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Nearly 75,000 native trees, shrubs to be planted on Auckland's volcanic cones

More than 74,000 new native trees and shrubs are to be planted on Auckland's volcanic cones by 2021.

Over 19,000 of these have already been planted over the last 12 months on the Tūpuna Maunga (volcanic cones).

Chair of the Tūpuna Maunga Authority Paul Majurey says large-scale planting has always been part of the vision to restore the maunga.

“Since the authority formed in 2014 we have been laying the groundwork to reinstate original ecology and biodiversity and reconnect ecological networks both within and between the maunga," Mr Majurey said.

"Through this work we are also protecting indigenous plant and animal species already present on the maunga, some of which are threatened species," he said.

Native trees and shrubs planned by 2021 include approximately 33,300 on Ōhuiarangi / Pigeon Mountain in Howick, about 13,200 on Te Pane o Mataoho / Te Ara Pueru / Māngere Mountain,  about 12,100 on Maungarei / Mt Wellington, about 10,100 on Owairaka / Te Ahi-kā-a-Rakataura / Mt Albert and about 5,400 on Matukutūruru / Wiri Mountain.

A 2014 Treaty of Waitangi settlement transferred ownership of 14 ancestral mountains to the Mana Whenua tribes of Auckland and enabled the establishment of the Tūpuna Maunga Authority.  

Historically, vegetation on the maunga was typically Pūriri ngahere / forest; an ecosystem type present in highly fertile areas associated with volcanic and alluvial deposits, and which are now classified as critically endangered in Auckland. 

Volcanic Pūriri forest included diverse native plant species and were habitat for thriving populations of invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds and bats all contributing to the unique character of Auckland’s pre-human biodiversity.

The authority says through the restoration planting, common species that could begin returning to the maunga include tui, korimako / bellbird, ruru / morepork, piwakakawaka / New Zealand fantail, riroriro / grey warbler, kereru / New Zealand woodpigeon, tahou / silvereye, and kotare / kingfisher. 

Native plant species that will support the regeneration of native birds by providing food sources will include ferns, karaka, puriri, totara, mahoe, mangeao, puka, kohekohe and titoki, it says.

Mr Majurey says planting days that involve local communities will be an important part of the planting programme.

At Ōhuiarangi / Pigeon Mountain in Howick, more than 1000 children from local schools will participate in three planting days planned for this month. Around 150 community members have already participated in planting days there so far. 

Around 100 school children from local Māngere Bridge schools attended planting days at Te Pane o Mataoho / Te Ara Pueru / Māngere Mountain in early August. 

Volunteers are now being sought for community planting days at Ōwairaka / Te Ahi-kā-a-Rakataura / Mt Albert on Saturday August 24 and at Maungarei / Mt Wellington the next day. Those interested can email jordan.winiata@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz. 

Community planting day at Ōhuiarangi / Pigeon Mountain, July 2019. Source: Tūpuna Maunga Authority