Canterbury botanist tackling climate change after transforming farmland

A botanist from Canterbury has spent the last three decades transforming marginal farmland to native bush.

The isolated Banks Peninsula property is open to the public and now resembles a mini national park.

Every morning for 30 years Hugh Wilson laces up his boots and heads into the bush. He knows every native plant by name and what we can use them for.

"This is koromiko. It's the best remedy in wild nature in New Zealand for diarrhoea," he says.

The conservationist doesn't own a car or a computer and never had a cellphone. Instead, choosing to live 'the good life' on a slice of paradise called Hinewai on Banks Peninsular

"I've been here for 32 years working on Hinewai and been on Banks Peninsula before that and every morning I still look out the window and I almost have to pinch myself to realise I'm actually here. It's a very satisfying and worthwhile project."

Every day this Kaitiaki prunes and preens, clearing tracks and the native plants outgrowing the introduced gorse - controlling weeds - central to Hinewai's success.

"People are very sceptical about natural regeneration and gorse. We were called fools and dreamers because we even suggested the idea."

But it's an idea that took off.

"Now I don't think there's a single farmer around us who isn't behind Hinewai."

Countering climate change never the focus of this unique reserve - until now.

"I think we're in a major crisis."

A section of the reserve is registered for carbon sequestration - a process where the Government pays for carbon credits.

Initially, Hinewai was just 109 hectares. Thirty-two years later, it's grown 10-fold and for every hectare that's roughly 6-10 tonnes of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere every year.

"Without an ecology, there is no economy. It's a basic equation.

Wilson, a wilderness hero, tackling climate change and leaving a gift for New Zealand's next generation.