By Shelley Topp
The first stage of the Honda Forest was planted by a group of volunteers on former red-zoned land in Kaiapoi last Saturday.
The forest, which will eventually cover 3.2 hectares, is the result of a partnership between the Waimakariri District Council and Honda New Zealand.
Six hundred and ninety native trees donated by Honda New Zealand’s tree fund were
planted on the land in eastern Kaiapoi.
A total of 15,000 native trees will be planted in stages to complete the forest in 2022.
Entry to the forest, which will eventually surround the wetlands of the Beswick stormwater management area, is off Charles Street.
Before the planting began on Saturday, an opening ceremony was held for the forest, which included a blessing of the area by Kim Manahi, representing Ngai Tuahuriri.
During the opening ceremony, Waimakariri Mayor David Ayers thanked Honda New Zealand managing director Nobuya Sonoda, for the company’s generosity.
“We asked for a certain amount of money and they gave us way, way more,” he said.
The Honda tree fund was established in 2004. Since then, it has donated more than 650,000 trees nationwide.
Last August, the Japanese automotive company decided to celebrate 30 years of business in New Zealand by donating another 30,000 native trees to be planted around New Zealand within 12 months.
The Kaiapoi regeneration project has been the main benefactor of this initiative.
“Honda New Zealand is committed to a sustainable society in our future and we are continually looking for ways to contribute to New Zealand communities that will benefit generations to come,” Mr Sonoda said.
The planting day attracted many volunteers, including Stephen and Rosemary Oram, former Charles Street residents who, along with many others, lost their home when the area was red-zoned after the September 2010 Canterbury earthquake.
It was sad to return to the area, they said. They would have preferred that the earthquake had never happened, but the new forest was a great way to regenerate the area and recognise the loss people who formerly lived there had suffered.
“It’s cool to see the new forest being planted, Rosemary said.