An evening with Maia Mistral & Colin Meurk - Tuesday 13th November 2018 6.30pm

Come and find inspiration in the knowledge of others - in Maia Mistral's botanical perspective on the utility of basket willow in this region, & in Colin Meurk's ecological view of what we choose to plant here and why.

On Tuesday 13th November 2018 from 6.30pm we have Maia Mistral & Colin Meurk speaking in the beautiful old Gym at the Arts Centre. Tickets are $8, or $5 if you have a ticket to the main Necessary Traditions event.

Maia Mistral, Botanist. 

Maia will speak about willows for baskets. These days willows introduced to New Zealand are subject to bad press. Often neglected in the debate are willow species that humans have depended upon for centuries for their high utility values. One such group of willows selected over time specifically for their flexibility and amenability to cultivation are referred to collectively as basket willows. For those interested in learning willow basket making and beginners wishing to hone their skills a lack of access to suitable willow can be a major barrier to progress. In fact securing a reliable supply of raw material has been an ongoing concern even amongst professional willow basket makers who first began to work in New Zealand from the mid-19th century. This talk will use insights from the past to discuss the relative value of importation, wild harvesting and traditional coppice management of selected basket willow varieties as pathways for securing material supplies in the future.

Dr Maia Mistral has a background in Fine Arts and Botany. In 2016 she completed a PhD which examined some of the physical, mechanical and historical factors that contribute to the notion of a ‘good’ basket willow within a New Zealand context. She manages a small collection of wild genotypes and named cultivars of shrub and basket willow species with the help of a group of enthusiastic volunteers. The annual harvest is used to support basket making workshops.


Colin Meurk - Ecologist

Colin will speak on the importance of choosing the right plants for the place - to maximise ecosystem services (production, function, connectivity and food for wildlife) but also to feed our identity. Key concepts are ecological integrity, eco-sourcing, visibility, natural character, legibility, history and place-making. Together they build ecological literacy in the community, and connect us to our locally unique natural and cultural heritage. This contributes to productivity of foods and fibre, stories in the land for ourselves and visitors (spilling into local economy), and to general well-being.

Dr Meurk is a research associate at Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research, a New Zealand government science institute focused on understanding, protecting and sustainable use of land resources. His interests include biogeography, ecological restoration and design, landscape dynamics, urban ecology, subantarctic islands, conservation biology and citizen science. He promotes and designs biodiversity integration within production landscapes - Greening Waipara, Te Ara Kakariki (green pathways across the Canterbury Plains) and Riverlands Industrial Estate. He has received a Christchurch Civic Award, Loder Cup, Old Blue Award (Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society), Ecology-in-Action Award (NZ Ecological Society), and was associated with A Green Ribbon Award for Travis Wetland and Golden Foot Award for the Christchurch 360 Trail – projects for which Colin was instrumental in getting off the ground.



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