Thursday, 14 November 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Kauri 2000 celebrates 20th anniversary

Kauri 2000 celebrated their 20th anniversary with a screening of the documentary, “Mauri o te Kauri,” to an invited group of friends and supporters at Mercury Twin Cinemas in Whitianga last Sunday afternoon.

The screening was followed by drinks and nibbles at The Lost Spring, and the cutting of a birthday cake.

Sunday was the first time Mauri o te Kauri was screened in Mercury Bay. The film - directed by Kuaotunu-based filmmaker, James Muir - has already shown overseas at a film festival in Mexico and has was accepted into an upcoming film festival in Ithaca, New York.

The film explores the legend of the kauri tree, its role in the ecosystem and the potential impact of the kauri dieback disease on the Coromandel Peninsula. Many of the audience members admitted to getting tears in their eyes when breath-taking aerial footage of the Manaia Kauri Sanctuary - home to more than 400 mature kauri, including one of the largest kauri trees in New Zealand – was shown.

The Kauri 2000 Trust was the brainchild of Cliff Heraud, a former Kuaotunu resident who passed away in 2015. His vision was to plant 2,000 kauri to celebrate the arrival of the year 2,000. The first 20 trees were planted in August 1999 in the Kauaeranga Valley. Since then, the trust has planted more than 53,000 kauri at more than 45 sites around the Coromandel Peninsula.

“The support we received from the public was astonishing in those early days,” Vivienne McLean, a founding trustee of Kauri 2000, told those who attended the celebration. “It meant that we simply couldn’t stop. I certainly didn’t think at that time that we would still be going 20 years later.”

Planting kauri isn’t an easy job. There’s much more to it than volunteers putting trees into the ground for half a day at a time. Three-year-old seedlings must be sourced, planting sites need to be identified and prepared and, after the planting has concluded, the sites have to be monitored and weeds cleared until the trees are self-sustaining. Some sites require monitoring for up to 10 years.

The three biggest Kauri 2000 planting sites can be found at Chelmsford on the Kopu-Hikuai Road, Kauri Hill outside Coromandel Town and the Matarangi Reserve between Kuaotunu and Matarangi. “We planted more than 17,000 trees at the Matarangi Reserve, that means it’s the biggest kauri forest created by man in New Zealand and, by implication, in the known universe,” Vivienne said to much laughter.

One of the hallmarks of the Kauri 2000 planting days is a sausage sizzle afterwards. “If our volunteers planted 15 trees at a time, then 53,000 trees equate to 3,500 volunteers, which in turn equates to 7,000 sausages over 20 years,” Vivienne said to even more laughter.

Alison Henry, the current Kauri 2000 chair, said the public’s support for the work of the trust is continuing unabated. “I want to thank all our supporters, but specifically BNZ for their generosity,” she said. “They’re our biggest sponsor and contribute to our cause through the sale of Kauri Bonds on the world’s financial markets.”

Talking about the future, Alison said that kauri dieback is forcing Kauri 2000 to think differently about the trust’s operations going forward. “We certainly want to continue planting trees on the Coromandel, but the carefree way we’ve done things in those early days are well and truly over,” she said.

Alison also said that Kauri 2000 will next year undertake an audit of all the trust’s planting sites to get an overview of how the kauri trees that were planted during the past 20 years are doing.

Pictured: Those who cut the birthday cake during the Kauri 2000 Trust’s 20th anniversary celebration at The Lost Spring in Whitianga last Sunday. From the left - Philip Shewell (recently appointed trust coordinator), Keith Stephenson (Kauri 2000 Coromandel Town coordinator), Maurice Kirby (trustee), Jill Kaepelli (trustee), Vivienne McLean (trustee), Alison Henry (Kauri 2000 chair) and Dave Fitzgerald (trustee).

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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.