Healthpost Nature Trust
Protecting Aotearoa’s Precious Taonga
As we headed up the cliffs of Cape Farewell, the northernmost point of the South Island, we couldn’t help but be blown away by the stunning landscapes that Golden Bay has to offer. From the patterned sand dune beaches to the arched white cliffs met by crashing waves, it really is a sight for sore eyes.
At Wharariki Ecosanctuary, located at the top of Cape Farewell, we met Lucy Butler: Sustainability Lead of HealthPost and a trustee of the HealthPost Nature Trust. Around 40 HealthPost workers and 20 community volunteers of the HealthPost Nature Trust were helping to plant 1,200 natives between the Ecosanctuary and Wharariki wetlands to give back to the community and restore biodiversity to the area.
The Ecosanctuary is a three-hectare restoration project that the HealthPost Nature Trust has been working on in collaboration with Department of Conservation and Manawhenua Ki Mohua – representing three local iwi. The overall aim is to bring seabirds back to the mainland, protecting colonies of tītī (sooty shearwater) and reintroducing other shearwater birds, providing a safe habitat for them.
“A stainless steel mesh fence is combined with steep cliffs to form a predator-proof perimeter. As we worked toward the translocation of 50 precious pākaha (fluttering shearwater) chicks last year, we decided that we needed to create another smaller fence within the Ecosanctuary to provide additional protection for these taonga (treasured possessions). That fence was made from Goldpine product and while it was being installed, our go-to project man Grant Williams made a connection with the fencers. From there, the Goldpine relationship was established,” Lucy commented.
HealthPost is a retail business based in Collingwood, Golden Bay and is one of the major suppliers of natural health products in New Zealand. The business has grown from strength to strength over the past 34 years and is the largest employer within the area. Originally founded by Lucy’s mother in 1988, HealthPost is not only an online retail store, but their Nature Trust also action the overall values of their business through their partnership projects, community work and charitable donations.
“I think we’re just getting to the point of maturity as a business. We’re really wanting to do something for this local community that has shown us so much support over the years and for the land that really is the basis for everything that we do. None of this would be possible without this beautiful nature that supports us. Living in a place like Mohua (Golden Bay), I think we're just really connected to that and really grateful for that,” Lucy said. Cape Farewell's picturesque landscape One of 1,200 natives planted Workers and volunteers hard at work.
Lucy has been involved with HealthPost and the Nature Trust for a long time. After receiving a PhD in Creative Arts from the University of Melbourne, Lucy returned to Golden Bay and has been working for the family business for the last 12 years. They have also been running their tree planting projects for 12 consecutive years and Lucy hasn’t missed one of them. This will be their third year planting at Wharariki Ecosanctuary where they plant a diverse range of natives, including kohekohe, kānuka, kawakawa and kahikatea – with cabbage trees and akeake planted in the past.
“We have a good mix of indigenous forests that will help provide habitat for the seabirds that we are translocating, with the hope they will return and create a colony here. It’s really unusual to have seabirds being able to nest in safety on the mainland, which is a big part and point of the project. Them returning supports other species, planting and invertebrates to be able to flourish as well. They return the fertility of the sea to the land which is pretty cool,” Lucy said.
She added, “It's pretty special because it's so regionally specific as well. All of the plants that we're planting have been raised for us by our nurseryman Nigel who just selects endemic species and gathers the seed from this area. It’s a really awesome way for us to connect with each other, the land and our sustainability work.”
“You gotta do what you gotta do, but there are different fence styles for different places. If you’re a contractor, you’d do things slightly differently – hand-digging like this. There’s a couple of things I’m not really happy about on the fence, but you just gotta deal with what you’ve got,” Cam said.
The working bee started with a welcome and health and safety induction before the team made their way up the hillside to reach the Ecosanctuary. The community volunteers had laid out 500 plants before everyone else arrived so that it was easier for people to start planting straight away. The day ended at the nearby wetlands where they finished planting 700 more natives. Some of the workers brought their families along with them which was pretty special to see.
The HealthPost Nature Trust do a lot of planting, pest trapping and have a great team of volunteers. They have a lot of exciting upcoming projects promoting biodiversity and protecting endangered species.
“Our vision is to have a lasting, positive impact on the well-being of people and the planet. That's something that we work towards in multiple ways. We do a lot with supply partners and influencing positive change in our industry: sustainable sourcing, transparency around ingredients and taking out unnecessary chemicals.
We've been doing that work for a really long time, as well as a bit of charitable giving to other conservation groups. We’re just wanting to give back and it's really just blown us away how many other people, from conservation experts around Aotearoa to local community members, have wanted to get on board and be part of building that energy – it's been really humbling,” Lucy said.
The Trust plans to bring another 100 pākaha birds over from the Marlborough Sounds. Lucy commends Nature Trust Coordinator Marian and her volunteers who have also put bird boxes in for the arrival of toanui (flesh-footed shearwater) birds that will be arriving from the North Island in the coming months. “It's a pretty big deal to take these precious taonga from the few places where they are thriving and try and re-establish colonies. But that also really spreads the risk, especially where there are just isolated pockets of these species, obviously very vulnerable to natural events or predation,” Lucy said.
Further plans are continuing to maintain and protect the local species that are found around the Golden Bay area, including little blue penguins, tītī birds, Nelson green gecko and the Powelliphanta snail. They also want to implement more fencing and predator work down the line.
“We're also supporting one other thing which is really cool, the blue carbon core sampling. Our project area encompasses 25% of our total seagrass meadows. There's increasing recognition of how significant that is for carbon sequestration. We're supporting work to gather some data on the significance of what we have here in this region for carbon impact as well. So, hopefully that will provide more opportunities for community engagement and understanding the value and opportunities to work toward restoring some of these fragile ecosystems,” Lucy highlighted.