A group of 25 people turned up at the Hoffman Continuous Kiln in Palmerston North, despite the decent rainfall in the weather forecast. David introduced us to the history of the area, right back to the Kiln´s construction in 1904. It was fascinating to see the various stamps on the displayed bricks and see on the photos how the Kiln used to produce them. After the buildings retired and got damaged by earthquakes, a lot of work has been done to restore and develop it for everyone to enjoy.
David also showed us around the kiln tunnel and explained how it used to operate, before we left the site and walked down to the former pit. This is where the clay for the kiln was sourced, before it was used as a wasteland. About 20 years ago, the local community started to establish a plan to restore the site and turn it into bush again. Before dropping down into the pit, we could overview the entire area and were impressed already. A beautiful patch of bush, with walkways and waterways running through it. Down at the car park we met Beth from the Pit Park People. She took us for a walk and told us the story of how this place became beautiful again. She had been involved all the way through and talked about the tough beginnings, until the project got council and many locals into their boat to make it all possible.
The seedlings planted only a few years ago are now trees that are closing up to form a canopy. Just as beautiful are the established wetland areas with flaxes and cabbage trees and lots of other species. It was and continues to be an enormous amount of work to look after it all and establish this oasis of native bush in the city further. Schools and other groups are getting involved to help but the Pit Park People are in need of more helping hands from the community. A worthwhile project to invest your time into for sure!
(Text by Jorinna)