Andrew MacLean | Restoring The Land
Tàmata Hills Restoration Project
The Yamaha Motor New Zealand marketing team recently headed to Kaipara Harbour, two hours north of their Auckland office, to get their hands dirty and plant a few trees on Andrew Maclean and Paul Van Dorp's Tàmata Hills property. The hands-on experience not only contributed to the local environment but also provided the team with the opportunity to learn more about a fantastic initiative Andrew and the local community are undertaking. The Tàmata Hills project will see more than 140ha of land returned to its natural state for the first time in almost 200 years.
“"The excellent work will continue long after I'm gone, this is not a case of planting something and walking away"
The 145 hectares of land backs onto native bush, including Atuanui/Mount Auckland Reserve, 625 hectares of well-established, managed native bush. The rejuvenation project aims to restore the heavily degraded landscapes of Tàmata Hills to native vegetation so it will once again blend seamlessly into the surrounding natural landscapes.
Property owner and project leader Andrew Maclean revealed the many and varied cycles the land has been through since European settlement. "Over the past 200 years, land uses on the property have included clearing of the native bush in the 1800s for sheep and beef production, a pine forest in the 1980s - which was harvested in 2004 before the area was used for livestock pasture once again," he explained. "Widespread erosion occurred following the commercial plantation clear-fell pine harvesting. From a soil conservation and sedimentation reduction perspective, the land now needs to be returned to permanent forest."
Andrew said several degraded wetlands need to be restored. "To support the regeneration process and landscape planting programs, ongoing maintenance, and pest control management are all required."
A tour of the native bush surrounding Tàmata Hills reveals the wide range of impressive vegetation that is native to the area. Kanuka, Rimu, Kauri, Totara, Puriri, Rewarewa, Mamaku, Taraire, and Nikau are thriving and playing their part in the area's biodiversity. Native birdlife also plays a vital role in the revival process with seed dispersal. Native pigeons, Piwakawaka, and Tui are evident, all beginning to return to Tàmata Hills to provide a helping hand. "This area is their native environment, so by returning this land to native bush, we are also expanding their natural habitat," Andrew explains. "We are helping to create environments for those species to prosper in. In return, they will help with the restoration work. Degraded landscapes like this are no longer suitable for farming under the current economic model, so restoring the local fauna and flora and the biodiversity that goes along with that restoration makes sense. It's something that chimes in with the vision and mentality of most people these days."
Thanks to the help of dedicated volunteers, Andrew and his team have made steady progress. As anyone who visits the project area quickly discovers, the most enjoyable part of the process is being hands-on with sleeves rolled up and getting a bit of dirt under the fingernails. "The excellent work here will continue long after I'm gone," Andrew said as looked out over the land from the small cabin near its peak. "This is not a case of planting something and walking away; you can't walk away from projects like this. Much work still needs to be done, including programme management around pests."
Yamaha supports Andrew's team with a four-seater Wolverine, which doubles as a utility vehicle by collapsing the rear seats. Before getting the side-by-side, the team were forced to walk everywhere on the property. "We've got 53 pest traps, so getting around to those on foot was a full day's walking," Andrew explained. "Now, we can complete that task in significantly less time. Yamaha has transformed our ability to get around the property and do the extra work that needs to be done."
Volunteer groups are an important component of the project, working hard to replant in areas where some trees haven’t survived. "Such work is helping to promote this place as a showcase for the local communities to be proud of, as well as an example for other similar initiatives as to what can be achieved," revealed Andrew. "We want to promote this as a model project for others to get involved in native forest restoration. As a country and people who are passionate about the natural environment, we also want to use this as an educational project."
The Tàmata Hills project aligns with Yamaha's sustainable development goals, specifically protecting and restoring land to its native state. Yamaha is delighted to be a part of the process, reflecting its philosophy as a Kando-creating company, which offers new exciting opportunities and a more fulfilling life for people worldwide.