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Canterbury Rugby Legend completes major conservation initiative

On Saturday 17 August, Canterbury Rugby Legend Tane Norton, Christchurch Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button and Waimakariri Mayor David Ayers braved the rain and joined 65 volunteers to plant 3,500 native trees and shrubs at Christchurch’s Ōtukaikino Reserve.

This staggering achievement was part of the Living Legends project. Living Legends is completing 14 regional projects during August, to reach a target of planting a total of 170,000 native trees throughout New Zealand. The work follows on from 2011 when Living Legends was established to leave a legacy of New Zealand’s hosting of Rugby World Cup.

Each region’s planting project is dedicated to a local “Rugby Legend”. Tane Norton was selected by CRFU as the Canterbury Rugby Legend in 2011 and spent Saturday at Ōtukaikino mucking-in with volunteers from the community to complete the Canterbury planting project.

Tane Norton says “Living Legends is a fantastic project that has brought together rugby and conservation. It has been an absolute privilege to be selected as the local Rugby Legend and to contribute to a project that will make a difference to New Zealand for generations to come.”

Devon McLean, Project Manager for Living Legends, adds “Tane has been a wonderful local ambassador for the Living Legends project, and has gone out of his way to support us. To have him there this weekend alongside the local community for our final event was brilliant, Tane truly is a legend.”

The Ōtukaikino reserve is a former grazing property that was recognised as having important biodiversity values and has been transformed into a wetland through collaboration between Lamb and Hayward Funeral Directors and the Department of Conservation. Living Legends is proud to have been able to bolster their effects through the planting of 10,700 natives over the last three years. Maintenance of the plantings that have been completed by Living Legends will now be handed over to the Department of Conservation.

Living Legends is a joint venture of Project Crimson, an environmental charity with 23 years experience in community-based native restoration projects and The Tindall Foundation. Major sponsors are the Department of Conservation and Meridian Energy.

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