A Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service initiative supporting communities to take up planting projects, and at the same time honour local heroes, is continuing to reap rewards.
Since its launch in 2018, Matariki Tu Rākau has funded 660,000 native trees planted as living memorials, at over 300 events nationwide, and is now accepting applications for 2022 with Marae, schools, councils and community conservation groups all encouraged to apply.
Matariki Tu Rākau senior advisor Belinda Miller says the programme is a great way to honour special people in their communities who have shown exemplary community service, or have brought distinction through their work, while planting trees in their memory.
"Not only is tree planting a wonderful way to commemorate and remember those who were important to us and our communities, it is also a great way to enhance the environment and native biodiversity by restoring and rebuilding our natural habitat and protecting our land, soils and waterways."
Matariki Tu Rākau grants provide funding for native trees and rongoā (traditional Māori medicine) species, land preparation, a plaque, and kai for the planting event and can also contribute to tree maintenance.
"The Matariki Tu Rākau team can help you plan where to plant your memorial, what trees to plant, how to prepare and maintain your planting and how to get the local community involved," says Belinda Miller.
Further motivation to apply for a grant this year is that 2022 is the first year of the national Matariki Holiday on Friday 24 June.
"Matariki Holiday fits nicely into the planting season. Bringing whānau together to share food and remember loved ones is at the heart of Matariki and planting trees is a fitting way to celebrate," Belinda Miller says.
"A terrific example of a 2021 Matariki Tu Rākau planting event was at Maeroa Intermediate School in Hamilton, where students planted 500 trees to restore a gully and honour the late Rob Begbie, former teacher and stalwart of the community.
"The children at the school collected seed, propagated the seedlings in their shade house, planted the trees, and are now maintaining their new forest and 'outdoor classroom' at their school." A video of the planting day at the school can be seen on the Matariki Tu Rākau webpage.
"These small forests that are planted through the Matariki Tu Rākau programme provide important resources for communities to spend time in nature. Our hope is that these forests provide spaces for communities to enjoy for generations to come," says Belinda Miller.
For more information or to apply for a grant, visit the Matariki Tu Rākau webpage, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 0800 00 83 33.
For more information email: TeUruRakau_media@mpi.govt.nz