In our five year plan we always had the aspiration to have a project manager or coordinator to help with funding applications, volunteer days, predator control, communications, visiting groups and all the other everyday jobs which require a bit more time than the average volunteer would want to spend… not that we have any average volunteers here, we only have amazing ones!

A certain virus changed it all: the lockdown created time for me to apply for funding, DOC created the “Jobs 4 Nature” scheme and we were asked by the Sustainable Business Network to join their bid. They were both succesful so since Spring 2020 we have three amazing employees working for us, coordinated by me as a contractor, supported by our trustees and many volunteers. It was a month of “firsts”: we became employers, learned how to do Xero and payrolls, made worlds best H&S document for boardwalk building and installed a phone and internet on site in case of emergencies and did all the other little things you suddenly need to do when you’ve got people on site full time (milk! tea! cake!)

Introducing the team: from left to right: Jeff Belt, Devon Bainbridge and Nic King – our new employees. And John Sumich, our fulltime volunteer overseeing all their work and coming up with new plans on a daily basis. 

And what a blessing it has been to have employees and for me to be able to dedicate the time to keeping it all going: we’re now five weeks in and the boardwalk is 80% finished and I’ve done three more funding applications, we’re planning group visits again and are increasing the habitat for our native species: a fish ladder to create access upstream from the culvert and a new pond for our pateke amongst other things. John continuously comes up with new plans to keep us going, the latest being a bird hide from recycled materials found on site, improved kauri dieback stations and a ‘meandering’ access to Poets Paths.

So here we are: 2020 turned out to be a lot better for Matuku Link than we thought it would when we went into lockdown last February. Let’s hope we keep this virus at bay so all of you can admire the progress at our Open Day coming February 2021.

Annalily & the trustees