Pukemokemoke’s Friends of the Reserve manager Alan Leadley is chuffed.
One of his youngest volunteers, Mantez Singh-Thandi has gained his Silver Duke of Edinburgh Hillary Award incorporating his community work for the 40-hectare bush reserve.
Mantez is a keen, hard worker, Alan says. “Like the rest of his family. They live out at Scotsman’s Valley, and every time we have a working bee at Pukemokemoke, they are there. Always. His mother Harpal, who is a well-known GP, brings not only her son Mantez, but his cousin. Harpal’s sister lives out at Te Aroha, and they also come. They’re just wonderful.”
The project Mantez was involved with for his Hillary Award was planting native trees along the rugged north-east ridge, which was no small task.
“Once the pine trees were removed, a lot of weeds came in along the edges. Things like privet, ragwort and pampas. We had a team of about 10 involved, and Mantez was lugging plants up there – it is very steep – and digging holes. We managed to plant most of the area. I was up there yesterday and it’s looking very good.”
Having young people lending support to such projects is important. “Most of the volunteers, frankly, are retired like me. So when we get young volunteers, it’s great for everyone. The oldies all like the young people, and vice versa, and we work alongside each other, spanning the generations, sharing wisdom. It’s good for conservation.”