Gully restored by young at heart

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One of Tamahere’s hidden gully treasures has become a labour of love for some of its oldest residents.
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Since 1995, the Tamahere Eventide Home & Retirement Village and its green-fingered residents have been working hard to revegetate the gully that forms part of the 10ha property and bring back native birds to the area.

Currently the challenging task has been taken up most enthusiastically by former farming octogenarians, Noel and Elva Turner. The picturesque, wooded slopes leading to the Mangaone Stream are a credit to the Turners and the many others who have laboured long and hard before them.

Wide, firm tracks take the visitor on a pleasant walk through tall, shady, native trees interspersed with some exotics. Seats have been placed at regular intervals where the weary or the contemplative can admire a view. Many of the paths are bordered with fences of ponga fern trunks, some of which have begun to sprout fronds.

A series of ponds carry water which runs off the surrounding land, eventually finding its way into the Mangaone. Some humourist has put a ‘no fishing’ sign on one pond, which will be a relief to its solitary resident, a large gold fish the Turners call John.

Other signs marking areas along the path reflect some of the birds that make the gully home – Ferntails Flit (piwakawaka) and Silver-eye Lane (tauhou).

Humour is also evident in a sign on a shelter, nicknamed the Bus Stop. It reads Cafe – DIY and BYO, which is just what gully care work is all about – do-it-yourself and bring your own – whatever it takes.

Like any project to foster or enhance a natural ecosystem, the Eventide gully will always be a work in progress. There are infesting weeds to wrangle and tender seedlings to encourage. But great progress has already been made to restore a precious and rare Waikato environment and create a lasting legacy for those who follow – young and old.

For others keen on gully restoration who perhaps don’t know where to start or need help with efforts underway, Tamahere has an active gully care group and a community native plant nursery offering low cost plants to locals. The nursery is open on the first Sunday of the month, 1.30pm to 3.30pm, on Devine Road, behind the Tamahere Community Centre. Reminders of upcoming days and invitations to go along to them are posted on the Tamahere Forum.

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