Heritage Park celebrates 20 Years of Planting and Restoration


Arbor Day brings young environment lovers together (Image Supplied by Hamilton City Council)

Praneeta Mahajan
Hamilton, May 28, 2024

As Arbor Day 2024 approaches, Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park is gearing up for an eventful weekend dedicated to environmental restoration and community engagement. This year is particularly special as it marks the 20th anniversary of planting and restoration efforts at the park, symbolising two decades of unwavering dedication to preserving New Zealand’s native flora.

All ages come together

The Arbor Day festivities at Waiwhakareke will span three days, from Thursday, May 30, 2024 to Saturday, June 1, 2024. The first two days will see a significant turnout of school and corporate groups, eager to contribute to the park’s ongoing restoration projects. The climax of the celebration will be the community planting day on Saturday, June 1, when Hamilton residents are invited to participate in this collective effort.

In honour of the 20th anniversary, the park has set an ambitious goal to plant 20,000 native plants over the three-day period. This massive planting initiative underscores the park’s commitment to enhancing the local ecosystem and engaging the community in meaningful environmental action.

Ruud Kleinpaste, the ‘Bug Man,’ will host all three days of planting (Image supplied by Hamilton City Council)

Special guest brings excitement

Adding a touch of excitement to the event, Ruud Kleinpaste, known as the ‘Bug Man,’ will be the special guest for all three days of planting. Mr Kleinpaste, a Dutch-New Zealand naturalist and host of the Animal Planet series “Buggin’ with Ruud,” is a passionate advocate for insects and ecosystem restoration. He will bring along some of his “buggy buddies” to make the Arbor Day celebrations even more memorable.

“We are very excited for Ruud to join us this Arbor Day,” said Cheridan Mathers, Te Kaaroro Curator for Natives & Waiwhakareke. “Arbor Day’s community planting is a great opportunity for everyone to come together to do their bit, learn why restoring native plants is so important, and have fun doing it.”

Community involvement

The celebration on Saturday, June 1, 2024 will kick off with an opening ceremony featuring Mayor Paula Southgate and Professor Bruce Clarkson. Their presence highlights the significance of the event and the importance of community involvement in environmental conservation.

Participants on Saturday will also enjoy a special treat with a 50% discount at the onsite food truck, ‘Unique Food Geeks.’ This popular food truck is known for its commitment to using local, sustainable ingredients, making it a fitting partner for an event focused on environmental stewardship.

With a combination of educational opportunities, hands-on planting, and community spirit, Arbor Day 2024 at Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park promises to be a landmark event. As the park celebrates 20 years of restoration, it also looks forward to the future, with hopes of continuing its mission for many years to come.

About Arbor day

Arbor Day in New Zealand is a nationwide event celebrated on June 5th, aligning with World Environment Day. It aims to inspire and encourage individuals and communities to plant and care for trees, promoting environmental conservation and awareness. The tradition of Arbor Day in New Zealand dates back to 1890, reflecting the country’s long-standing commitment to preserving its unique natural heritage.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.

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