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Making the Most of Mānuka

Comvita gift over 40,000 mānuka trees to Central Hawke’s Bay communities to help regenerate native bush

At the conclusion of the 2023 mānuka planting season and after seeing first hand the devastating impact that this year’s weather events has caused, Comvita has donated over 40,000 mānuka trees to local farms and schools in Central Hawke Bay. Planting projects included a gully retirement, erosion control, riparian and slip revegetation as well as a number of plantings in schools across Central Hawke’s Bay.

Native to Aotearoa New Zealand, these mānuka trees will help enrich the soil, enhance fertility, prevent erosion and aid in ecosystem restoration - promoting healthier soil for growth and biodiversity.

Tukituki Land Care (TLC) collaborated with Comvita to help distribute the trees amongst the community. TLC operates as a collective of farmers in the Tukituki Catchment and provides leadership to help farmers adopt practices that improve water quality and enhance the environment. Acting as a voice of the land, TLC protects the precious Taonga of the Tukituki catchment, the Tukituki River. With the help of TLC, the trees have now been planted across 19 farms and six schools in Central Hawke’s Bay.

BEL Group, one of the recipients of mānuka in the Tukituki catchment, says the trees will go a long way towards helping boost riparian zones and with erosion control and allowing native bush to regenerate over the coming years.

Charlotte Pedersen, BEL Group Environmental Lead, says the donation is a huge step forward in improving their local environment’s biodiversity and the water quality of nearby streams.

“We wanted to help with the natural riparian regeneration that has already occurred on our land, receiving thousands of mānuka saplings has helped us do exactly that,” said Pedersen.

Pedersen and her team have planted over 10,500 mānuka seedlings in a gully, where pine once thrived, which will help with soil stabilisation and improve water quality.

Comvita’s donated seedlings have also been used for the same purpose by Conon Kynoch, Ashley Clinton farmer, who has been able to fast-track the retirement of a gully that feeds into the Tukipo River.

“The gully is extremely steep and erosion prone”, said Kynoch. “I fenced it off fifteen years ago with the idea of retiring it. The fencing created a 6.3 hectare paddock which excluded cattle but I continued grazing sheep until I had a means of planting it up”.

When Conon heard of the Comvita offer via Tukituki Land Care he decided it was too good to refuse. “Due to the generosity of Comvita, I have been able to fast track this project,” said Kynoch. “To now see the plants in the ground and stock fully excluded is immensely satisfying”.

Tukituki Land Care contacted Mauri Oho, Jobs for Nature, who came on board to help many of the farmers plant their seedlings. With such large numbers across one catchment and a three day turnover to get the plants in the ground, Mauri Oho pulled in help from two other contractors.

Together they planted 30,000 seedlings across eight farms in some very challenging terrain. “What a fantastic project to be involved with”, said Arapera Paewai, Project Manager at Mauri Oho. “Some of the sites were pretty remote and extremely steep which presented challenges but the teams worked hard and we managed to get all the seedlings planted. It's an awesome result for this catchment”.

For Comvita, donating these mānuka trees is one of many actions they’ve taken as part of their Harmony Plan, which has seen close to seven million native trees planted since 2017.

David Banfield, Chief Executive of Comvita says, “Every time we’re able to give back to the communities that we’re a part of, we consider it one step closer to a brighter future. To see such wonderful taonga used to heal the whenua in such an impactful way shows what sort of progress can be made when the community comes together.”

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