Motukarara Conservation Nursery and Resource Centre has established itself as a 'centre of excellence' for restoration in Canterbury. It grows Canterbury plants exclusively, with an emphasis on genetic purity. The nursery propagates over 120,000 plants each year, most of which are pre-sold for restoration projects.
The nursery aims to increase understanding of genetic purity, ecological restoration and protection. The nursery has produced a number of resources and publications.
Location and hours
The nursery is located within the Waihora Domain at Motukarara. It is signposted from the Christchurch-Akaroa Highway (SH75), 30 km from the centre of Christchurch.
Plants hardening off in the Motukarara Nursery
It is open Monday to Friday 8 am – 4 pm.
It is open on Saturdays from 10 am – 3 pm during the key planting seasons of Autumn (May) and Spring (September)
There is a nursery, display garden, ethno-botanical garden, and a resource centre.
The display garden in front of the nursery is open 24 hours and is planted with representative plantings of local plant associations found in wetlands, coastal areas and Banks Peninsula. It also has a collection of threatened plants and plants of cultural significance.
The ethno-botanical garden - Nga Tipu Whakaoranga o Tutekawa - has been developed as a living learning toolkit. From the time they first arrived in Aotearoa/New Zealand, Maori people depended on native plants for the necessities of life - food, firewood, shelter, clothing, and medicine. Nga Tipu Whakaoranga o Tutekawa celebrates the bonds between people and plants.
Visitors at an open day, Motukarara Nursery
The nursery grows Canterbury plants exclusively. Seed is collected from native plants natural to different ecological areas. The seed harvest (from January to the end of June) is done in relation to restoration projects, threatened plant programmes and sales demand. 200 different species are collected from some 20 ecological sites.
Seeds are sown until September and propagated until the end of December. From January to April the seedlings are conditioned for the autumn or spring planting. Most of the production is on a yearly cycle, but some will take two to three years. Most of the 120,000 plants produced are grown in small pots or RX pots.