Wānaka Sun       

Our local seed-loving “good sort”

Posted at 6:00am Thursday 31 Dec, 2020 | By Jo Galer newsdesk@thewanakasun.co.nz

Andrew Penniket, who this year retired as manager of Wānaka community-based native plant nursery, Te Kākano Aotearoa Trust, has left an impressive legacy on habitat restoration over more than a decade, according to his peers.


The Trust specialises in propagating plants of local origin  from the Upper Clutha region and using them for native habitat restoration in the Wānaka area, while working with local community groups, schools, organisations and businesses. This year alone the Trust and volunteers planted almost 4000 native trees and shrubs in the Upper Clutha basin.


Before Christmas, a gathering of about 50 people at Rippon Hall acknowledged and

thanked Andrew and his family for their tireless efforts. Penniket was Te Kākano's nursery manager for 12 years and retired at the start of 2020. 


He collected seeds and cuttings from local native species to grow at Te Kākano's nursery. 


“Penniket planted and nurtured tens of thousands of seeds with passion, welcomed hundreds of people at the nursery, poured thousands of litres of strong coffee at nursery and planting sessions and shared his encyclopaedic knowledge with many people,” said Loran Verpillot, Trust Administrator.


“He has been instrumental in Te Kākano's success, but has also contributed hugely to local biodiversity and habitat restoration.”


Penniket said he found the work immensely rewarding and it had been a privilege working with the volunteers.


“ There have been some fantastic people over the years,” he said. 


“Seeing the changes around the lake shore and around Stoney Creek has been really rewarding – a few little plants are turning into a real habitat. There are bellbirds and tui there now. It's been a great time and I plan to continue volunteering.”


He added that the biggest challenges over the past decade were rabbits and drought. But the

red beech forest at Glendhu Bay was his pride and joy. 


“And along the millennium track those plantings are really taking off,” he said.


Penniket encouraged locals to get involved, either by becoming a volunteer or just helping with watering. 


“Along the lake track there's lots of volunteering you can do. When you're out for your

evening stroll, stop at the blue barrels along the track and just do some watering as you walk along.”


The celebration at Rippon was also about the community saying thank you to the wider Penniket family for their work benefitting the local environment.


“As Wānaka newbies ten years ago and recently arrived from Wellington we ventured out seeking friendship and worthwhile volunteer opportunities,” said one of Te Kākano's volunteers at the event.


“At the nursery, fostered by your generosity of spirit and low-key approach, we discovered satisfaction and purpose in volunteering for the environment, and friendship from you and other like-minded souls. We welcome the chance to publicly salute Andrew and Sue for the warm, open and positive impact you had on us and our appreciation of life in Wānaka”.


Kris Vollebregt has taken over the role and welcomes all new volunteers.

Read edition 1007 of the Wānaka Sun here. 


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