Natural Habitats is proud to announce that we have won an impressive 11 Awards in the 2016 Placemakers Riccarton Landscaping New Zealand awards – more awards and in more categories than any other landscaping company.

/projects/Brickworksentrancesmall.JPGIncluding winning the prestigious PGG Wrightson SPECIAL FEATURE OF THE YEAR, our team won three Gold Awards and seven Silver Awards for Landscape Design, Construction, Horticulture and Maintenance. That each project won awards for both design and construction is recognition of the complete value our Design and Build service model provides to our clients.

We’ve profiled the award winning landscapes in a series of blogs and would like to thank all our team involved in these projects as well as our clients who gave us the opportunity to design and build such fabulous gardens. First up is Bricklane – Brickworks (Lynn Mall Shopping Centre) which won one of the top awards - the PGG Wrightson SPECIAL FEATURE OF THE YEAR 2016 AWARD, as well as a Gold award for Landscape Design, and a Silver award for Landscape Construction. Congratulations go to Landscape Designer Lloyd Atherfold, and our Build Team – Nick Blandford and Phil Komene.




Balclutha Green Wall becomes school project

28 May 2016

South Otago High School teacher Christine Elder was first wowed by green walls when she saw a high rise building in Sydney with a green wall a few years ago and thought the green wall concept would be a good study focus for her students.

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“I taught a few of my classes looking at what the benefits of a green wall are and got students to research the different types on you tube,” explains Christine. “The nearest we got to a green wall at school was the purchase of plastic containers that we stacked up to grow lettuces during the summer. Our only problem was that we didn’t have a watering system to go with it!”

And then Natural Habitats was commissioned to install a 29 sq m green wall for the Clutha district council in Balclutha – the home town for the school. With its diverse range of native species, the green wall became an ideal teaching tool for Christine’s Year 7 and 8 students as part of their technology curriculum.

To help with the student’s study, our Business Development Manager, Kim Johnstone, sent the school general information and technical material on our green walls including some international studies on the positive effect of green walls in living and working spaces.

Each green wall and its environment is different and finding plant species that would thrive in the Balclutha green wall was a big challenge for our green wall expert, Sam Dixon.

“Balclutha’s environment has a cooler temperature, lower rainfall and a lower humidity overall compared to say the Auckland area,” explains Sam. “So choosing species that grow well in that area and species that are known to tolerate cooler temperatures – particularly frost tolerant - was the main priority.”

Positioned in a newly developed civic square, the green wall has thrived and has been really well-received by the local community as it provides an attractive backdrop to historical information about the Clutha area, says the Clutha District Council.

“Our green wall adds real character and vibrancy to an important communal space and the feedback from our residents has been positive.  The green wall is a key design feature in Balclutha’s new-look main street,” says the Council.

Mounted on a steel frame constructed by Fulton Hogan, the green wall is made up of 29, 1x2 metre panels. While it took some six months for the chosen species to grow in the green wall media – the install only took two days to turn a concrete wall into a living, green wall.

Iwi support through training and employment

28 May 2016

Supporting iwi youth local to significant motorway projects has become a working policy for Natural Habitats. On the M2PP project building a motoray from McKay to Pekapeka on the Waikanae coast, we have just employed 10 staff from the local Iwi (Te Ati Awa), says our Wellington regional manager, Tim Broadbent.

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“They will initially be working for the maintenance part of the M2PP contract looking after the some 1.3 million plants we are putting in the ground,” says Tim. “We are also committing to training these new staff and some of them will start their progress towards a National certificate in Horticulture levels 2, 3 and 4.”

Meanwhile, on the Waikato Expressway project we have a partnership with both local Iwi, Ngaa Muka, and the Ministry of Social Development to help out with training of local Iwi, says our Waikato regional manager, Ken Moore.

“With support funding from the Ministry we have hired 2 staff from local Iwi,” says Ken. “For the 2016 season planting, we will build up to a total of hiring around 10 staff through our relationship with the Ngaa Muka cluster of marae.”

Care for cool Devonport Library

28 May 2016

Our Care division is looking after the grounds around one of the coolest libraries in the country – the brand-new Te Pātaka Kōrero o Te Hau Kapua – the Devonport Library in Windsor Reserve on Auckland’s North Shore.

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Designed by Athfield Architects, the $7.8 million library opened last year and sits on the same footprint as the original library on Windsor Reserve.

Feature windows frame harbour views on the south and east sides of the building, while to the west the entrance, expanses of glass pathways, and outdoor seating integrate the building with Devonport’s main street.

Surrounded by mature Morton Bay Figs, Oaks, as well as phoenix palms, the library also has modest garden beds, says our Care division manager, Mike Ramsay.

The library has huge foot traffic so our main focus is keeping the garden beds, lawns and outdoor seating areas looking presentable throughout the year,” says Mike. “The library, grounds and location make it a real pleasure for our care team work on!”

Mudfish find new home in Rangiriri project

21 September 2015

Creating a new habitat for a colony of rare black mudfish was one of the first stages Natural Habitats undertook when it started work on the Rangiriri section of the Waikato Expressway in July 2014.

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Normally found living in wetlands and swamps, a large population of the fresh water fish was found living in a drain that was in the path of the Expressway. With their normal habitat steadily declining as swamps are drained for farming, these fish were captured and moved to special tanks at Waikato University while Natural Habitats created a new home for them, says Natural Habitats’ project manager Michael Pritchard

“We’ve carefully created a new habitat that measures approximately 500 square metres, and includes native plants and a winding stream channel, surrounded by shallower wetland areas – and I’m happy to confirm that the mudfish are thriving in their new home!” explains Mike.

Working closely with landscape designers, Boffa Miskell and Fletcher Construction, Natural Habitats was able to produce a cost effective planting solution within a tight budget.

By the time the Expressway is completed in late 2016, Natural Habitats will have worked on 120,000 m2 of planting area as well as 10,000 m3 of mulch and 20,000m2 of coconut fibre matting in new and existing wetlands, on embankments, interchange roundabouts and auxiliary roads.

Creating employment for this large project has been a partnership with both local Iwi, Ngaa Muka, and the Department of Social Welfare with training of around 10 staff from local Iwi for the 2016 planting season.

Now and then - Ngaruawahia Bypass

21 September 2015

Including training and employing local iwi members, at its peak, we had 14 staff working on this project to ensure the bypass would be open on time in December 2013.

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This project was the start of an initiative we have carried forward to train and employ iwi members local to our large-scale projects. 10 of our staff on the Rangiriri project were from the Turangawaewae and Taupiri marae which has formed the basis of a strong relationship with Waikato Tainui going forward.

As with all motorway projects, the volumes of materials used were impressive. We planted more than 215,000, used 40,000m2 coconut fibre matting, 10,000m3 of mulch, and 35,0000m2 of grassing and erosion control.

An ongoing part of the Ngaruawahia Bypass was the restoration of Simpsons Gully in Horotiu just off the motorway. The restoration started by clearing more than 5 hectares of willow and gorse. We then placed around 3500m3 of mulch on the Gully sides to plant around 70,000 plants over about 8 hectares of the gully.

New Christchurch motorway project!

21 September 2015

Natural Habitats’ ability to source skilled staff and resources in the tight Christchurch construction market has secured the contract to landscape The Western Belfast Bypass (WBB) motorway project in Christchurch.

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The WBB is a new four-lane, 5km, median separated motorway bypassing Belfast and running from the existing Northern Motorway to join Johns Road south of The Groynes entrance.

Work began in May and the project is due for completion in 2017/18, says our Business Development Manager, Laurie Wearmouth.

“We are working with Fulton and Hogan on this exciting project which is part of the NZTA Roads of National Significance motorways project in Christchurch,” says Laurie.

“The project is one of the largest motorway projects in Christchurch to date in terms of its landscaping.  Our involvement with the project will consist of sourcing and planting hundreds of thousands of plants as well as contouring thousands of cubic metres of mulch and topsoil.”

Natural Habitats anticipates that it will have 25 staff on the ground in the upcoming 12 months to handle various major projects in that region.

“It is exciting to see strong Civil Projects beginning to emerge and with projects such as Belfast - Natural Habitats will hit the ground running,” says Laurie.

“We are looking to be a major construction player offering our services to the Construction Sector in Canterbury and the South Island.”

On another note, Belfast has a close connection to our owner, Graham Cleary, whose family line of Cleary’s landed in Lyttelton when Captain William Cleary arrived in the mid-1800s.  Captain Cleary married and the members of the 5th generation still live in the region!

The Waterview Connection – NZ’s largest roading project

21 September 2015

Described as having the biggest impact on Auckland since the opening of the Auckland Harbour Bridge in 1959, the Waterview Connection will complete the Western Ring Route by connecting the Southwestern and Northwestern Motorways.

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Natural Habitats has been contracted to handle the large scale landscape construction by the Well-Connected Alliance comprising the NZ Transport Agency, Fletcher Construction, McConnell Dowell Constructors, Beca Infrastructure, Tonkin & Taylor, Parsons Brinkerhoff and Obayashi Corporation.

Natural Habitats’ history of working with Fletcher Construction on large and complex projects was a key attribute in winning the landscaping contract, says Natural Habitats project manager Barry Locke.

“The ability to work closely with a number of large construction companies on so many projects within the contract requires accurate and integrated planning, delivering with quality construction, problem solving and working within stringent health and safety protocols,” says Barry.

“Having the ability to source the enormous quantities of landscaping materials required, and being cost effective so the project can stay within budget was also a key factor.”

“With regular meetings between the Well-connected Alliance partners, the designers Boffa Miskell, the site engineers from Fletchers and also the site ecologist, the Alliance is extremely happy we are achieving our milestones.”

Creating reserves, sports grounds and even a children’s playground has been included in the project. About one kilometre of the Oakley Creek had to be redirected which meant the recreation of a natural bush-like habitat called Waterview Glades.

“The Glades has had input from the “Friends of Oakley creek” as we carefully locate 5000 plants into this habitat,” says Barry.

“In the South location of the project around Valonia Street we are replanting of a few Species of native geraniums carefully watched by the Site Ecologist. For me personally,  working together with a whole lot of good people to successfully deliver New Zealand’s largest ever civil infrastructure project is something I am proud to be a part of!”

M2PP - 1.3 million plants and counting

21 September 2015

Being contracted to handle New Zealand’s largest landscape project requires Natural Habitats’ expert project management to programme, budget and deliver working alongside a very large project team.

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Project managed by Tim Broadbent from our Wellington office, the giant 18km, four lane M2PP motorway in Wellington running from McKay to Pekapeka will require the propagation of 1.3 million locally sourced, primarily native plants to be planted in 140 hectares of landscaping.

To date we have planted about 200,000 plants this winter and we still have to plant another 150,000 mostly into swales and storm water ponds, says Tim.

“The project is also increasing the wetland habitats on the Coast as every hectare of wetland that is lost or moved due to construction is being replaced with five hectares of new wetland habitat,” explains Tim.

“Further environment mitigation work is taking place at the M2PP Kapiti Quarry where we are planting a further 53,000 plants this winter to the rear of the quarry creating a further Hectare of native bush and wetland habitat.”

“Our locally sourced team is growing and includes some young Te Ati Awa cadets. This is part of our ongoing commitment to rural iwi skills training.”

Natural Habitats’ landscaper wins Young Landscaper of the Year

14 July 2015

We’re proud to announce that Natural Habitats’ Team Leader, Stefan Scott, is the winner of the 2015 City Parks Services Young Landscaper of the Year competition.

Stefan was awarded his trophy during the Landscaping New Zealand Conference held on July 4 in Auckland, and his prizes included a Stihl chainsaw, Vectorworks Landmark and tutorial support by Megabits Trust and a $500 Prebble Seeds gift pack.

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Stefan is the fourth person employed by Natural Habitats to win this prestigious title – the other winners being Darren Barrett, Blair Chicken and Liza Whalley.

A competition practical activities day was held at City Parks Services Domain Nursery in Auckland on Saturday 4 July. The activities included setting out, laying paving, preparing a bed for planting, plant identification, irrigation installation, costing out a plan and various interview scenarios.

The competitors attended the Landscaping New Zealand Conference to present their three minute prepared speech during the City Parks Services Young Landscaper of the Year event.

Stefan will go on and compete in the Young Horticulturalist of the Year Competition later this year representing Landscaping against other horticultural industries including viticulture, nurseries, and floristry.

Auckland City's trees woefully protected

11 June 2015

An urgent warning has been sounded for the trees remaining in Auckland's concrete jungle after researchers found there's scant protection left to save them from development.

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A study shows the Auckland isthmus has just 6 per cent of its urban forest left, and of that, well over half stands on private land. Only 15 per cent is protected through Auckland Council's Schedule of Notable Trees - the only remaining tool for tree protection after changes to the Resource Management Act in 2012.

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