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Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

Planting has begun on Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway, with 20,000 plants delivered by helicopter to a privately owned farm near Woodville.

The first 10,000 plants – a mix of riparian and wetland natives – were taken to the first of what will be many planting sites last Thursday, with another 10,000 plants going in this week.

“This is an exciting milestone for our landscaping team who have been working towards this point for over a year,” says Lonnie Dalzell, Regional Manager Infrastructure Delivery.

“This planting is the first of almost two million native shrubs and trees that will be planted as part of the project’s commitment to leaving the environment better than we found it.”

The plants have been growing since last year at Kauri Park Nursery in Ashhurst, using seed sourced and grown early in the project. Twelve thousand seedlings were raised at Manawatū Prison through a partnership with Rangitāne o Manawatū. The plants were carefully packed into 600kg bags and individually ferried by helicopter to the planting site, for planting out over several days.

The landscaping team has been preparing planting sites at the Woodville farm and the Massey Tuapaka farm, in readiness to receive around 255,000 native plants this year. Planting at these sites is expected to run through to October 2021 and planning is underway for planting on other farms next year.

Site preparations included animal and plant pest control, installing water reticulation and building fences to keep the working farms separate from stream and wetland planting sites.

The rehabilitation of 38km of streams through riparian planting is part of the project’s ecological offset.

“The planting that has begun is part of this work, which will create significant ecological benefits by improving stream habitat and water quality,” Mr Dalzell says.

“Right now the focus is on getting the plants in the ground and so far we have been lucky with the weather. Over the long term, we’re committed to ensuring that all planted areas will be managed until they are fully established and will be protected for many years to come.

“Starting planting now, away from the construction works, means these areas will have four years of growth before the road is opened.”

See our video on planting on Te Ahu a Turanga.

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