Propagating opportunities for the District

With the day-to-day operation of the Kawakawa Nursery well established, the team has looked for ways to share their knowledge.  They have developed a Manawatū District specific propagation guide to share with the public.

The Kawakawa Nursery was established in 2016, initially with the intention of propagating plants for the native buffer planning around the Manawatū Wastewater Treatment Plant.  As the work of the nursery team became established and the opportunities became apparent, just like the plants the team grew, so too did the potential for the nursery.

Eight years later and now 200,000 native plants propagated on average a year, the Kawakawa Nursery has become a growing success.

While many nurseries throughout New Zealand can boast about their annual plant count, what makes Kawakawa Nursery a step above is that every native tree grown within the nursery is eco-sourced from the District. The team collects their own seed from various reserves around the Manawatū, germinates the seed, then on sells them to be planted in a range of District Council and Regional Council initiatives. Not only does it complete the cycle of the propagation it helps to minimise the cost while growing local biodiversity and creating native green spaces for the community to enjoy.

With a team of five and up until last week all females, the team itself is a close knit and fun team. Paige Mey, Nursery Manager explains that “out in the elements and being a physically demanding job could turn some people off but having likeminded staff that thrive on the energy of the team really makes the role rewarding.”

With the day-to-day of the nursery well established, the team has looked to other ways to share their knowledge externally.  They are now in the final stages of a propagation guide which they hope to distribute in digital and physical copies.  While there are many propagation guides on the market, there isn’t one specific to the Manawatū District.  The pages are laid out consistently from species to species making it easy to follow and complete with a notes section so that as a user trials and errors different ways of propagating or different plant species the guide can be customised based on personal experience.

“When MPI’s Te Uru Rakau came for a visit, they were impressed with what Kristin and the team had developed so far.  I’m excited to expand on what we have and soon start to distribute it to share the knowledge of the team with others” Mey says.

Kristin Berge is a key member of the team as a Nursery Assistant and after two years of working at the nursery has established autumn is her favourite season as it is when seeds are collected, and a new season of propagation begins. Her biggest tip for garden lovers is “just because you see it in the garden centre, doesn’t mean it’s time to plant it.”  She does advise that late autumn to early spring is a perfect time to get your hands dirty and start organising your planting.

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Banner Photo (L to R): Paige Mey, Nursery Manager and Kristin Berge, Nursery Assistant at Kawakawa Nursery.