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Nurturing nature good for young minds

Scouts group shot

Anderson Park is a special place for many Napier people, with its wide open green spaces, leafy trees, supersized playground and miniature railway.

For the Greendale Tamataea Scout Group’s past and present members, it is home to their headquarters. Now, not far from their den, is a flourishing community garden they began planting last year, with the blessing of Napier City Council, which looks after the park.

The group received a Te Puawaitanga-Green Communities Together Fund grant. This fund was one of several established by Council to support locals, after the first pandemic lockdown.

The garden’s variety of native plants is useful for anyone curious about local flora, says Jason Tickner, Team Leader Parks, Reserves and Sportsgrounds.

“The scouts and their supporters have done an amazing job. I look forward to seeing how it develops over time.”

Lance Titter, Executive Director of City Services, says he has gained immense satisfaction from working with the group. “I live near Anderson Park. From what I’ve seen, it’s been a wonderful opportunity for the scouts to share their skills and knowledge with others.”

Cub Section Leader Callum Fisher has driven the project, working alongside Cub Leader Chris Comber. Last year Callum won a community engagement/service award from Scouts Aotearoa for his efforts.

Being hands on and caring for the garden is a great way for the scouts to increase their knowledge of nature before setting out on bush activities, he says.

“Having a garden like this in the middle of the city can also raise some awareness of what’s out there. Many people don’t get the opportunity to see what we do.”

Hundreds of plants, from harakeke (flax) to mingimingi (coprosma) have been planted on top of the once bare hill over the railway tunnel. It is a work in progress, with further signage and seating planned.

A special feature is Ki Uta, Ki Tai (from the land to sea), three pou designed by renowned local artist Chris Bryant-Toi. The pou symbolise many things important to scouts here and across New Zealand.

The colour of the pou represented the pūrimu, or purple cockle. These were once abundant in the area when it was part of Te Whanganui a Ōrotu (Ahuriri estuary).

A manu (bird) head on the pou facing the ranges acknowledged all birds, including the weka, which once lived near the Weka Point Scout Camp in Rissington.

The Greendale Tamatea Scout Group is directly descended from one of the country’s first scout groups, formed at Weka Point.

The clay tiles which adorn the pou were made from material collected from the bush, the rivers and sea shore. They were pressed by youth and leaders from the group, then pit fired on the beach at the mouth of the local rivers.

The garden and pou will be looked after by the scouts for future generations, says Callum. “Giving back to the community is very important to us.”

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Photo: Members of the Greendale Tamatea Scout Group, at the Anderson Park community garden, including Cub Section Leader Callum Fisher, far back, middle.

19 December 2022

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