A two-hectare wetland’s thirst is being quenched thanks to its owners, in Brookby, south of Auckland. However, large-scale projects like these are not accomplished by just a few hands, but entire communities.
Once a dry patch of over-farmed land, the Brookby Wildlife Habitat is starting to look more like a proper wetland – the way its owners intended it to be.
With the recent efforts of children from neighbouring Brookby Primary School planting hundreds of trees, the fragile wetlands are a step closer to returning it to its natural state.
Sunny skies lit up half a day’s work as a group of 23 schoolchildren from Years six to eight enthusiastically dug their hands in the dirt to plant wee seedlings that will later grow into hardy revegetation plants such as manuka, kanuka, flax, cabbage trees, and mahoe.
These plants will surround a large pond in the gully which will see its first summer this year, after earthwork done by digger driver, Mark Kimpton.
Co-owner and experienced landscaper, Nicky Auld, says the work on the two-hectare gully is the first phase of a four-stage plan that has the ultimate goal of connecting surrounding wetlands to the Papakura Stream, encouraging bio-diversity and the growth of native trees.
While it was Nicky and her husband, Mark, who initiated this process, it could not have been possible without several entities.
They are grateful for funding from the New Zealand Game Bird Trust, a nationwide trust that receives a portion of the $88 gun licensing fee which goes towards the sustainment of wildlife habitats.
The trust also raises funds through $2 stamps featuring game birds, and wholly support grants for projects such as Nicky’s after a stringent approval process.
Northern game bird manager, John Dyer, was key in this process and was responsible for making sure the Aulds’ plan was well-thought out and viable.
He says, through his visits to the land, he saw consistency with the Aulds’ work and their plan.
“They’re not just spending money but physically doing the hard work themselves and we love a Kiwi battler!”
Mark, a duck shooter himself, was emotionally attached to the project, John says.
“We can see from the amount of care on the property that he really went out of his way to ensure a good job was done.
“The only problem I have with the Aulds’ project is that we really need to clone the Auld family and make 100 more of them all over the country to make significant impact to wildlife and our streams!”
John says the project also leaves a legacy for the young.
“They’re inspiring people through their work and by involving the kids; they are sowing the seeds in future landowners.”
Another key organisation, Trees for Survival, is a charitable trust the Aulds have worked with for four years, which sources trees and manpower to plant them and receives support from the Auckland Council to help run these projects.
Designed to help children learn about trees by planting them in areas at risk around the North Island, the trust also promotes community partnerships with landowners, conservation clubs, rotaries and councils – and the response has been overwhelming, Nicky says.