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Friday, October 11, 2019

Horowhenua Chronicle

MEET TŌTARA | PODOCARPUS TOTARA

The mighty tōtara Meet tōtara | Podocarpus totara Tōtara are forest giants, the largest known species in the podocarp family. What you need to know about tōtara: Threat status: Tōtara is a species of podocarp tree endemic to New Zealand. It is still widespread, but is no longer found as a dominant vegetation type in much of its former range. Likely to be spotted: Tōtara is commonly found in lowland areas where the soil is fertile and well drained. It grows throughout the North Island and north-eastern South Island in lowland, montane and lower subalpine forest at elevations of up to 600 m. Doing what: Stretching up to Ranginui (the sky) — tōtara is a light-loving species so it reaches for the forest canopy, growing up to 30m high. As a young tree, tōtara is bushy and spreading. As it gains height, it acquires a massive trunk covered in thick, stringy bark. Tōtara is prized by tangata whenua; its durable timber is traditionally used for canoes (waka) and carving. You might not know that: Tōtara is a conifer with separate sexes, belonging to the podocarp family. Like all conifers, podocarps reproduce using cones, but podocarp cones are extremely modified and look more like berries. These are attractive to birds, which help to spread the seeds. The male tōtara has pollen cones, which develop in spring at the ends of the old stems in groups of one to three. New cones are green, but turn brown as they open and release pollen. The female fruit is a rounded green seed (4-5mm) which sits on a smooth succulent red stem. Threats to our forest giants: · Land clearance and timber harvesting has reduced the size of our podocarp forests.

Cones and fruit on a female tōtara tree. PHOTO / DOC

· Possums do enormous damage to native New Zealand forests. They also compete with native animals for food, and prey upon birds, their eggs and nestlings. · Weeds, often garden escapees, have invaded our forests and in many cases out-compete native plants. · Browsing by introduced mammals such as deer and sheep seriously limit the ability of a forest to regenerate. · Fire is an obvious threat to forest. ■ To find out more about local species or conservation work, contact DOC Manawatu (email manawatu@doc.govt.nz, phone 06-3509700) or visit www.doc.govt.nz

YOUR LETTERS

Junk mail I get fed up with all this junk mail in my letter box. I know it is advertising but from my point of view it is junk mail and a shocking waste of resources in this day and age of pollution. I don’t ask for it, I never read it and I should not have to put up with it. And it damages the environment. I also read that you shouldn’t burn paper with colour print/pictures. So, why don’t I just put a sign on my letter box saying “no junk mail”? I did, only to discover that I then no longer got my local newspaper! Apparently that is also in the category of “junk mail”. So, I had to take the sign off. Philosophically, I think that tells you a lot about our society. A newspaper that allegedly informs is junk mail! I know people read this “junk” and the advertiser wants to sell their goods, but its just another pollutant. I think the advertisers should find better ways of advertising their goods that do not pollute the environment. What does that tell you

about our society? We have all the wrong priorities. YVONNE SUMMERS Levin

Wellbeing expo The Wellbeing Expo held at Levin’s Public Library Te Takeretanga o Kura-hau-pō on Friday September 24: A big thank you to Renee MacDonald and all who participated in bringing all the various health initiatives as one body, for the public to see and experience. What a brilliant event. It brought the whole community together. Persons who were lucky enough to come together as one. Kotahitanga, manaakitanga, arohanui. After a couple of hours there, I didn’t want to leave. It was that good. Hopefully the event can happen more often, for if one becomes sick, one cannot help others. CHARLES RUDD LEVIN

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