From left: Leon Phillips, irrigation contractor; school principal, Robin Fabish; Colin James, forest designer.

Tamatea High School Matariki Ngahere (Forest) Legacy Project 

If you have walked through Tamatea High School grounds recently you will have seen a lot of activity on one of the two football fields. 

But no, it’s not a re-surfacing or upgrade, but preparation for the creation and planting of a native forest that will soon be bursting with kauri, rimu, totara, karaka, kawakawa, mahoe, kowhai, pōhutukawa, miro, puriri and nikau.

Tamatea High School has been awarded a Matariki Tu Rākau Grant to plant 2,600 trees and Rongoā Māori plants turning one of it football fields into a living memorial. On June 23 the school will combine is Matariki celebrations with a breakfast, blessing and major planting day. 

Matariki Tu Rākau grants are part of the NZ Forest Services’ One Billion Trees programme providing funds for people to plant living memorials that honour members of their communities. 

Headmaster Robin Fabish says Tamatea High School had two football fields and didn’t need them both. 

“So we decided on the forest to celebrate Matariki and commemorate Heitia and Marg Hiha who made significant contributions to our local community. 

“Heitia was the deputy principal at Wycliffe Intermediate, which was a feeder school for Tamatea High. He was a kaumātua of four local marae and gave many years of service to the Napier City Council in the role of kaumātua. He was also a Māori All Black and was awarded an ONZM. 

“As well as being a dedicated teacher, Marg Hiha played hockey for New Zealand and was recognised as a life member of Hockey NZ. She was also awarded an MNZM for service to sport.” A plaque will recognise the Hiha whanau.

Tamatea students have got in behind the ngahere project and the school, with help from the Matariki Grant,  has so far raised $26,000 of the total $40,000 required for power, irrigation, plants, protection, mulch and landscaping. 

“We are committed to raising the remaining amount and any contribution to this legacy project will be gratefully received,” says Robin. “Anyone in our community is welcome to join the planting or come along to look after.”

The planting day will involve the whole school and its 330 pupils as well as many people from the local hapū.

Colin James from Colin Friends Bush is helping with design of the forest. Plant Depot on Taradale Rd has helped with the sourcing of plants including seeds that descend from Tane Mahuta (Kauri in Northland). Napier City Council and Pan Pac have helped with irrigation and mulch. 

If you want to help Tamatea Highschool reach its goal of $40,000 for its Matariki Ngahere 



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