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Hundreds of volunteers gathered at a Matariki community planting event at Manukau’s Totara Park last Friday. 

Auckland Mayor Phill Goff planted the millionth native tree, a puriri, fulfilling his 2016 election promise to plant one million native trees during his term.

The event is part of the million trees programme for greening Auckland by planting mostly native trees and shrubs across the region. 

The programme aims to offset carbon emissions, create more green spaces across the city and protect water quality by planting along waterways and coastlines. 

Healthy Families South Auckland Systems Innovator, Alex Whitcombe shared the significance of planting during Matariki with Mayor Phil Goff. 

“Matariki is a time to acknowledge those who have passed, celebrating the present and planning or in this case planting for the future. Gathering together in Totara park was much like the clustered stars in Matariki” 

Matariki is the star cluster that signals the Māori New Year which appears in the night sky during mid winter. Maramataka is the Maori lunar calendar, traditionally it is used as a guide for fishing and planting and is a good time to reflect, celebrate and plan for the future. 

The goal is to plant 70,000 trees during Matariki with the help of local community groups, mana whenua representatives and partners. 


Healthy Families South Auckland team had a chance to give back to Papatuanuku on Friday and went to work with shovels and spades planting over 200 native shrubs. 

“Ngā taonga tuku iho – we have been given the opportunity to plant at the headlands of Manukau which flow down to the Puhinui stream to the Manukau harbour, we may not be able to see the positive environmental impact this has right now, but our future generations will,” says Alex. 

To find out how you can get involved with the Matariki Planting Programme click here