Mt Tarawera Wilding Pine Day
By Anthony, age 9. Written 07.03.2020
At the bottom of Mt Tarawera, we had a powhiri with Tipene, our Maori guide, our bus driver, Wiremu, and Paul and Jake from the Department of Conservation. I did a hongi.
Tipene thought I would need to be carried out as I was the youngest ever volunteer at 9 years old. You normally have to be 14.
We took a four-wheel drive bus from Ash Pitt Reserve to the top of Mt Tarawera. Mt Tarawera is a volcano. It last erupted on the 10th of June 1886.
Mt Tarawera is still an active volcano.
We walked on the crater slopes of Ruawahia Dome to the Trig at 1,100m. The slopes were steep and slippy with lots of basalt scoria rocks.
We then walked down into one of the gullies, and there were lots of pine trees. The pine trees are not native, they are lodgepole pines (Pinus contorta). Because they are not supposed to be there they are also called wilding pines. They spread as seeds from forestry plantations.
The trees varied from 10cm to about 1.5m. They have been clearing pines since 2009. It has made a big difference. I wanted to go and help there so there would be native plants on Mt Tarawera and no pine trees.
We pulled up trees by hand and used a hand saw for the big trees we couldn’t pull up. Sometimes 3 or 4 people all pulled together. I pulled up about 200 pine trees. It was hot and very hard. I found a New Zealand praying mantis on a pine tree, and I put him on a native plant. It took us 6 hours to walk in, pull the pines and walk out.
We walked out on Wahanga slope on a razorback. A razor back is a a steep-sided narrow ridge of land. It was the best bit as it was very high with a big drop off. It was funny when you pushed rocks off, they went very fast and started bouncing high.
I found two special rocks. One was rainbow basalt and the other was melted rhyolite with red basalt stuck to it. Tipene blessed my rocks and named them Tarawera and Uenuku.
Tiepene was impressed with how strong I was. I was very proud and excited when we finished. I was energised up and had walked all the way.