14 Dec 2020

Planting for posterity

From Here Now, 9:00 am on 14 December 2020

In 2006 when Thomas and Mahrukh Stazyk bought the 24 hectare property overlooking the Kaipara Harbour, it was disused and bare pasture land. 

14 years later, today, the property is covered in thriving young native bush and bird song is everywhere. 

How did this couple manage to regenerate this mini-forest and why? 

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Mahrukh, originally Parsee from India, and Tom, American, were both accountants and chose to settle in New Zealand in 2003 after their career had them living all over the world.

Cue Haven as the property is called - Cultivating understanding and enlightenment for short - is about bring people together to create something in nature. The trees are protected in perpetuity with a QEII Open Spaces Trust covenant, planted for posterity. 

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Photo: RNZ/Dan Cook

Since 2008 more than 170,000 trees have been planted here with the help of nearly 4000 volunteers and pro bono support of all manner. Four kilometers of walking tracks too have been painstakingly made throughout the property. 

From engineers to ecologists, patrons and donors, local hapu to migrant community groups - Mahrukh says none of this would have ever materialized without their help.

In 2017, the land was given to a trust thereby effectively becoming the community's. 

The viewing platform at Cue Haven

The viewing platform at Cue Haven Photo: RNZ/Dan Cook

On 11 Dec, last week - a massive professionally built viewing platform was blessed and unveiled - Te Rite o Taranaki - named after the maunga behind the property, Taranaki which is significant to the local hapu, Ngati Rongo of Ngati Whatua.

The land has two historic pa sites, says Mahrukh as she explains the original layout through copies of some archival Crown purchase-documents.

Local hapu Ngati Rongo at the blessing of the platform

Local hapu Ngati Rongo at the blessing of the platform Photo: RNZ/ Kadambari Gladding

The unveiling of the platform now sets the tone for the couple's efforts to prepare Cue Haven to be open to the public throughout the year - which means adding in facilities and building a proper car park.

For now, volunteers continue to pour in, Colombian, Taiwanese, Indian community groups often come to conduct memorial tree plantings or help maintain the tracks and vegetation. Te Reo classes get held once a week and corporate groups regularly come together to help with more planting.