More than 50 people from around the University and local community got stuck into the campus’ gardens recently to retrieve free plants as part of Shrub Day.
The event, which was open to staff, students and neighbours including St John’s College and local kohanga, allowed visitors to collect low-lying plants and shrubs that are due for removal as part of new construction taking place on campus.
Director of Regional Engagement, Joseph Macfarlane, had been spearheading the project and said he was surprised by the level of keen attendees who stopped at nothing to carry the plants away.
“Most people brought spades and pots, and some people brought trailers and trucks,” says Macfarlane.
“From the little totara seedling that Associate Professor Sandy Morrison found growing quietly in the corner, through to the kawakawa, rengarenga and kumarahou varieties – everyone found something to take home to replant and look after for the future.”
The day started with University Kaumātua Taki Turner offering up the karakia for the morning, followed by University Landscape Manager Mark Thompson giving an overview of the various plant varieties on offer.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Professor Bruce Clarkson, spoke about the significance of the time of the year, with reference to ‘ngā ua kōwhai’ the light showers of spring which signal the seasonal flowering of the kōwhai tree.
Macfarlane says he’s pleased with the turnout as it meant the plants could be repurposed instead of wasted.
“It was a lovely gesture to offer this opportunity to the community before construction for The Pā begins, and we were delighted with the attendance and the positive feedback.”
Coming off the tail end of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, the event was also an opportunity to celebrate aspects of te reo on campus in a unique way. The University provided plant names in both English and te reo, and participants were treated to a sausage sizzle while Waiata/Anthems, an album featuring Kiwi songs in te reo, played on loop.