On World Biodiversity Day, 22 May 2019, Palmerston North English Language Partners ESOL Intensive class did their bit for biodiversity in New Zealand by planting native trees. They volunteered with Biodiversity Services and they learned how to plant trees. In New Zealand, 4,000 native species are under threat, so our learners where taught the importance of giving the many native birds and insects of New Zealand a home.
At the start of the day, some people were picked up in a big black ute by a guy called ‘Guy’ who was wearing gumboots and shorts, and got a ride with him. Others went in Aung Win’s car, and some went with Mary in her car.
On the way, there was a kingfisher on a power line, and some magpies, and lots of cows.
The total number of trees to be planted was 4,500, and the ESOL Intensive team planted about 200 or so. This was appreciated by the Biodiversity staff.
When people arrived at the site, they put on raincoats. The first lesson was how to climb a fence on a farm. You should always climb next to the big post. This was a new experience for many people, and made more tricky by the (other people’s slightly too big) gumboots in some cases.
The soil on the site was sandy and easy to dig, and the grass had been sprayed off so it was easy to see where to plant each tree. It was a swampy area, though, so the team got very wet feet.
At the start of the day, it was light drizzle but it soon turned to rain. People got cold and very wet, but they carried on working hard anyway. The team planted a range of native trees including hebes, kowhai, titoki, ngaio, kanuka, manuka, coprosma and toe toe. It was hard to try to remember the names of the trees!
Some people dug holes and chopped up the ‘sod’ to make it easier to backfill the hole. It is important not to damage the roots of the young trees, so the team learned how to massage the planter bag before tipping or gently pulling out the tree, ready to place in the planting hole.
Other people carried the plants from the trailer to their planting spots, and picked up the empty pots afterwards.
The team were also taught to always leave the spades standing upright so that they wouldn’t be lost in the grass.
At the end, feeling cold and tired, but also happy, everybody rode on the trailer to save them all the walk back to the cars.
As the whole team had worked very hard in the cold, and had water in their shoes and wet clothes. They were all very glad to get home and get dry, and to sit down out of the rain.
-Palmerston North ESOL Intensive teacher Mary