News and Events

Some ideas for family Home Time

Some ideas for children during your “home time”

While you are at home there are lots of fun family things you can do together in your garden to connect with nature. We have a range of resources you can download from our website then go outside and try them out! Below is a link to that page and the pdf documents you can print out or put on your phone – then start discovering!!

Learning Resources have developed a range of site-specific learning resources to help you get the most out of your visit. Download them as PDFs or use the hard-copies available at the Nature Education Centre.

Or do a garden bird survey – there is everything you need to know at this link -

The official survey starts in June but why not have a practice now and keep a bird diary, noting each day what birds visit your garden!

Or have a cooking session using our new Southland Community Nursery Recipe book – it has lots of good recipes using locally grown produce (such as “what to do with Zucchini!) as well as tips for local foraging – you can download it at All recipes were donated by our volunteers and put together by Bronwyn. When you are cooking, think about the people who submitted the recipes – you are bound to know some of them! Printed copies the Recipe Book are available from the Nursery, but that may have to wait a while! You can still put your order in though.

We will be putting stories on our website soon about seed collecting and other subjects so watch this space

Chris and Bronwyn

Sorry, we are closed!

Due to these uncertain times we are closing the Community Nursery until further notice. We will think of some inventive ways to connect with you all and we will be keeping the nursery running - just behind closed doors for now. We will collect seeds and prepare for a new season, whenever that happens. Education programmes will be postponed for now but we will think of some good ways you can still enjoy the outdoors with your children - “a nature diary” maybe! - watch this space!!

In the meantime stay safe and do email me with any questions on growing your own native plants! I will also still be taking orders for plants so if you have any requests just email but we wont have any pickups until the situation changes.

kind regards

Chris and Brian

Native Plants for Sale - Saturday 21 March 2020 10am-noon

Open Morning and Native plant Sale Saturday 21 March 2020

Get your locally sourced and grown native plants for autumn planting – plants for shelter, wetlands, forest restoration, attracting native birds or garden plants.

Learn about Southland native species, see examples of plantings and bush restoration.

Date – Saturday 21 March 2020

Time 10am-noon

Venue – Southland Community Nursery – 185 Grant Road, Otatara (Nursery entrance - just past the 185 rapid number)

Chris and Brian Rance

Rob Tipa Workshops 14 March 2020

As part of Heritage Month 2020 we held two workshops with Rob Tipa – author of “Treasures of Tane” – Plants of Ngai Tahu.

Chris introduced Rob and also Estelle Leask and Brian Rance - all passionate and knowledgeable advocates for native plants.

Rob began by explaining his whakapapa and his early days of putting together, as a journalist, the stories associated with the native plants of Ngai Tahu. The articles for Te Karaka magazine eventually became the book “Treasures of Tane”.

Out in the wetland, Rob’s enthusiasm was infectious as he went from story to story about “survival plants”, moving on to food and medicinal plants and those used for materials such as clothing, bags, building materials – he described wetlands as a supermarket for early maori people – many plants had a use and for many a special way of preparing them. Under the Ti kouka tree Rob explained the uses, and as with harakeke – the view that how could you live without them. Moving on around the wetland lacebark, ribbonwood, raupo and bracken fern uses were discussed, then the mighty trees totara, rimu, matai, miro, kahikatea – then back to the Education centre for practical weaving session and making poha kelp bags.

There is a great video of Tiny Metzger making poha at the following link

Thanks to Rob for sharing the stories with great humility and for his enthusiasm and fun – everyone really enjoyed the day. Thanks to Heritage South for putting together a great programme of events for Heritage Month 2020 – see more events at


Girls Brigade Go on a Leaf Hunt 10 March 2020

Off around the pond track on a leaf hunt saw the girls look high and low, left and right for leaves. We learnt about native species and introduced or weed species, and looked at the different shapes and colours of leaves - there is more than one green! A piwakawaka joined us and fun was had by all. We spotted the pest traps and bait stations along the way learning why we do this to protect our NZ flora and fauna.