We Heart Natives

We Heart Natives
  • Written by
  • Deepika Sulekh

It’s definitely greener on this side

Whether it’s for increased wellbeing, an opportunity to explore the wonders of our regions, or play a part in environmental restoration, us Kiwis are intent on getting up-close-and-personal with nature. And, with a global crisis never far from our minds, tuning into a greener way of doing and living is rewarding for both body and soul.

While writing this during Conservation Week 2020, I learnt a lot about New Zealand’s wildlife and our growing appreciation for native trees. So, what do native species offer our country that non-native species don’t? As it turns out, a lot.

New Zealand’s unique eco-system has allowed our native plants to develop extraordinary characteristics that exist nowhere else on earth. In fact, 80% of our trees, ferns and flora are endemic (only found in New Zealand). Not only are they part of our Kiwi identity, they clean up our waterways, protect our ecosystems, reduce the effects of climate change, and provide sustainable habitats for thousands of native birds and bugs.

Native trees are far more likely to thrive where they’ve adapted to the soil, climate and local wildlife over time. This means they’re easier to establish and grow, requiring less hands-on intervention, and their water needs taken care of by the local climate – plus they don’t require fertilisers or pesticides in order to survive. Unfortunately, a handful of our unique trees continue to face difficulties across the board, including kauri dieback, relentless attack from pests, myrtle rust, damage to tree roots and sensitivity to fires. Not to mention increasing urbanisation resulting in fewer trees and more buildings – not a save and protect measure.

The solution?

Thankfully, there are initiatives in New Zealand that are working to restore our native forests and dedicated to planting native trees – which Kiwis can get involved with – these include:


Trees That Count

Trees That Count is a conservation charity with the vision of helping plant 200 million native trees across the country. People and organisations gift or donate trees which are then planted and cared for by groups across the community – building an online community marketplace that connects tree planters with funded trees. Prices start from $10 per tree. Find out more: www.treesthatcount.co.nz

Native Forest Restoration Trust

Dedicate a tree or grove of trees as a gift, celebration of an event or a way to remember a loved one. Your dedicated trees will grow to form part of a newly restored native forest protected by the Trust for all New Zealanders to enjoy. Dedicating a single tree costs just $25 or dedicate a small grove from $100. Find out more: www.nfrt.org.nz

Native planting on the home front

Looking to turn your own backyard into a native sanctuary this spring without transforming it into a complete forest? Native planting is possible on a minor scale – in fact there are a few key native shrubs and plants that are destined for small-tomedium gardens. Think a maximum of 1m in height and staggered planting approx. 60cm – 1m apart. Native plants to reach for include: Corokia – Frosted Chocolate, Hebe – Red Edge or Wiri Mist, Coprosma Lobster, King fern, Kakabeak, Everlasting Daisy – ground cover, Dwarf Horopito, Pittosporum Golf Ball and Pohutukawa Tahiti.


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