Human Rights Commissioner Meng Foon will join Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) Mayor Jim Boult and local migrant families for a ceremonial tree planting event in Whakatipu-wai-Māori (Queenstown) on Saturday, October 10.
Led by environmental charity Trees That Count, the new ‘Welcome Forest’ will be located at Jardine Park and attendees will plant the first 1000 native trees as a way to honour newcomers and migrant families in the Whakatipu area.
Boult said establishing the new native forest comes at a fitting time for migrant communities.
“This is an extremely challenging time for many, and our migrant families have been some of the worst affected by the impacts of COVID-19,” Boult said.
“We want them to know they’re a valued part of our community and that this is their whenua, and we hope this Welcome Forest will help deepen their connection to Queenstown for generations to come.”
Boult said the Jardine Park site offers some of the region’s most stunning views, with clear sightlines to the Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu.
“As the new forest grows, we’ve made sure the views will still be accessible through walkways and well-positioned viewing points. We want this to be a place where all of our community feels welcome to come with friends and family, to relax and take in the beauty of our region.”
Operating as kaitaiki (caretakers) for the new trees is Wakatipu Reforestation Trust, a volunteer group already making huge inroads to restoring biodiversity and wildlife corridors in the region by planting a staggering 40,000 native trees — helped with the support of Trees That Count who runs New Zealand’s only native tree marketplace.
The first 1000 native trees for the Welcome Forest have been generously funded through the Trees That Count marketplace by funder Z Energy, who recently launched an Anti-Racism Pledge with other large local retailers to support the Human Rights Commission’s ‘Give No Voice to Racism’ campaign.
The Queenstown Forest is one of four Welcome Forests spearheaded by charity Trees That Count, with another three located in Canterbury, Auckland and Wellington.
Read edition 992 of the Wānaka Sun here.