Just a short walk from the bustling Great South Road is the tranquil oasis of Kirks Bush - a place lovingly transformed by a dedicated group of volunteers over the past 25 years.
The Friend of Kirks Bush recently celebrated their 25th birthday with a celebratory event among the towering forest of mature taraire, pūriri, karaka, tōwai, tawa and rimu.
Among the guests at the celebration were Papakura Local Board members and chair Brent Catchpole says it was an honour to be part of it.
“The amount of work they have done over the years to maintain and transform the park is nothing short of amazing and Papakura is really lucky to have it.
“It is very special place that everyone should visit.”
The group, passionate about plants, gardening and caring for the bush, was established in 1993 when former Papakura District councillor David Wright put an advertisement in the local paper calling for volunteers.
“It really has been a labour love over the years and for me quite therapeutic in a way,” says one of the group's foundation members Muriel Nacey.
“This is such a peaceful place to be, especially when you consider we are just a few metres from a really busy road and the motorway is not that far away.”
Over the years the Friends has successfully lobbied local authorities for wooden boardwalks to replace gravel tracks and have taken a common sense, number eight wire approach to dealing with issues like graffiti.
“We had issues with people tagging the tree trunks and we tried all sorts of things to discourage it but what’s been most successful is putting mud on the trunks so the paint can’t stick,” says Terry Beazer, another member of the Friends of Kirks Bush.
And while it is a lot of hard work, fellow volunteer Margaret Gane says the payoff is seeing the number of people who love and appreciate the bush as much as they do.
“It’s really popular with dog walkers, nature lovers, runners and those who like to take a leisurely stroll.
“Local schools often bring students here to learn more about the plants and trees – it really is like a large outdoor classroom.”
Future plans for the group include having a new walking bridge linking up a couple of the paths in the park.
As with all volunteer groups, the Friends would welcome new faces to continue the work for years to come. Anyone interested in joining the Friends can contact Margaret Gane on 022 158 8064.
Discover Kirks Bush
If you are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city living, do yourself a favour take in the tranquilly this special place.
As well as enjoying a forest of mature native trees, you may even catch a glimpse of the sound of a tui, kaka, fantail or kereru.
Entrances to the park are at 377 Great South Road and Beach Road.