Project Ti Kouka

(Published on 3rd April 2012)

Project Ti Kouka is aimed at rejuvenating the iconic cabbage tree (cordyline australis), ensuring that it remains a characteristic feature over open farmland and around wetlands the length and breadth of New Zealand. Cabbage trees within our rural landscapes are usually well over a hundred years old and will have survived the fires that the early farmers used to clear the land. Subsequent stock grazing has largely prevented the establishment of new trees. This means that the old surviving trees are increasingly showing the effects of age and many are now heading into decline.

Publicity, with the aim of motivating landowners, is a key part of Project Ti Kouka. The underpining objective is to develop a cabbage tree culture amoung the New Zealand public, but especially rural land owners. This plant species has a special place in the emotions of Kiwis; we intend to capitalise on this.

The cabbage tree is an extraordinary and globally unusual plant which characterises our landscape. This major benefit underlines the uniqueness of NZs native flora and fauna, attracting tourists as well as enriching the lives of Kiwis. It will also add to native bird habitat, provide shade for livestock and the flowers are greatly favoured by bees.

An important aspect of the project is to develop effective means of establishing trees under the pressure of livestock grazing. Trials are being carried out at the On-Farm Research farm at Poukawa, south of Hastings. This includes electrified protection and experimenting with in situ establishment through pole planting, such as is commonly practiced with poplars and willows. Early indications are encouraging. A nursery is operated at the On Farm Research facility where trees are grown and gifted to landowners. Seeds are sourced from trees, indigenous to different regions around New Zealand and after propogation and growing-on are available to be returned to those regions.

Project Ti Kouka has been made possible by generous funding from 'eTree' an environmental programme run by Computershare, an Australian company specialising in distributing company annual reports by email. The project is the brainchild of Ewan McGregor, of Hawkes Bay. Funding assistance, was initiated by Rob Youl of Landcare Australia. Thanks should also go to Fiona Elworthy for her enthusiastic support and the prestige that she has brought to the project. Last but not least thanks to  On Farm Research who have made land available for the nursery and trials.

For further information contact Ewan McGregor




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