Our road frontage is a mixture of tangled old fence and stunted misshapen Paulownia trees stretching along the edge of the large roadside drain. Dry in summer, the ground becomes extremely wet during winter as our small stream flows onto the flat land of the valley floor before spreading out to create seasonally wet and boggy soil.
Accordingly, along the wettest part of the road frontage we have chosen flax as the basis of a native planting and as with everything we want this planting to be multipurpose. Not only will a roadside planting improve the aesthetics, we want it to be a source of wildlife food so flax and cabbage trees will be both well suited to the ground conditions and they will provide nectar and berries for birds.
However, flax is also a valued resource for traditional Maori weaving so we approached the Uawanui Sustainability Project for help. With their assistance we now host flax plants that have been cultivated for their long broad blades that produce long fibres for weaving. Uawanui were looking for a suitable planting site away from the coast to ensure the fibre that is produced is soft and supple.
We felled and cleared the Paulownia trees and cleared the tangled rank grass. With the Uawanui environmental team we lifted and split several very large flax bushes before bringing them to Tane's Rest and planting them with lime and natural blood and bone fertiliser to help with their establishment. We now have two rows of flax that will grow and merge into a wall of flax as they mature.
We will plant cabbage trees behind them but most importantly the local weavers will be able to harvest the flax by simply stopping on the road and cutting the blades as and when they need them. We cannot think of a better example of a step on our journey from exploitation to sustainability than this one.
This blog is the ongoing story of our piece of paradise on the East Cape we have named Tāne's Rest. Visit our About pages to read more about our project, and feel free to leave a comment on any of our posts.
Uawa County existed for 45 years from 1 December 1918 to 1 April 1964 before merging with Cook County. Click on the map to download a copy.