By Kanoa Lloyd
When two accountants buy a dairy farm, one of the last things you'd expect to result is a flourishing native forest.
But that's exactly what's growing on 24 hectares in Kaipara, in northwest Auckland.
It's conservation week and CUE Haven Farm is one of the projects being celebrated.
Just five years ago, the lush valley was part of a fully functioning dairy farm; now the cattle have been replaced by kanuka trees, and a native forest is being reborn.
It is all thanks to husband and wife Tom and Marukh Stazyk, former accountants who gave up the corporate life for a different kind of number crunching.
"Marukh and I used to both be accountants, so we keep statistics on everything from pests trapped to volunteers utilised," says Mr Stazyk.
The milking shed is now a plant nursery. The hay barn is accommodation for volunteers.
"Really I think this is the future," says Ms Stazyk. "If we want to transform New Zealand, everyone has got to work together."
Conservation week saw a new crop getting out of the office.
"It's great," says volunteer Rene Martinussen. "You're seeing what you're doing, which is really fantastic, and once it's all finished you can come back and have a look at what you've done."
The Department of Conservation is also part of the team, pairing volunteers with projects like this around the country.
"We can't do it on our own; one government department can't fix the whole of New Zealand, so we need to involve people," says Department of Conservation partnership ranger Liz Maire.
More than 2000 people have been involved, planting 126,000 native trees and building four kilometres of walking tracks.
"I love volunteers because the more work they do the less I have to do," says Mr Stazyk.
Even with all that help, it'll take another three years until they have finished planting. Then the Stazyks plan to legally protect the trees.
"At that point, open it up to the community as a park and ultimately gift it to the community because we can't take it with us when we're gone," says Mr Stazyk.
Then the transformation from farm to forest will be complete.
source: newshub archive