It’s the quiet moments in the afterglow of a hard day’s work that volunteer Mick Ingram enjoys the most.
“Sitting on the bank of the Ōpāwaho Heathcote, watching the birds come and go and finding rare plants as the health of the river returns – that’s the highlight for me,” Mick says.
From 18 to 24 June, it’s National Volunteer Week – Te Wiki Tūao ā-Motu. The focus this year is on honouring the collective energies and mana of volunteers around the country.
Volunteers contribute about 598,000 hours a year in all corners of Christchurch and Banks Peninsula, giving their time to make the district a better place to be.
Mick has been working with the Christchurch City Council for the last eight years.
Over that time he has worked tirelessly restoring Kennaway River Reserve along the right bank of the Ōpāwaho Heathcote River near its Woolston loop.
“This has involved removing boxthorn, gorse and broom, then revegetating the riparian zones and surrounding area with suitable native plants,” Mick says.
You might also find him working on a lizard sanctuary in conjunction with North Canterbury Forest and Bird and the Council to create a habitat for native skinks.
“I work with a small group of regular volunteers on Kennaway River Reserve, there are between three and eight of us,” he says.
“Plus a local business and local adventure therapy have helped out with half days.”
It can be hard work and Mick says he’s spent “many, many hours” on the end of a spade or down planting a seedling but the time is more than worth it.
“The revegetation has created areas where public can access and follow a river-side trail. During the lockdowns many 'family bubbles’ were able to walk and enjoy these special urban ecological areas, and they are continuing to do so! It is great to see.”
But Mick says he can’t do it all alone.
“There are two other key volunteers that have assisted to make things happen at the Kennaway River Reserve and they are Bruce Stanton and Ian McClymont. And of course various Christchurch City Council Community and Park Rangers. It takes a team effort to get things done.”
So would he recommend others spend some time volunteering?
“Yes, because this has helped better the city by rebuilding communities in earthquake recovery. It creates a sense of contributing to the area you live in,” Mick says.