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Taranaki Rugby Legend completes major conservation initiative

On Sunday 18 August, Taranaki Rugby Legend Ian Eliason and Mayor Harry Duynhoven joined 200 volunteers to plant almost 2,000 native trees and shrubs at New Plymouth’s Coastal Walkway.

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”.  Ian Eliason was selected by Taranaki Rugby Union as the local Rugby Legend in 2011 and spent Sunday morning at the Coastal Walkway mucking-in with volunteers from the community to complete the Taranaki planting project.

Ian Eliason 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 “Ian 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, Ian truly is a legend.”

Living Legends Taranaki planting location is host to the award-winning Te Rewa Rewa bridge which crosses the Waiwhakaiho River and provides access to the Te Rewa Rewa Reserve. This area is administered by the Te Rewa Rewa Management Committee which is a partnership between the Ngati Tawhirikura Hapu of Te Atiawa and the New Plymouth District Council.  The extension of the coastal walkway just beyond the spectacular Te Rewa Rewa bridge has benefited from Living Legends planting of over 10,000 plants in the area between the walkway and the sea. It is hoped the dense plantings will not only suppress persistent weeds but also help in the stabilisation of the fore-dune.  Maintenance of the plantings that have been completed by Living Legends will now be handed over to the Department of Conservation.

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