Children from Te Kura O te Paetūmokai ( Featherston School) were supported by Rod Sugden and Jane Riddiford from Ruamāhanga Mauri Oho to reflect on their experiences of planting an understory beneath the forest giants at Waihinga bush. The children discussed the qualities of the forest and identified values they felt were important. Through a ‘freefall’ writing exercise they imagined themselves to be a tiny seed in the moist dark soil waiting until the conditions were right for them to make their journey into the light. What did they feel? What did they see? What did they hope for? They all began with the start line:

As I sat silent and still, I wondered what I might become:

Slowly, I burst from below as my roots stretched further into the soil. I looked up to see wondrous, thick and hard looking trees as little versions of me. I continued to sit still and be patient. Years must have passed as I grew taller and taller and bigger. Spotted with yellow and shimmering gold, birds flew around me. As my flowers dropped and so did my seeds, little children started to grow. Energetically the plants grew. I felt tired and old. My bumpy truck was feeling very fragile. As I fell over, I closed my eyes and listened to the pitter patter of the rain and the sweet melodies from the birds. As I watched the saplings grow strong and thick, others shaded the forest with their green leaves. I rotted away as new seedlings grew around me.

Sunlight Shining, just waiting for my time to come.
The earth is breathing, telling me its time.
The soil breaking above me I felt instant joy.
The summer air on my stem.
Everyday I feel more achievement than I’ve ever been.
I’m getting stronger as the days go on, my brothers together helping me more and more.
As time goes by and being so tall, I’m still scared, but the resilience in me is pushing me harder and harder.
The higher I go, the more I know this is the best life I’m ever going to have.
Birds singing in my ears, as I look down waiting for a new tree to sprout, and for me and my brothers to help it.

Slowly, I grew roots and started to sprout up through the soil. I pushed. Patient with the potential to become a towering giant, giving shade to the creatures that live in the undergrowth and homes to those who fly and soar up in the sky. I was a Totara. Tiny, but waiting forever, waiting for the time when I would grow to be as tall as my ancestors.
By Jonah

Slowly I came out of the ground and sprouted. I saw all the other trees around me and slowly my yellow flowers blossomed, and I towered over every other tree near me. Then birds started taking pollen from my flowers and spreading it around the place. And I was later named a Kowhai.

The elders providing shade from the scorching sun and blanketing me from the bitter cold and shivering rain. With me sleeping, wondering how long it would take – Days? Weeks? Years? Centuries? Weeks passed, I am a sapling now. Still waiting. Time has gone by quickly. Like a water droplet