Putting the hard graft in: One millionth plant for Te Ahu a Turanga


The Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway project has planted its one millionth native plant - a manoao (silver pine).

In May, the third season of planting at the project site kicked off, including planting natives alongside the new highway alignment.

Planting technician Louie Trasporto had the honour of putting the one millionth plant in the ground during a ceremony to mark the milestone at the project site on Friday.

The landscaping team aims to plant more than 1.8 million plants across the duration of the project.

Most of the planting to date has occurred at locations away from the highway, however much of the focus in this third season is on planting near the road.

Louie, who is employed by Evergreen Landcare, was selected because he is one of the longest serving planters on the project - having been with the team since construction began in early 2021.

It is estimated he has planted close to 120,000 plants over this time.

“It’s a great honour and a privilege to be part of this grand architecture,” says Louie.

“For everyone who’s involved in this project, reaching this milestone is a great achievement for it’s not only a legacy we’re going to leave here today, but also a seed for future generations to come.”

Planting generally takes place during the wetter winter months, as this provides the best possible conditions for the plants. But, as Louie can attest to, it’s not the easiest working environment for him and his colleagues.

“It’s a grueling job but it has a sense of accomplishment once you see the plants grown, and a sense of fulfillment also to see if they flourish by the end of the project.” 

Waka Kotahi Te Ahu a Turanga project spokesperson Grant Kauri says reaching this impressive milestone is testament to the extremely hard work of the landscaping team.

“Our landscapers work in extremely tough conditions. They’re out on site in the wind, mud and rain but despite this adversity, they’ve still managed to put thousands of plants in the ground each week.

“They do a very difficult job requiring grit and persistence, but it’s enabling us to meet our intention of minimising the inevitable environmental impact of the construction process.

“One of the project’s principles is to tread lightly on the land – this means we do our best to protect the environment near the highway, and the extensive planting programme helps us achieve that.”

The planting of the millionth plant puts the project at just over the half-way point for its landscaping programme of about 1.8M plants.

In addition to planting, landscaping teams conduct maintenance of planting sites to ensure the newly planted trees and shrubs thrive. They also install fencing to protect some planted areas, and conduct pest control throughout the region.

More information about the landscaping and the wider project