Good Egg: The Shirley Community Trust

Good Egg: The Shirley Community Trust

While Christchurch is known as the ‘Garden City’, one spot in Shirley wasn’t quite living up to the title. 

Overlooked and under-valued, MacFarlane Park is at the heart of a densely populated state housing area and was looking pretty run-down. But thanks to the Shirley Community Trust, who have informally adopted the park, life is returning. As part of a series of initiatives to increase pride in the park, the Birdsong Trails aim to create liveable spaces for the winged members of the Shirley community.

Several urban corridors run through Macfarlane Park connecting schools, housing and two community centres. Children and parents walk along these pathways on the way to school and to the community gardens every day. To make the walk more attractive, The Trust had the vision of planting the corridors with native trees and shrubs. This would thereby attract the birds and create opportunities for future education initiatives.

"The Birdsong Trails are another strategy for building community.”

So far, with the support of the City Council nursery, the Trust has planted 500 natives to establish the first quarter of the Birdsong Trails. A mix of harakeke, kōwhai, ribbonwood and other shrubs have dramatically increased the appeal of using the pathways, according to Shirley Community Trust Chair Graeme Mitchell.

“It used to be a derelict part of the park, a corridor that nobody went down. But now we hear school kids saying they want to walk that way to check on the trees."

It is a true community project with school children, families and volunteers helping to plant the trees, as well as water, weed and maintain them.

The long term goals of the Birdsong Trails include working with the schools to build bird houses and bird feeder stands, provide education about bird life and improve the ecosystems for native wildlife.

Already looking to extend the Birdsong Trail, the Trust is working with some experts from Lincoln University who could plant five varieties of harakeke. These will provide food for the birds and in time, could be used for teaching weaving and tikanga classes.

For Graeme and the Trust, the project is all about creating reasons for people to come to the park. 

“It’s about community ownership. The park was under-utilised, relatively unsafe and full of graffiti. We’ve removed all the graffiti, had beautiful murals put on the fences and improved access to the community garden. The Birdsong Trails are another strategy for building community.”

Birdsong Trail at Macfarlane Park

Good Egg Native birds Native planting Native trees New Zealand native bIrds