A significant wildfire on Sunday, October 4, 2020, devastated 48 houses in the small alpine community of Lake Ōhau. It consumed 5,032 hectares and is considered one of the costliest fires in the country.
The Lake Ōhau Community Hub Charitable Trust was founded in October 2021 with the aim of operating a community plant nursery, organizing community activities, and encouraging community participation in rebuilding connections while assisting in the area's revegetation efforts.
Otago Community Trust was pleased to approve a $4,100 grant to support the community revegetation project. It is gratifying to see how this project has contributed to enhancing the social well-being of the community.
Community members who lost houses are at various stages of rebuilding, with some completed, some underway and some planning to start rebuilding in coming months.
The planting efforts have supported the natural environment's regeneration by enticing native species, such as the bellbird/korimako, to return to the area.
"After the fire, the losses were total: mature trees, shrubs, and our house – all gone. We were left with what felt like a desert. Initially, it was daunting, not even knowing where to start. Eventually, a plan came together. The kindness of others, like the Otago Community Trust, which provided us with funding for plant vouchers, and Matai Nursery, where we redeemed the vouchers for plants to restore the environment, meant a lot to us. It helped us navigate the rebuilding and landscaping process after the terrible destruction of the fire. It was a kind, practical, and generous gift that we deeply appreciated."