Motivations and goals that continue to this day
Not wanting to see a small forest fragment degrade any further, a small band of volunteers decided to make changes in their community. Instead of complaining, they donned their gumboots and started weeding Witheford Reserve.
And so it was that in 1998, the “Kaipatiki Ecological Restoration Project” was incorporated and the momentum started. Jenny Christianson was the passion behind the project and she soon had a band of merry men (and women) who volunteered their time and energy. The project had many homes: Jenny’s house, a cupboard in the local scout den, and now a converted Council kindergarten facility, hidden in the lower reaches of the Eskdale Reserve in Birkdale.
As the new Kaipatiki Road and bridge was built, trees fell, and weeds and animal pests were given a gateway into the riparian zone. Wandering Jew and convolvulus, among many others, began to grow profusely, competing with a stressed native biota.
Seedlings at the base of parents’ trees could no longer penetrate the dense weed mat and therefore died. A daunting challenge for a relatively small band of volunteers, but with the support and assistance of the North Shore City Council – an act of almost blind faith – the road margin was cleared and planted, and a walkway, designed to link with the envisaged coastal walkway, was created.
As volunteer numbers increased, planting, pest management and education programmes were established to provide direction. Particular emphasis was placed on restoring the riparian corridor as litter, weeds and stormwater problems had severely polluted the tiny stream.
In an effort to change the tide children and businesses joined local residents in planting the hundreds of native plants propagated by the volunteers. During this period the Project was able to secure its first major external funding and employ some equally passionate staff. Under their leadership, Kaipatiki continued to foster a community interest in environmental matters, dragging in more and more support and the membership expanded.
With growth of the organisation came a widening in focus, to include education around sustainability issues and a change of name to the “Kaipatiki Project”. New programmes such as Kereru Awhina, Nature for Neighbourhoods, Enviro-Schools, Create Your Own Eden, Nursery Bites and the Streamside Assistance Programme were started and crossed the boundaries of the reserve and entered into people’s lives through education and hands-on assistance for their homes, gardens, schools and work places.
A total makeover of the Kaipatiki Project’s HQ was made possible in 2009/10, thanks to input from staff, volunteers and sponsors. New carpet and curtains, an internal & external paint job, a rainwater tank and a tidy up meant a more comfortable and productive working environment for staff, visitors and volunteers.
Native plant propagation really took off in the nursery adjoining the Centre when, in 2009, the Birkenhead and Northcote Community Board granted permission for the Project to use land to the rear of the Centre to store young trees and shrubs. This overflow area, with its dedicated irrigation facility, now houses thousands of plants destined for replanting not only by Kaipatiki Project volunteers but also plants which have been grown to order for other local restoration groups including Tuff Crater and Le Roys Bush.
The Kaipatiki Project Committee became a Trust in 2009 – with their sights set on growing the organisation, developing its social enterprise arm,and focussed on securing a new home for the Centre.
A crowning achievement for all involved with the Kaipatiki Project came in February 2010, when the Project won a ‘Highly Commended’ placing in the Auckland Regional Council Sustainable Environment Awards.
Kaipatiki Project is able to operate due to the generosity of our funders and supporters