Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Return To Limestone Island

Today I volunteered to go with a group to help the 'Friends of Limestone Island - Matakohe Trust' to plant out native trees on the island. It was a great day, hard work but very satisfying.
The island has an interesting history. It was first a Maori Pa site. Later it was a quarry and cement works. Today the extensive remains of the terraced gardens are protected and the ruins of the cement works remain.
We met at the Onerahi Jetty and waited for the Islands full time conservation development officer to pick us up in the barge.
The 'Petrel' takes us across the short length of water to the island. The fishing rods belong to an old stalwart volunteer planter who plants his allotted trees and then goes fishing. Today he caught a Kawhai.
Bringing ashore some of the native trees for planting. There were 12 volunteers today.
The barge has a set of fold down steps in the bow which makes for easy access.
This is the main beach. The caretaker and his wife live permanently on the island. The green belt of trees in the distance close to the shoreline is where I helped plant over twenty years ago.
These are the ruins of the caretakers house from a bygone era when the island had a cement works and a quarry.
The truck and trailer being loaded up with plants to be taken to the other end of the island.
My dear friend Gerry, a self confessed Conservationist Zealot. His hard work and practical ideas have seen the reestablishment of much native flora and fauna to the island. Today he railed against imported species to New Zealand, especially Pine Trees (Pinus Radiata), At the end of his lengthy dissertation I told him I would buy him a box of pine cones for his birthday - this nearly made him fall over laughing. Zealots with a sense of humour are no danger.
Brad Pitt gives up a days filming to do some planting of New Zealand native trees.
All you need to plant well is a small specialised spade for digging the hole and a pair of good strong boots. These plants are cabbage tree seedlings - the cabbage tree is an iconic Northland New Zealand tree.
From the top of the island you can see our place of embarkation from the Onerahi jetty in the top of the picture and the barge by the beach.
This is where we did the planting on the south side of the island. The tall trees with the spiky leaves are New Zealand Cabbage trees.
Lunchtime in the buffalo grass. I taught Ann's (on the left) son Phillip over twenty five years ago and last year taught his son Oscar - I guess I could have stayed teaching and taught the grandchildren ?
Margaret (on the right) nearly lost her hat on the way over on the barge. She vowed that if it had gone into the water she would have jumped in to get it. It was her very special hat that she bought in Arles, France last year. I can identify with that, there are some things worth attempting to walk on water for.
We all took turns falling backwards onto the buffalo grass. Brad of course overdid it, falling a number of times until everyone told him to stop showing off and sit down and eat his bloody lunch like everyone else - you can't take some people anywhere.
The view East from the island. Whangarei Harbour stretches away into the distance.

It was a very successful planting. The day started at 8.45am and was over around about 2.00pm, not too long but with concentrated hard work we managed to plant over 400 trees.
This is only my second volunteer planting. The first was over twenty years ago and it was interesting to see how well those trees had grown.
What a great day. It was so nice to be out with nice people in the sunshine, fresh air and wide open spaces - and the panoramic views from the top of the island were stunning. They are asking for volunteers for next Wednesday - maybe I will go, its a small thing to do - planting a few trees - but lots of people each doing a small job of planting adds up to a big thing together when it comes to repairing and preserving our environment- and as in most endeavours that you care about, action speaks louder than words.



Dan Gurney said...

Looks like a fun day.

Brad Pitt has never looked so handsome.

Alden Smith said...

You are right about Brad, but he's a hell of a show off :-)

Delwyn said...

Good on you Mr Smith

I must say that cheeky little mo improves Brad Pitt visage no end...
what a rugged outdoorsy fellow he is...pity about his propensity to fall over...

ah well can't have good looks and good balance - must be the effect of the tinnitus...

Happy days

Alden Smith said...

Delwyn, I don't really know why I use Brad Pitt as my alter ego. Informed people would say its a form of wish fulfillment, but the truth is he uses me as his alter ego, so, as far as I am concerned its quid pro quo - or maybe I am in deep need of therapy? and yes that's a rhetorical question.

Katherine said...

I think Brad *is* your therapy. You don't need any. :o)

Alden Smith said...

Katherine, you are right. :-)