Each year, more than 3,000 plants decorate the LPC Rescue boat in a pattern of bright green native trees, carefully balanced and destined for the shores of Ōtamahua/Quail Island.
Since the Ōtamahua/Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust was formed in 1998, more than 95,000 trees have been planted on the island, and native birds are beginning to return to the historic island.
This year marks 20 years of Lyttelton Port Company (LPC) supporting the Trust, which is dedicated to restoring the island’s native habitat.
The Trust aims to develop and implement the restoration of the ecology of the island, in partnership with the Department of Conservation (DOC).
Supporting the trust
LPC has been involved with the Trust since 1999, providing both financial and in-kind assistance to support the exceptional work the organisation undertakes.
The LPC Rescue boat is used to transport plants from Lyttelton to the island for the main planting in August each year. In July, LPC’s marine team carried on the tradition, transporting 3,000 plants and six volunteers to the island.
The volunteers and members of the marine team created a human chain to transport the thousands of plants from cars and trailers, down to the Waterfront House pontoon, where launch master John Thompson was waiting to load the plants into every nook of the vessel.
Eco-sourcing from the region
The range of native plants were carefully sourced from the DOC nursery in Motukarara.
“The reason we use the DOC nursery is that we can guarantee that the seed has been sourced from original trees within the harbour basin or Port Hills area,” Trust chair Ian McLennan said.
“The common term for this is eco-sourcing. So, for example, we would never plant pohutakawa on the island as it doesn’t occur naturally this far south.”
In time, the planting will restore the native forest that was originally on the island. This project relates to the Hills and Lowlands band of the Whaka-Ora Healthy Harbour plan.
“The new forest will provide habitats for a variety of native birds, insects and lizards,” McLennan said.
“Already after 20 years of planting, we have birds such as pīpīwharauroa (shining cuckoo), korimako (bellbird) and kererū (wood pigeon) successfully nesting on the island. It will take 100 years for the forest to be a reasonable facsimile of the original forest, so it is a long-term multi generational project.”
The Lyttelton Port Company is one of the five Whaka-Ora Healthy Harbour partner organisations.