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Meet the seniors and school kids growing our plants

A group of Kristin School students have been working with a team of keen gardeners from an Albany retirement village to grow harakeke for the Te Hōnonga a Iwi restoration.

One of our project supporters Nicholas Mayne donated harakeke seedlings from his home nursery to four Year Two classes at Kristin.

The young students carefully planted the seedlings into pots containing a mix of bio-organic compost from the Rosedale site and potting mix. They then cared for the 370 plants for several months, making sure they were well-watered, protected from the wind and had the right amount of sun and shade in their temporary home in the school garden.

With school close to finishing for the year, the students have handed over the plants to a team of residents at Albany’s Settlers Lifestyle Village. These seven older adults, who have extensive gardening experience and knowledge, will take over care of the harakeke until they are ready to be planted at the restoration site next winter.

The head gardener at the village has found a place to house the plants where there is good drainage, shade from a hedge and easy access for watering.

When the plants are ready to go in the ground next winter, the children and the team from Settlers will plant them together, then share morning tea.

Te Hōnonga a Iwi Project Co-ordinator Nicky Shave says the collaboration is based on overseas models that have increased social connection and improved mental health and wellbeing across generations.

As part of doing a Master of Public Health, Nicky studied several social connectivity models from Scandinavia. Research has shown that these types of projects can improve wellbeing for older adults and increase social equity by allowing them to contribute value to society, she says.

“The young people can ask them questions and learn from their experiences, and we can rely on their expertise to improve outcomes for the project. It also helps increase physical activity for the older adults, who can walk to the restoration site, and it gives them a sense of purpose.”

The seedling project will also help the children and the older adults involved develop a sense of belonging to Rosedale Park, which is part of their community, she says.

“The social outcomes are as important as the ecological ones.”

The project will run again next year with a new group of Kristin School Year Two students. They will be supplied with manuka seedlings by Oliva Li, a Rangitoto College student and one of Te Hōnonga a Iwi’s youth leaders, who is growing the seedlings in a nursery she has set up at her house from seeds collected locally.

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