which has resulted in significant investment in environmental initiatives. Investing in planting and establishing native bush reserves upholds the values of mana whenua and Ngāi Tahu Farming’s role as kaitiaki (custodian) of their environment.