2500 trees planted to honour NZ war heroes and Christchurch shooting victims

By Jessica Tyson

The thousands of New Zealand soldiers who have fallen in the line of duty have been honoured at a tree planting event at Te Atatū Peninsula, Auckland today.

More than 2400 trees have been planted at Orangihina Park to honour their sacrifice; as well as another 51 rongoā plants to pay tribute to the victims who died during the Christchurch shooting.

Organiser Hone Peeni, of Ngāpuhi and Tainui, hopes the memorial for the Christchurch victims will help other Muslims living in Auckland feel supported.

“The pain is still there for the Muslim community in Auckland,” says Peeni.

“The Muslim community here today in Waitakere and the rest of Auckland feel happy.”

Members of the Muslim community attended the event today, including Salah Maarouf and his whānau.

“Lots of Muslim in New Zealand be happy because this [is] very respectful for us and for my people,” he says.

For Auckland mayoral candidate John Tamihere supporting the Muslim community is a part of being Māori.

“We must always associate with a loss of somebody that is discriminated and prejudiced against solely because they tried to practise their culture. We were attacked for practising ours and so we have similarity with them.”

A variation of native riparian and secondary growth species were planted, along with new and existing planting areas, for the benefit of the awa flowing through the park, the wildlife that relies on them and the people who enjoy them.

Planting the trees is also a way to connect people to the land says Sustainable Coastlines Plant Day Coordinator Fletcher Sunde.

He says the event is all about “restoring the mauri” of the whenua.

“Te Atatū Peninsula used to be covered in kauri forest back in the day. The mahi we're doing here today will be here thousands of years.”