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2013 Chairman's Report. 

2013 has been a busy, eventful and record breaking year for the Cambridge Tree Trust in which there were many highlights. Our core group of over 15 volunteers meets each Tuesday and have certainly made a difference to the Cambridge landscape this year by planting more than 9000 plants, mostly natives. This group of active environmental enthusiast have made our 22nd year of life an exceptional one.

In addition we had a surplus of 5000 nursery stock and these have been actively promoted and given away to many groups like Riding for Disabled, St Peters School, Te Awa Cycle Trust and Hospice Waikato for riparian planting along the Waikato River, along the Te Awa Cycle way and cleared Hamilton gullies. Many donations resulted from this process.

Sadly in May we lost long-standing stalwart, Brian “Blackie” Mayo, to a heart attack. His guiding presence, enormous knowledge, lively humour and great contribution in guiding Corrections Department teams is sorely missed. Blackie’s funeral atop his beloved Maungakawa was a memorable and moving occasion on a sunny day. Trying to encapsulate his 22 years of work with the Cambridge Tree Trust in a 5 minute speech was mission impossible. We have acknowledged his outstanding work by naming the Green Belt reserve between Watkins Rd and Thornton Rd the Brian “Blackie” Mayo Reserve and Waipa District Council signs have been erected at both ends of this reserve. As well, he has been awarded posthumous life membership of our Trust and his name will appear on an honours board that is soon to be erected in our nursery. (He would never accept such honours during his lifetime.)

Furthermore, a memorial seat to Blackie has been erected by the Guide Hall overlooking Lake Te Ko Utu where, over the years he did an enormous amount of work. Blackie’s Bank below the Guide Hall is a project in its third year and we will continue to complete the revegetation of this former weed-covered area in his honour.

There were many highlights in 2012 and this lists some of them.

Among them, were year five of the Lola Silcock Park project, the planting record, the nursery record of plants raised, year two of the Meadow Walk project, on-going work at Lake Te Ko Utu, continued very close co-operation with Waipa District Council, ongoing work with two secondary school groups from Cambridge High School and St Peters School, Guides and Scouts, the continued development of our exceptional website and the growing support and appreciation from the Cambridge community for our work.

The Lola Silcock Park project is in its fifth year and nearing completion. It is a splendid addition to the parks and reserves of Cambridge. The park commemorates our first life member, Lola Silcock, and the conversion of a wasteland backwater eyesore of the past into a peaceful recreational park today. It has been a real success story for us. It is becoming increasingly popular with walkers, joggers, families and dog walkers. Planting, mulching and maintenance continues here and the more than $30,000 spent here reflects the generous support the Cambridge Tree Trust has received from many sources. This has enabled the regeneration of a precious riverbank location into a park-like landscape and made the Waikato River much more accessible to all. 2013 saw more heritage fruit trees planted including a persimmon and Louisa plum at Blackie"s request, a wildflower section developed and a start made on planting the steep bank below residences of Olive Grove Lane. Most land owners have taken on the challenge of planting their own bank section and we have assisted many by providing plants from our nursery.

The record growing year of 2013 has been the result of the passion and enthusiasm of an increasingly large core group of members who meet each Tuesday at the Thornton Rd nursery to plant, weed, pot-on 1000’s of plants. We have also been indebted to the local nurseries like Anntons, Cambridge Forest and Native Nursery and Hoffmans who have been very supportive of the Cambridge Tree Trust work with many low cost native trees, shrubs, grasses and flax which have been potted-on in the nursery for later planting out. At any one time in the Tree Trust Nursery there are in excess of 12,000 plants being grown from eco-sourced seed, cuttings or root trainer purchases. A new development this year had been to give away surplus for local groups to plant and especially to grow on plants for Waipa District Council use.

The exciting new development of another five year project for the Tree Trust was the creation of a Meadow Walk linking the River Gardens subdivision with Fletcher Place and the Poets Track. This new track has been graded, fenced and is being planted over the next few years. It will follow the banks of the Waikato River and wind beside grazed reserve land. It has become a popular walkway and the two years of planting here have astounded users. The very generous grant from the Waikato River Clean-Up Trust gave the project a huge boost. Last year in phase1 some 5000 plants were located here. This year with the drive and energy of John and Jane Moodie, phase 2 has been completed and 7000 more plants went into the ground. There has been much additional support to this project from a group of senior St Peters students who have to do 50 hours community volunteer work towards their International Bacculaureate qualification. The support on two planting days of a team of teenagers undertaking pre-training for the army gave us a huge boost. Their energy and enthusiasm and productivity was infectious and uplifting. We have also had great support from locals and are appreciative of the Lions, whose $1000 grant allowed us to buy and plant more heritage fruit trees for our developing food forest. WDC staff have given tremendous support for the project and John Davies has erected a seat there giving splendid views of the Waikato River. We have applied for a second grant from the Waikato River Authority to complete Stages 3 and 4 of the project. Ongoing, we have maintenance and mulching issues but with the support of Correction Department teams we are meeting them.

The popular Lake Te Ko Utu is also undergoing annual input from Tree Trust members, with much new planting this year of camellias, ferns, nikau and grevillias. This has made the lake even more attractive to both locals and visitors. However the issue of unstable mature 120-year-old oaks and gums on sandy pumice banks has to be addressed and felling will progressively take place before public injury occurs. With WDC staff, we are facing the challenge of growing on sufficient and suitable plants to replant the felled area in winter 2014.

We have a key role here.

An ongoing and exciting development over this last year has been the work done on our website.  David Phillipps, with the guidance of Chris Twemlow, an IT expert from All Things Web of Hamilton, has built an ongoing history of our work and it is being refined with regular updates. It is now a very professional website that is gaining us much kudos.

Financially we are in a sound position and credit here must go to Greg Liddy and our grants expert, Joan McCathie, Donations regularly roll in as our public profile is strong and the work we have done around town greatly appreciated. Grants and support has been received from: Hewet Trust, Jumble Around, St Peters School, Fresh Choice, Heritage Trail, Trust Waikato, Pub Charity, the Community Board, Cambridge Union Parish Shop, George Marshall and Fonterra to name a few. We need to place on record the growing co-operation and support which we have received from the Waipa District Council and its staff. The work of Leslie Wood is greatly commended and I thank her for keeping me on track. My thanks also go to the core group whose energy, enthusiasm each week makes the weekly challenge of organising work routines for you all a joy.

Don Willoughby



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