News Story

Volunteers Plant 600 Trees in Auckland Park

Staff from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Pacific Area Office recently completed a service project in the scenic Wenderholm Regional Park.  

A group of volunteers from the Pacific Area Office of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Auckland, New Zealand recently completed a service project in the nearby Wenderholm Regional Park.  

About 25 volunteers worked to plant new vegetation on a steep hillside of thick grass. The going was tough but the group planted about 600 trees and shrubs during the four hours of work. 

Wenderholm was created in 1965 and was the first of 26 regional parks that surround Auckland. 

Situated north of the city between the estuaries of the Puhoi River and the Waiwera River on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island, it covers about 60 hectares and hosts camping, beach and picnic areas among other activities. It is also home to many native bird species.

A group from the Pacific Area Office worked under the direction of Community Rangers in a service project to plant native trees and shrubs on a steep hillside of kikuyu grass at the Wenderholm Regional Park near Auckland, New Zealand. June 20212021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Phoebe Steele and Sydney Olsen, community rangers for the Auckland Council at Wenderholm, said that the planting project will help to diversify the vegetation which is important for attracting native birds and retaining moisture in the soil.

“It was great being part of a well-organized effort for planting so many trees,” said Glen Reid, a financial analyst. “It was nice to see how a few hands can make a such a difference for Mother Nature.” 

Mike Ramirez, a video producer for the Publishing Services Department and one of the organizers of the project, said, “The tree planting activity is not only to give back something to the park but more importantly we were able to give back something to the earth. Those trees will live longer than any of us and will stand as a monument for generations to see and enjoy!”

Albert Niuelua, Pacific Area Human Resources Manager for the Church, said he was glad he came. “We had a good mix of employees from different departments. There was a beautiful spirit of service, comradery, helping each other, fun and laughter. Everyone seemed to enjoy working outdoors in nature away from our devices and offices.”

He added, “One of our church leaders, M. Russell Ballard, shared in some recent remarks that when we serve others, our hope in Christ increases. (See “Hope in Christ”, April 2021 General Conference). 

Julia Manuel, Auckland Region Assistant Facilities Manager, said, "One of my favourite Māori words is kaitiaki as it sums up our responsibility perfectly as guardians for the land, sea and air. And being here shows the beauty of creation and instantly connects me to my Father in Heaven and Saviour Jesus Christ. Oh what a joy!"

Special choir performs hymn for General Conference April 2020 on Auckland beach. New Zealand.

The park played an important role in another Church activity last year. In the spring of 2020, a special choir was assembled ─ including Church members from the Auckland area ─ which recorded a performance of a much beloved Latter-day Saint hymn on the beach at Wenderholm.

The pre-recording allowed Church choirs from six different continents to virtually join a pre-recorded performance of The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square during the Church's April 2020 worldwide general conference. The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t allow for choirs to sing live.

You can see a video clip of the choir singing here.

The Pacific Area Office has responsibility for the operations of the Church in the South Pacific including American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

There are over 570,000 Latter-day Saints in the Pacific Area (Oceania). In addition to many congregations across the region, the Church operates schools and supports regular charitable and humanitarian projects.

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