School children to help out with Port Saddle planting

COMMUNITY: Two planting days will be held on the Port Saddle above Lyttelton this Friday and Saturday.

Lyttelton’s hills will soon be alive with the sound of spade-wielding school children.

At a planting day planned for August 18, pupils from Heathcote and Lyttelton primary schools will hike up to the Port Saddle along with members of the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust.

The 17ha Port Saddle lies on Lyttelton’s eastern hill side between the city council-owned Urumau Reserve and DOC reserve land at Buckleys Bay and Tauhinu-Korokio.

Lyttelton Port Company owns the land and is working with the trust to restore the site by controlling weeds and pests and planting natives.

Trust volunteer co-ordinator Sophie Hartnell said by bringing local school children on board early on in the project, they would be more inclined to feel a sense of ownership and want to continue being involved into the future.

“Both schools are very close and, as this is intended to be a recreational area for all, we want to create a sense of belonging. Hopefully, they will then be more likely to use it and look after it.”

As of last week, 40 pupils had registered for the expedition.

Along with planting trees and shrubs, DOC staff will speak to them about pest management and the predator-free Banks Peninsula initiative.

On August 19, trust volunteers and locals will head up the hill for another burst of planting.

Mrs Hartnell has emailed the trust’s database of about 100 volunteers asking for helpers. She will also drop fliers around Lyttelton letting residents know about the planting day.

Ngaio, akeake, kanuka, matagouri and broadleaf grew on the saddle originally. Now, only exotic grasses and woody weeds, pines and eucalypts remain.

LPC and the trust hope that enhancing the land through planting, walkways and cycle tracks will help provide accessible recreational opportunities close to Lyttelton.

The plants are being funded by LPC.