Posted on April 29, 2020
Essential Duties during Lockdown
It’s 28th April 2020. The sun came up again this morning and it has done every day for the past 5 weeks. That hasn’t changed. Nature has carried on blissfully unaware of the war that has gripped the planet with an enemy that we can’t see and have found difficult to combat.
It is difficult to see humans being the same again over the next few generations. We have been forced into a position to think and act in new ways that we haven’t before. There are lots of positives to be found, especially if you are awkward at shaking hands.
Many people have probably shifted their priorities and found that our families are very important. We are missing the basic social contact of our wider families and communities but have found them on zoom and other platforms.
During the lockdown the nursery industry body NZPPI worked very hard with the help of some plant producers in keeping us open for essential duties in the nursery. So, we have had a mix of a core crew of people looking after the plants while the rest of us worked from home and many of you would have heard from someone in our team over that time.
The Waipu nursery looking northeast across Bream Bay and out to the Poor Knights in the distance.
Our Nursery Managers, Royston (Kaiwaka / Waipu), and Amos (Palmerston North), have kept up with the plant health to a very high standard and the comments are that the nurseries have never looked better. Matt (Kaiwaka / Waipu) and Rhys (Palmerston North) have been applying the spray programs and the pests and diseases have been managed very well.
Herbicide programs being applied to the Manuka seedlings
Seed Collection: An Essential Service?
One of the most hard fought for essential services that was not accepted by government initially was seed collection. With a lot of submissions and operational plans NZPPI managed to get a reply from MPI that under very strict guidelines this was a practice that was acceptable. I wonder whether people realize how crucial this activity is and the timing of it. We talk about eco-sourcing a lot, but more worrying was the fact that lockdown could block us from collecting the seed for many important native species. This could impact native seedling production for the next 1 to 5 years. The tree species that produce berries, e.g. Kaihikatea and Totara, are laden with berries. The next 2 – 3 years may not be as fruitful therefore we need to collect in advance. We are pleased to report that we have been very busy collecting millions of seeds during the lockdown. We will have 2021 covered.
On another seed collecting note is the impact the Northland drought is having. In the Kauri bushlands there is a significant number of the understory trees and shrubs that have died from lack of available moisture. This same story is the case for other drought stricken regions around NZ.
Morning Meetings in Isolation
Gathering together in teams on zoom for our morning meetings from our places of remote working has been interesting. Classic stereotypes soon emerge, and we had some laughs along the way. The always muted guy… poor internet person that drops out or freezes … sitting too far away from the mic so the voice is sketchy. We did find a new stereotype amongst us however and this happened more than once; the eating bacon and eggs bloke (Andrew Wearmouth).
Overall the lockdown in NZ has served its time and we have emerged into the post Covid world. It is going to be a challenge to catch up the lost time and try and schedule deliveries for the 150 truckloads that should have been delivered over the lockdown. The plants still must go out the gate as they a seasonal product. We will find ways to make this happen and this will be about an extra truckload per day throughout the rest of the season. The customer service team will have an extra workload in the plant delivery planning this year and no doubt many of you will hear from us about this.
We are looking forward to a very busy year with you all and Kauri Park has been through a few highs and lows over the past 25 years that we can reflect upon and apply to our way ahead.
It is now time for the rubber to hit the road.