This time last year, The Trusts donated $5 for each vote for our project…which in our case added up to a whopping $85.125! It was an amazing start to our campaign to raise funds for our Sustainable Wetland Education Center. And one year on, we thought we should give you an update.

First of all, we had a couple of working bees to clear out the rubbish, weed the area around the barn and make it semi-safe to enter it… You wouldn’t believe the stuff we found! After that initial clean up, we used the barn for quite a while as storage for our tools, materials and equipment to build the nursery. We prioritized that to be able to grow the plants for our wetland, as we didn’t want to miss a planting season (winter). With help of many groups, we planted about 2000 plants to date and are growing double that number, hopefully ready to be planted coming winter.

It turned out to be a good choice, because it also gave us time to work with the Landscape Design faculty at Unitec. Their students and tutors visited Matuku Link several times, presenting their ideas on site as well as at Unitec. The third year students worked in teams and on individual presentations. We were blown away with the quality of their research, thinking and solutions they gave us, which form a solid base for all we will be doing on the property, in several stages.

We are currently working on Stage 1: making the barn habitable: cladding inside and out, installing a working and accessible toilet and a small kitchenette so we don’t have to disturb our tenant anymore at 9 am on Sunday mornings. The dirt floor of the open part of the barn was covered with gravel and walls of clear plastic now give groups shelter from the westerlies.  After removing some cladding on the interior, a wall of plywood was added as well, and more plywood will be used in the interior.

All of the materials will be screwed in only, and used as whole sheets wherever we can, so they will be able to be reused when we move towards Stage 2: a fully usable barn with insulation, windows, a hole-free roof and working doors, giving us the opportunity to add educational materials (stuffed native animals and pests as examples, posters on the walls, activity materials) and clean, dry, warm working space with a desk and computer for the educator/manager. During this stage we can start to raise the funds for the third and final stage of the project.

This will be Stage 3: the full implementation of the Master Plan for an accessible, sustainable wetland education center with wetland (board) walks, student/research accommodation and facilities for visitors. As in any good conservation project, the bar is set high, and our ambitions well exceed our current resources. We’re aiming to create a unique experience for visitors to our wetland, celebrating our New Zealand environment. And we hope many people will join us on the journey to help create this vision.

Thank you, Annalily van den Broeke and the Trustees of Matuku Link: Chad Wilkie, John Staniland, Geoff Davidson, John Sumich. 

But for now, many hands making light work, this is what we’ve done to the barn over the past 12 months: