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A grove of native trees planted on the Dairy Flat highway alongside Massey University’s Albany campus to honour Mataariki was blessed last week with the unveiling of a plaque.
The grove was planted last year to honour the Māori New Year celebration of Mataariki. Trees were donated by nursery owner Don Turner, a Northcote resident and fourth generation member of the family who established and ran the produce company Turners & Growers Ltd.
The cluster of 40 young trees includes kauri, totara, kowhai, puriri and rimu, karaka, rewarewa, white maire and houhere. A new tree will be added every year at Mataariki, which is celebrated over the period starting around the end of May when the seven-star cluster Pleiades first appears.
Mr Turner, whose names is on the plaque, says he wanted to donate the trees because of his longstanding relationship with the University’s campuses at Albany as well as Manawatu, where he was a member of the Massey University Agricultural Research Foundation for over a decade.
“I thought it would be lovely to give some native trees as part of the evolution of Albany campus,” he says.
At the informal ceremony to unveil the plaque, Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey said the native tree grove provides a distinctive New Zealand presence to complement the ‘Spanish Mission’ architectural style of the campus buildings behind it.
Mr Turner envisages the grove, which is accessible to the public, will become an attractive feature once the trees mature, providing an area of shade and place to rest for people using the walkway. He has also donated a further 25 native trees which are planted within the campus grounds.
Similar native tree-planting projects to commemorate Mataariki are underway at the University’s Manawatu and Wellington campuses, as part of an initiative by Professor Sir Mason Durie, Assistant Vice-Chancellor Māori and Pasifika.