Spring is upon us, and an exciting new project is underway—we’re in the process of building our very own plant nursery on the site of the old school at Pātearoa. In late August, a couple of big water tanks arrived—the first stage of an operation two years in the planning. “It's really exciting,” says project manager Caitlin Daley. “It's also a relief, with the planting season looming.”
In September, the 32,000 plants we've already got in the ground will be maintained, then over spring and summer, a new round of planting gets underway with another 30,000 tussocks, carexes, flaxes and other plants destined for a new life in the Māniatoto.
Until now, our plants have come from a range of Otago nurseries who have all provided invaluable support for our project. Having our own nursery will allow us to hold more plants locally in preparation for planting. Down the track, the plan is to start propagating our own.
The advantages of that will be twofold. Firstly, it will allow us to increase the amount of plants available to us without extending our budget. Secondly, it will mean our plants are pre-hardened to the Māniatoto’s harsh climate.
“The best thing is having the plants growing up in the sort of conditions that they are going to face,” says Caitlin. “It will make them more resilient when they go on the ground.”
Growing plants is very time-consuming and labour-intensive, so we are going to start at a realistic number —around 5000— and work from there. We currently have space for 30,000 plants, but that could be extended in the future.
Caitlin hopes the nursery will continue beyond the 5-year life of the Tiaki Maniototo project. “The nursery will be a valuable asset for the Pātearoa community,” she says. “Along with Central Otago District Council, they have supported us in the development of the old school site. We are setting up the nursery with longevity in mind so we can give something back”
Long-term, “it will hopefully provide income and jobs for people in the community.” There will also be opportunities for propagation workshops and other learning there. “It'll be a place for people to improve their skill set,” she says.
Caitlin would like to acknowledge the help we have received from neighbouring catchment groups in getting this work underway, as well as locals who have expressed an interest in getting involved in the nursery. Once things get up and running, it’ll be all hands on deck. Anyone wanting to get involved can get in touch with Caitlin: