The Community Work Teams, comprising people in Department of Corrections’ care who are serving community-based sentences, were unable to work at Lake Ruatuna during the COVID-19 lockdown, but over the last few weeks they’ve ramped up their efforts
Lake Ruatuna is one of the network of peat lakes just south of Hamilton and has been the focus of significant long-term restorative effort from the local community, schools and the Corrections Community Work Teams.
Several teams from Hamilton and Te Awamutu have been on site over the last few weeks powering into the work sometimes in pretty miserable winter conditions.
“The lake is also one of the key North Island sites for the Department of Conservation-Fonterra Living Water partnership, so maintaining momentum has been a key factor is getting the teams back to site,” says Living Water Ranger Dion Patterson.
“Nearly 2,000 native trees have been planted following the removal of large strips of the pest plant privet,” he says. “This has had the teams busy putting in new plantings and shifting nearly 50 cubic metres of mulch around them to supress weed regrowth.”
Having access to the Community Work Teams has also allowed the start of building the accessways for a proposed new pā harakeke (flax bush plantation) and rongoā (medicinal) garden along with a proposed building that could act as a wānanga, classroom for schools and presentation centre.
While proposed gardens and learning centre concept is being developed and costed, the first 13 of 26 tonnes of track metal have been laid.
Dion Patterson values what the partnership with Corrections can bring to the table.
“The Living Water Partnership with Fonterra and the Good to Grow partnership with Corrections has meant we have been able to really accelerate the work at the lake. We’ve had fantastic buy-in from Waipā District Council, the community, local landowners and stakeholders to create a true heritage project that will benefit the community for decades to come.”
Corrections Central Regional Commissioner Terry Buffery says meaningful projects like this help the people in Corrections’ care with their rehabilitation and reintegration.
“We understand the importance of environmental sustainability and are incredibly proud to be working alongside DOC to help restore and maintain this site.”
“DOC staff have valuable knowledge and experience they share with the community work teams,” he says. “This knowledge and experience translate to skills that benefit the people in our care, their families and the community, as well as making DOC sites more enjoyable for all New Zealanders.”