More than 70 student leaders, parents and link teachers undertook a guided walk through the beautiful Dunedin Town Belt on Sunday 18th February as part of the student led Town Belt Education Initiative. With a welcome from the Mayor, the group undertook an 8.5 kilometre walk from Woodhaugh Gardens to the Southern Cemetery. Along the way the group heard short presentations from a range of experts in history, heritage, biodiversity, ecology and communication.
The Town Belt Education Initiative is a collaborative partnership between the Amenities Society, Department of Conservation, Otakou & Puketeraki Runaka, the Dunedin City Council and schools. The aim of the project is to develop a student led education programme using the Town Belt as backdrop, laboratory and classroom. There are no limitations on the potential of the project in many curriculum areas including science, art, language, history and technology. The walk on Sunday was to give students and teachers inspiration and ideas about how the Town Belt can be part of their learning. It is also an opportunity for students to show leadership and to become the future stewards of this very special place in Dunedin.
A great deal of credit in the running of this project must go to Claudia Babirat, who has the task of coordinating the various aspects of this project together for the Society and its partners. As more schools come on board with the initiative we hope that the project will grow and we will see new and exciting developments evolve from the students. (Click on the pictures to view in a larger format)
For three days Craigieburn was alive with the excitement and chatter of the Pakiki Kids visiting the site and learning more about its history as a special place in Dunedin’s cultural and biodiversity heritage. Pakiki Kids is a weekly extension programme for intellectually and creatively gifted children in Dunedin from Years 3-8. The programme is governed and managed by Dunedin North Intermediate School. Under the supervision of teacher Brendan Christie, Society President Paul Pope and faithful canine mascot Toby the group looked at the archaeology, history and biodiversity of the Craigieburn site. It was a hands on opportunity to get out into the bush and feel the atmosphere of Craigieburn. With such a youthful and enthusiastic group the questions and queries came thick and fast. Luckily Brendan and Paul were well supported by a number of parents and of course had all of the answers! Great visit Pakiki Kids.
Its time to get your walking shoes on again and explore one of Dunedin’s great natural and historical landscapes. The Town Belt Traverse is an 8.2 kilometre from the Southern Cemetery to Woodhaugh Gardens taking in the heart of the Dunedin Town Belt on Sunday 29th March. The great thing about it is its absolutely free!
The route is a pram friendly event for people of all ages stopping off at five points along the way. Participants will receive a map and ticket at the car-park inside the Southern Cemetery. The traverse starts at between 10-10.30 am and all participants must complete the traverse by 1.30. Collect a stamp at all five marshal points and you can be eligible for some great local prizes. The route is marked and there will be marshals at road crossing points along the way.
The Dunedin Town Belt is one of New Zealand’s oldest reserves and plays a special part in the physical and historic landscape of Dunedin. It has a rich history that dates back to the planning of Dunedin before settlers arrived here in 1848. The Town Belt covers 203 hectares and includes the two historic cemeteries and the Botanic Gardens. With its extensive parkland and forest remnants it creates a green corridor through the heart of the city.
Today the Town Belt is an important recreational and ecological asset for the city and provides invaluable habitat for kereru, bellbird, tomtit, tui, rifleman, morepork, and shining cuckoo. The vegetation is an eclectic mix of exotics that dominates the southern area of the ‘belt to the more kanuka and fuchsia dominated ridges and gullies of the northern areas. At Woodhaugh an old stand of kahikatea remains as a reminder of a significant wetland forest that once stood there.
For the Dunedin Amenities Society the protection and enhancement of the Town Belt was the beginning of its foundation in 1888. The Society was founded through the energy of Thomas Brown and Alexander Bathgate to protect, enhance and promote Dunedin’s landscape and biodiversity. The Town Belt Traverse is your opportunity to explore through a self guided walk one of New Zealand’s great reserve sites.
The outstanding views from Admiral Byrd’s lookout at Unity Park
Walking through Jubilee Park (Thomlinson’s Paddock) the site of the foundation of the Society and a temporary camp for miners on their way to the goldfields
Serpentine Avenue where toitu stream once flowed
Learn about the old tram line running through Robin Hood Park from the High Street cable car group.
Learn more about the cosmos from the Beverly-Begg Observatory
Take a free visit the gardens and grounds of the Olveston stately home
Experience the lushness of the fuchsia dominated forest of Queens Drive to Cosy Dell
Hear local poets perform at the Clear in honour of Charles Brasch at Prospect Park
Enjoy lunch at the old wetland forest remnant at Woodhaugh (Free BBQ supplied)
Get a kowhai seed kit and learn more about Project Gold in the Town Belt
What to Bring
Comfortable walking shoes
A warm jacket (you won’t need it because it’ll be warm and sunny!)
A drink and a snack for energy (we have a chocolate bar to get you started)
Your inquisitive nature
Your friends and family (dogs on leads thanks)
A costume (you might win a prize)
You can use the Normanby bus from opposite Woodhaugh to return to your vehicle at the Southern Cemetery. Check out the bus timetable here.
The Town Belt Traverse Route
The Town Belt Traverse follows the red line on the map from the historic Southern Cemetery to Woodhaugh Gardens. You can find out more about the unique features of the ‘Belt by clicking on the icons of the map and enlarging it with your mouse. This map is interactive and can be used on a smart-phone.
Students from the Otago Polytechnic Arboriculture course completed the planting work at the Robin Hood lookout today. Fifteen students and their two tutors planted over 200 native plants as part of the Dunedin Amenities Society’s upgrade of the lookout area. With the removal of sycamore and other weeds from the site the view across the city and Otago Harbour has been restored. In 1954 a direction finder and plinth was installed at the area to commemorate the Queens visit to the city. Over the years this once popular spot had become overgrown and the viewing site lost and the direction finder damaged. With work from Dunedin City Council and Taskforce Green the vegetation and seating area was cleared and cleaned. A generous donation by local stonemason, Marcus Wainwright saw the plinth and direction finder repaired. Delta replaced the vandalised seats that had originally been placed on the site to commemorate former Society members George Simpson and Kathleen Gilkison.
Working in a great backdrop
In 2013 the Dunedin Amenities Society received an anonymous bequest of $5000, and the Society put that generous gift into restoring this area. The Society will also have the popular walking track from the lookout to the Observatory at the top of Robin Hood Park refurbished to make access easier and safer.It was a pleasure to have the students on site today and their hard work and enthusiasm is much appreciated by the Society. It’s great to have young people using their skills and energy to make the Town Belt and our city a better place. (Click on the pictures to view)
It was a welcome sight to see the sun shining brightly this morning after the rain, hail and snow that Dunedin has experienced recently. Otago Polytechnic Horticulture students with tutor Lisa Burton and Project Manager Paul Pope were at Craigieburn today undertaking their 20th year of native tree planting together. Since 1994 the horticulture students have planted around 12,000 – 13,000 trees to create a unique and flourishing new piece of native forest that compliments the existing rimu forest remnant.
Today, the students planted 200 trees, filling in a few gaps in the already well established planting that has taken place in the western paddock of Craigieburn. The Dunedin Amenities Society have been well supported by the Otago Polytechnic Horticulture course at Craigieburn and their enthusiasm for the area and the work of the Society is greatly heartening. Importantly too, its great to be able to show the students the benefits of habitat restoration and to be able to show them the work of their peers. It was also good to have new Craigieburn Committee member Councillor Aaron Hawkins come along and see first hand the importance of the partnership the Society has with the Polytechnic. Once again many thanks to students today and to all of the students who have contributed to Craigieburn over the past 20 years, your enthusiasm and hard work is valued and much appreciated. (Click on the pictures to see the images in a viewer)
American writer Bill Bryson said “I see litter as part of a long continuum of anti-social behaviour” and in Dunedin we have our share of anti social people who through either laziness or ignorance tarnish our city’s reputation and visual appearance. This was the topic of discussion amongst City Councillors recently when faced with some rather graphic images of the state of cleanliness of our streets. While the contractual arrangements made by the Council were also reported it seems that Councillors had mixed responses to the problem and sought more information from Council staff. Perhaps its simply a matter of generating a wider level of civic pride amongst the community to ensure that the issue does not continue to raise its dirty head in the public arena further. What is clear is that the problem of street and landscape cleanliness is something that has been an on-going issue throughout the City at various times. Organisations such as Keep Dunedin Beautiful have worked tirelessly on public education, community programmes and city awards since 1967. With the passing of the Litter Act in 1979 and the establishment of Keep New Zealand Beautiful the group now has a national organisation for support and advocacy.
One of the issues that came out of the recent City Council discussions was the role of Council in enforcing litter provisions. The Council have far-reaching (but largely unused) powers for the policing and enforcement of litter control on private and public land under the provisions of the Litter Act 1979. There is also provision for the development of bylaws, the warranting of Council staff to act as Litter Control Officers and the issuing of infringement notices. While education and the development of civic-minded culture of citizens in our community is the most desirable outcome to keep our city clean and litter free, the use of these provisions could be undertaken in the most blatant and serious cases. For example the fine for depositing litter in a public place by an individual can be up to $5,000. Another issue that has often been raised regarding the University area is the menace of broken glass in the streets. The Litter Act 1979 allows for 1 months imprisonment or a fine of $7,500 for anyone wilfully breaking glass in a public place. These enforcement provisions should be part of the City Council’s toolbox in their efforts to keep our city clean and its community’s safe from this problem.
Overseas research on littering shows that the reasons for littering are more complicated than simple laziness or apathy. Many human factors determine or influence littering behaviour including, the socio-economic conditions of towns and suburbs, gender (males litter more than females) and age (younger people tend to litter more). Other physical factors also determine littering behaviour including the type and availability of rubbish bins in urban or rural settings and even the packaging type of products people buy may influence their choice to litter or not. Whatever the reason for littering many people in our community find it unacceptable in their streets and environs. Dunedin needs to use a combination of active enforcement, education, civic pride, investment and strategic thinking to make a positive change in our town. We cannot rely on the goodwill of volunteers to do the dirty work, all citizens must share the littering load.
Children supporting Keep NZ Beautiful after a local clean up in their area
The Dunedin Amenities Society are to work in partnership with the Department of Conservation and Dunedin City Council on the “Project Gold” initiative in the Dunedin Town Belt. The Society have agreed to contribute $1500 per annum for the next 5 years for suitable kowhai planting projects in the Town Belt. The planting projects will assist in adding new areas of the endemic kowhai important for wider bird feeding and connectivity in the reserve. Project Gold is a Department of Conservation initiative to promote the growth of locally important kowhai around Otago. The Society sees the project as having good connections with its interest in the management and restoration of the Town Belt habitat. It also provides opportunities for schools and community groups to participate in a joint conservation project that is in their own backyard. An official announcement and project start will be in October this year. The first planting will be held in August 2015 to coincide with the original August 8th date of Arbor Day created by Society co-founder Alexander Bathgate in 1892.