Clive's rata-planting efforts at the Ata Rangi Bush Block have led to a close association with Project Crimson, and also inspired the idea for Crimson, our younger vines Pinot Noir sold in
support of their work.
Project Crimson is the name of a charitable conservation trust set up in 1989 in response to a NZ Forest Research report which showed that more than 90% of stands of mature pohutukawa, our iconic and much-loved native 'Christmas tree', had been eliminated or were seriously threatened.In 1996, the Project Crimson Trust extended its mandate to include pohutukawa's close cousin, Rata. Pohutukawa's original habitat was the top half of the North Island. It loves the beach; every 'Kiwi' fondly recalls picnics enjoyed in the shade of its sprawling branches. Rata, on the other hand, thrives in the mountains of the lower North Island and throughout the South Island where its flowers provide nectar to produce one of our most delicious native honeys.
Sadly, rata and pohutukawa leaves are addictive junk-food for the Australian brush-tailed possum, a devastating pest introduced by early settlers in 1837 to establish a fur trade. These feral killers not only gorge on birds' eggs, but eat the leaves, buds, flowers and young shoots of the trees and can kill a mature rata tree within two years. In some areas they have contributed to the dieback of extensive areas of rata. They're unquestionably the deadliest threat to our native forests - an estimated 70 million of them chomp through 7 million tonnes of vegetation every year! Project Crimson funds extensive pest control programmes and facilitates the planting of at least 30,000 trees each year. They also encourage and inspire individual volunteers, community organisations and regional councils to undertake their own planting and management programmes. They continue to establish beautiful 'Crimson Trails' - scenic walks, hikes and drives throughout New Zealand that feature stands of rata and pohutukawa, spectacular in summer when in full crimson-coloured bloom.
Check out the Project Crimson website. Sign up for their free e-newsletters, and for updates on public planting days near you. Remember that each bottle of Crimson enjoyed supports the planting of a rata or pohutukawa tree somewhere in New Zealand.
The Project Crimson Vision: "To enable pohutukawa and rata to flourish again in their natural habitats as icons in the hearts and minds of all New Zealanders."