Paremata Flats Planters take the cake

Scroggin slice has become legendary at Paremata Flats planting days. As a fledgling conservationist it’s good to find out what is behind the sheer guts and determination of the ‘mature’ workforce that planted the thousands of natives. Love of nature? Doing good deeds? Ian Prices enthusiasm? No – Scroggin Slice all the way.

Paremata Planting Scroggin Slice

  • 3 cups Rolled Oats
  • ½ cup brown sugar (original recipe said 1 cup)
  • 120 gms melted butter
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 250 gm chocolate chips
  • Chopped nuts, dried fruit, seeds, coconut (whatever you’ve got)

Mix together oats, sugar, flour, baking powder add melted butter and press into baking tin so mixture is about ½ – ¾ inch deep.

Drizzle condensed milk over the top to cover the base

Sprinkle chocolate nut mixture over press lightly.

Bake at 180 C for about 30 mins until golden. (don’t overcook – sometimes it’s a good idea to cover top with tin foil near end of cooking so that base cooks without burning goodies on top)

Allow to cool a little before cutting into squares.

Esplanade Restoration Nelson inspires ‘Fledgling Environmentalists’

If predictions are accurate, it is total defeat that awaits esplanade restoration projects. Rising sea levels could drown them all. Most of us may never have started, or would have walked away by now but co-ordinator of the Paremata Flats restoration Mr Ian Price did neither. Not only has he rolled his sleeves up and got stuck in, his commitment, has magnetised an increasing number of loyal volunteers. Taking a stand and fighting for the environment he has attracted, criticism, fierce opposition, watered down support from council, and even sabotage.

The co-coordinator is – The Man in the Environmental Arena in the Nelson Region.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
From Theodore Roosevelts speech “Citizenship in a Republic”. It was delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, on April 23 1910.

With the threat of defeat in the future, substantial use of his own resources and not one cent of payment this environmental behemoth ‘strives valiantly’ to give natures cycle of regeneration a hand up.

Unknowingly he inspires naïve environmental fledglings across the Nelson region to sit up, take notice and venture into the environmental arena alongside him.

Plant a tree with your ‘Grandies’

A little girls pale face suddenly appeared in the corner of my kitchen window. She scared the hell out of me and she giggled when she saw me jump. ‘Miss Harriet’, my neighbour’s grandchild (here for the holidays) informed me with a swish of her ponytail, “I’m 5 and a ¼ and I’m going shopping with Nanny.”

At Harriet’s age I learnt two important truths about money;

The lesson began in the little local post office. The woman behind the counter emptied my small piggy bank, counted out my ‘thruppences’ and put them in her drawer. She tossed my piggy bank into the rubbish bin and said “You won’t be needing that now that you’re so grown up you can have a savings book.”

I didn’t fully understand the concept of still having money but not be able to hold it. I wanted my pig back but was too shy to ask for it. I would have liked to scare her for taking all my money and my pig (like Harriet had done to me) but instead I did the meanest thing I could think of at five years old. When she wasn’t looking I poked my tongue out at her.

I sneaked into my sister’s room when I got home and took her big yellow plastic piggy bank. It was heavy and I needed both arms to hold it, but I dragged it all the way back into the furthest corner of my room, underneath the bed. I hid in the shadows clutching this pig fully believing that I had all the money in the world and no one would ever find me. Not ever!

The sad truth emerged, no one missed me, no –one missed the pig and eventually hunger drove me out.

‘The pig incident’ taught me that you can’t eat money and it’s not much fun all by yourself even if you’ve got an entire ‘pig full’ of it.

Bring your five year old Grandchildren out to Paremata Flats Reserve next holidays, they can invest in the environment and their future simply by planting an eco-sourced native tree. Its easy digging, it’s all flat, there’s great picnic spots, it’s only 20 minutes’ drive from Nelson city and you won’t have to empty your piggy bank to do it!

There’s something in the water

This restoration project is perfect for fledgling environmentalist’s to learn about the importance of waterways. Paremata Flats Esplanade Reserve snuggles up to the Delaware estuary which is created by the Wakapuaka river flowing into the sea near Cable Bay Nelson.

Water is life, and Delaware estuary, which abuts the reserve edge is considered regionally important because of its unmodified state. (Esplanade & Foreshore Reserves Management Plan 2008)

I watched a movie last night about water. The subtitle was – “There’s something in the water”

The ‘something’ was meant to make people wealthy but it made the water undrinkable.

The documentary Gasland, shows people in America setting fire to gas in the water flowing from the tap in their kitchen sink. It’s a result of fracking in their area. The people, their animals and the environment are all getting sick. Headaches, loss of taste, loss of smell, breathing difficulties, but also seriously sick like brain tumours, wells exploding, animals losing hair, chemical dumps.

I’m a little embarrassed to see that it’s taken me until now to comprehend the full impact of fracking on earth’s water systems. Law changes made fracking possible in America back in 2005!

This appears to be a movie about Gas corporations in ‘cahoots’ with Government making money through the exploitation of natural resources with property owners left as the victims.

But really it’s a movie about humanity’s insatiable appetite for more at the expense of earth’s ecosystems.

Gas corporations offered money in exchange for the lease and right to drill for gas on individual’s property. ($4, 750 per acre in one example)

Ordinary people like you and me took the money.

Why they took the money in the first place was not covered in the film.

People now want back what they say the gas companies have ruined. Simple pleasures, – their sense of taste, a pain free head, a glass of fresh clean drinkable water.

One woman said “A dollar bill cannot bring back what they have taken away”

But hang on a minute, did they hold a gun to her head and force her to agree? No, they merely dangled several thousand dollar bills in front of her until she picked up a pen and signed away rights to frack the earth where she lived.

Not one of the many people interviewed in the movie said; “The dollar bills I took can never bring back what I gave up for money

Heads up fellow fledglings!

The REAL moral of this movie: Beware of your own insatiable appetite for more and take responsibility for however that manifests in your life.

There’s something in our water alright. Our very life is in our water. The earth needs environmental custodians with ‘insatiable immunity’. Where can we be inoculated against greed?

A perfect place for a fledgling like me is the relatively original state of Delaware Estuary on the edge of Paremata Flats Reserve. Maybe it’s perfect for you too?


‘10 and 2’ the position my hands were in on the steering wheel as I drove to ‘the scene’ to be grid searched.

‘10 and 2’ nap times for young and old alike!

‘10 and 2’ – The start and finish time for weeding at Paremata Flats Reserve on Saturday the 11th July.

I got the email with instructions on what to bring and I was equipped; Boots – check, trowel – check, gloves – check. Bugger, – forgot my water bottle. Not telling what time I got there but let’s just say I was later than 10 but enough before 2 to be useful. The only sign of action as I pulled through the gate off Maori Pa Road into the reserve was a long row of cars lined up on the emerald green paddock. It looked as if the drivers were waiting for a green starter’s flag to begin a race.

I snuck my car in the line of empty cars next to a bicycle lying flat with helmet, gloves and gear tossed beside it. The Reserve is only 25 km from Nelson– “A good training run” the young handsome cyclist told me later when I met him searching amongst the Ribbonwood. (Plagianthus regius)

‘Grid searching’ – sounds a bit exotic for a sleepy Saturday afternoon in sunny Nelson. Leaping out of my car I got kitted up and ready to ‘crack on’ but I was struck motionless by the peace and quiet,- and by the fact there was not a human being in sight!

The email mentioned a kissing gate (does grid searching include kissing?) I’m about to find out I guess, – I walked toward the only gate I could see. I stroll alongside a creek with mature natives overhanging it. A fantail swooped down to greet me, escorting and welcoming the late comer, so close it almost landed on my boots.

To my left I can see knee high baby native trees (planted in April May this year), on my right near the road there are shoulder high natives planted in 2014. Above me in the Kowhai trees are 3 fat Wood Pigeon’s. (Kereru), (Shh, . . . don’t tell Sonny Tau) Tui’s chortle and squawk from across the creek.

Human’s laughter and chortles carry on the still winter air and I come across a couple of people weaving and manoeuvring through the flax and trees by the creek. Spades, grubbers, and trowels are being wielded by about 15 people who’re dealing to any old man’s beard and blackberry seedlings in their path. I happily join the grid and meet the cyclist and newcomer to Nelson keen on conservation. I explain, a little embarrassedly that I’m a newbie to the whole thing.

I learn that weed control is the unattractive cousin to the more glamorous tree planting days in autumn but it’s fundamental to the success of a restoration project. The Fern Birds (nationally endangered) are calling throughout the afternoon as we continue to line up, set off and search for weeds in a grid. My gridline was occasionally haphazard, due to fascinating conversations (native mistletoe, weasels, saline friendly species) but I felt steadfastly salubrious as the birds cheered us all on.

2.00 – the searching stops for today. We wander away from the bird’s home escorted again by fantails. Grid searching is far more restorative than it sounds. Maybe it’s the peacefulness of Paremata Reserve, the people, or it being so well organised.

I can’t say what it was like at 10 but by 2 it was sunny, serene, still and, . . . spacious, yes that’s it, it’s spacious. You can breathe all the way out and relax at Paremata. I linger to take it in.

The young cyclist was back in Nelson before my car even left the start line.

The Fledgling Conservationist

So what is a Fledgling conservationist?

Most of us know that a fledgling is a young bird that has just grown to the point of having wings that are developed enough for flight.

A person who is a fledgling is inexperienced or underdeveloped in some way. On the positive they are emerging, beginning or arising in some aspect.

I am a fledgling conservationist because through life until recently my total focus has been human fledglings that I was responsible for. I’ve donated money to various conservation efforts and protested a couple of times over the years but since my last fledgling literally flew out of the country I’ve decided to ‘come out’ as an inexperienced and underdeveloped environmentalist.

And to be honest it’s a bit scary. I really do know so little and it feels safer to not get involved for fear of being laughed at for some of the questions I want to ask. But what I’ve found is that the people I’ve met so far are so friendly and incredibly knowledgeable and they’ve not laughed at me once.

Well ok, . . . they did laugh when I slipped over in the mud once, and someone thought it was funny that I wore lipstick while tree planting and a woman did make fun of my hat. “Looks like you’re going to a wedding” she said over lunch on a weeding expedition and everyone laughed.

But the same day I made an offhand comment that got experienced conservationists rather animated.

It was back in 2012 when I first starting going to the reserve and unbeknown to me the experienced volunteers had heard a Fernbird call occasionally but hadn’t seen one. I had no idea what Fernbirds looked like, I didn’t even know that Fernbirds were nationally endangered, or that Plagianthus was their natural habitat or that Paremata Flats was rated by so highly Nelson city Council for Fernbird’s survival.

But this planting day I needed a snack to keep me going. Now I am an 8th child in a family of 10 and as a result I have difficulty sharing sometimes, especially treat type food. So I snuck off and sat under a mature Plagianthus to enjoy my scroggin and chocolate alone. I noticed this unusual bird right beside me hopping about inside the bush. I could have reached out and touched it, but we ‘conversed’ for a good 5 mins or so. I got back to the others and quickly wiping any chocolate from my cheeks I said to the group; “I just saw a strange looking bird, it was like a small thrush with a really long tail”.

I swear that a couple of them hyperventilated in excitement. For those of you who are also fledgling environmentalists – check out the image of the bird on the Paremata logo on the home page.