Bloomin’ gor­geous in Rakaia

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - FRONT PAGE - ERIN TASKER

An area of re­claimed riverbed has been trans­formed into a bloom­ing beau­ti­ful new ad­di­tion to the grow­ing Rakaia Walk­way.

The area was cov­ered in mas­sive, thick broom, gorse and black­berry when the Rakaia Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion (RCA) saw an op­por­tu­nity to turn it into a fea­ture part of the walk­way, and just a year after the project started the new vil­lage green’s true colours are shin­ing through.

The Rakaia Walk­way starts at Salmon Tales and runs be­hind Rakaia School. From there peo­ple had to walk down a sealed street to again meet up with the walk­way un­til the two hectare sec­tion of land be­side the Rakaia Re­cy­cling Park was trans­formed.

RCA chair­man Neil Pluck said with per­mis­sion from the Ash­bur­ton Dis­trict Coun­cil and ECan the RCA set about clear­ing the land – an ex­er­cise that came with a $16,000 bill footed by the RCA – and now it is cov­ered by a wide va­ri­ety clovers.

Pluck and Dorothy Knight have been the driv­ing forces be­hind the project, with Knight spend­ing count­less hours adding cof­fee grinds and pulling weeds. Rakaia School kids helped with plant­ing, and peo­ple serv­ing com­mu­nity work sen­tences also helped to make the gar­dens and with col­lect­ing stones from the river bed to make the walk­way and the river-stone bor­der.

Pluck said the project had of wild­flow­ers and re­ceived in­cred­i­ble sup­port from lo­cal busi­nesses and farm­ers who had lent ma­chin­ery and given their time. Help was al­ways wel­come and Pluck and Knight urged peo­ple us­ing the walk­way to jump in and pull weeds out if they saw them, to keep the gar­den in tip-top shape.

At the end of the day, Pluck said the gar­den was cre­ated on what was once a riverbed and the area was sandy. If not looked after, it could eas­ily go back to the over­grown mess it was be­fore.

‘‘In two or three years it will start to look after it­self and whether the wild­flow­ers will stay around for that long, who knows,’’ Pluck said.

‘‘Dorothy and I are at the coal­face of this but some­times I like to come down here and try and be a stranger and you come over the rise and think ‘wow, this is quite cool re­ally’.’’

The Rakaia Walk­way first be­gan around a decade ago and has grad­u­ally grown to what is now a 7km walk out and back.

ERIN TASKER/STUFF

Neil Pluck and Dorothy Knight at the new sec­tion of the Rakaia Walk­way.

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