Tupu-ā-nuku above, trees below

By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

The South Auckland community is planting trees at the launch of Matariki Tū Rākau- the government's community-focused commemorative tree planting initiative, part of the One Billion Trees Programme.

Tupu-ā-nuku in the heavens, trees on the land.  400 native trees planted at Totara Park in Auckland to commemorate the Māori New Year.

A time to remember those who have gone and a time to encourage the growth of a new generation.

This is the first of the community planting initiatives under the government's scheme. 35,000 will be planted across the country. 

"This is exactly what we wanted to see under the One Billion Trees project...planting native trees is something I want to see across the country," says Labour MP Meka Whaitiri.

The government has set a goal to plant one billion trees over 10 years to reduce the effects of climate change, diversify income and tackle environmental issues. 

Whaitiri says, "It does create jobs, it meets our climate change challenge but it's also culturally and socially strengthening of communities and that's what we see here."

These children are more than happy to get their hands dirty for the cause.