The Manuku Street Reserve, a special part of Masterton’s environmental heritage, will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2024.
But if co-creator Liz Waddington is planning any celebration, it’s far more likely to be a special tree planting day than cake and bubbles.
In October 1999, Liz Waddington wrote to Masterton mayor Bob Francis with the idea of creating a reserve at the top of Cody Crescent in Lansdowne, along the piece of land, not zoned for housing, that connected to Manuka Street.
The area, about 1.8 hectares, sloped from Manuka Street down to a creek, diverted under a culvert, and across a wetlands area to a pond. This combination of dry slopes and wetland made it an ideal environment for a number of different plants and trees to thrive in.
The neighbourhood was consulted and, as Liz Waddington reported, had “greeted the idea with 100 per cent enthusiasm”.
The Masterton Council was supportive too, as was the Greater Wellington Regional Council and money was provided from various quarters to underwrite necessary fencing and pathways and the purchase of trees and shrubs. But, as has been the case from the beginning, the main contribution of time and effort came from the reserve’s neighbours.
The early stalwarts were Liz and John Waddington, Maggie Feringa, and Eddie Bannister and Totara Drive School enthusiastically supported planting days. More recently, the local branch of the Forest and Bird Society has played an active part.
Several years ago, when counting stopped, over 20,000 trees had been planted. “It seems that many natives last about 20 years,” says Liz Waddington, “and now a second generation has successfully self-seeded.” She takes particular pleasure in the way a number of kauri, rimu, and totara are growing strongly. The reserve is increasingly a haven for tūī, fantails, grey warblers, bellbirds and other native birds and a profusion of ferns is appearing spontaneously.
Over the summer, the reserve’s an easy excursion for families, with a number of surprises along the path to delight young ones. Led by Lesley Marsh, an ‘Enchanted Forest’ has been created on a section of the paths with quirky displays designed to intrigue children and amuse their parents. And, right now, there’s plenty of evidence that Christmas is nearly here.
Says Liz Waddington, who remains very involved after a quarter century, “It’s a wonderful example of what can be achieved by volunteers, many of them reserve neighbours, with a little help at the right time from local authorities,”