Hidden in Otatara, an outer suburb of Invercargill you can find two hidden gems, the Southland Community Nursery owned andoperated by Chris and Brian Rance, and the Oreti Tōtara Dune Forest reserve. We were lucky to attend both for a seed collection wānanga and also to have been joined by Te Tapu o Tāne crew! Even if this reunion was short lived before parting ways for the day.
Left in the care of Chris Rance (Manager of the Southland Community
Nursery), our tauira begun the day in the nursery workshop with a
quick-fire round of introductions, then straight into it with a
slideshow. It showed locally sourced plant life found on Chris’s recent venture to Bluff, here she explained how to differentiate between the different
types of vegetation, their names, and what the seeds look like. We
gathered around the table, which had a variety of seed types ranging in
size, shape, and texture for the boys to investigate. Kaloni Taylor
extracted makomako (wineberry) seeds, and Raniera Smyth chose kōtukutuku
(tree fuchsia), which he instantly regretted because he said, “they
stunk”. Chris took the tauira for a walk through the nursery showing the growth of certain plants which were part of last years seed collection, and how their aim for the community garden is to conserve southlands threatened plant life. She then showed the tauira the transformation that her and husband Brian have undergone to restore paddocks back into native forest, the selection of plants used in this restoration from native trees, shrubs, and wetland species.