Gordon and Jan Anderson enjoy walking along the Pirimai pathway with their dog Meg.
Even more so in the past three years, since beautification of the area adjacent to the waterway, known as the Cross Country Drain, began. It has become a haven for birdlife, attracted by the many thousands of native trees and shrubs the community has planted since 2021.
Gordon, a Pirimai Residents Association member, was involved with the organisation’s 2020 proposal to Napier City Council. It wanted to complement the Cape to City ecological restoration project by planting trees. The association also felt it was critical to have safe, green spaces to exercise, socialise and cycle.
One way Council has supported the association is through preparing the ground for the annual planting days, supplying mulch and some of the plants, says Jason Tickner, Team Leader Parks, Reserves and Sportsgrounds. “The association has done an amazing job of leading this initiative, the benefits are clear to see.”
The changes fit Gordon’s vision of Pirimai, as a community taking ownership of the space. “It used to be so dark and damp, overgrown. I was thinking about the aesthetic value, for people and for Napier. It’s changed so much.”
The green corridor’s popularity has grown since a pathway was constructed in 2021, using funds from Napier City Council’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. Council’s Te Puawaitanga-Green Communities Together Fund also covered the cost of three seats along the Harold Holt Ave section.
Gordon is enthusiastic for further enhancements, such as information and story boards, or planting tōtara to mark King Charles III’s coronation. The campaign to plant 100,000 native trees around New Zealand officially began in April.
Other locals such as Gary Ravenwood have been responsible for many of the pretty blooms and tidy verges by the Bupa Willowbank Retirement Village. There are also plans to plant citrus trees at certain spots on the pathway, for everyone to share.
The association’s next planting day starts at 9.30am, Saturday 2 September. There are over 3000 trees to be planted, starting at the corner of Ulyatt Road and Bill Hercock Street.
Plants already flourishing include several species of harakeke (flaxes), tī kōuka (cabbage trees), akeake (hopbush), karamu (coprosma), ngutukākā (kākābeak), manuka, kanuka and kowhai.
Association chairman Richard Catley is grateful for the support from so many individuals, businesses and organisations. The collaborative effort has made such a difference, he says. “This area used to look so boring. This has been a really cool community thing. People just want to see trees in the ground.”
Among the supporters have been Bupa, which has given 3,300 plants over three years, and Rocket Scaffolding, which built a temporary bridge across the waterway for the last planting day, for free.
Association members have noticed some native plants and trees being planted outside the official gatherings. “Honestly, we encourage it. If people have a spare native plant, we want them to know they are welcome to come and plant it here.”
To find out more, go to: https://www.facebook.com/pirimaicommunity
30 August 2023
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