Volunteers key to Port Hills restoration work
Christchurch City Council Newsline: 5th December 2016
For Kev Dean, the chance to work as a volunteer planting and weeding on the Port Hills is a privilege.
Mr Dean is a recent retiree, and is one of a core group of 10 volunteers who have been turning up to Port Hills Restoration volunteer days for more than eight years – a group that Christchurch City Council Park Rangers want to recognise on today’s International Volunteer Day.
“Without these people giving up their time and committing so fully to our programme, we wouldn’t have a programme,” Council Park Ranger Di Carter says. “They are a stunning group of people that are “the core” of the restoration on the Port Hills.”
The volunteer planting programme restores native forest to designated areas of the Port Hills. About 3000 native trees are planted by volunteers each winter, and maintained in spring and autumn.
Some of the group have been involved for over 15 years and, Ms Carter says, the core 10 have been there for nearly every event. “They are the ones who inspire others in the community to share the pleasure of restoring the local environment.”
For Kev Dean, choosing to volunteer seemed a natural step. “I’m a tree hugger, unashamedly I guess. My partner and I were walking in the Port Hills one day and we saw Di out with a group planting and thought that was a great idea. Initially we had a little reluctance to get involved as we thought it might be at the expense of staff jobs, but when we talked to people we realised a lot of the work volunteers do would just never go ahead without them, so we decided to get involved,” Mr Dean said.
“Di Carter (who runs the Port Hills Restoration Programme) is such an inspiration. She gets out there and talks to every volunteer, she keeps us all coming back. She is the reason we all return, I’m sure of it. She has a passion and energy that we’re all just drawn too. And it’s not too taxing. Personally, it’s nice to be putting something back but if anything, it’s purely selfish. I would like to see more bush around the place and so I’m happy to be involved in making that happen.”
Here are some photos of some of the wonderful Port Hills Restoration Programme volunteers.
A presentation to volunteers several years ago showing before and after photos had also inspired the volunteers to keep going. “It was just brilliant to see,” Mr Dean said. “Some of the things we had planted were now up to my shoulders and it’s just amazing to see that in my lifetime. We really are making a difference.”
A further spin off was the increased birdlife now filling the airwaves near Mr Dean’s home – with wood pigeons, black fantails and bellbirds galore filling a reserve near his Westmorland home.
Ms Carter said the volunteer programme still formed a huge part of the Council’s parks work, and everyone’s contribution genuinely made a difference. “Volunteering is a great way to help look after the environment you enjoy. Learn more about your community, be active in the outdoors and meet new people. You can be active and healthy while learning about your parks and contributing to the environment.”
There are 18 public volunteer events of differing types on the Port Hills each year.
Find out more on volunteering on the Port Hills.