Summer in the Styx 2023 event goes in search of fairies

After a hiatus of two years due to COVID-19, the Summer in the Styx event was held on Sunday, 29 January.

Run by the Styx Living Laboratory Trust and held at the Te Waoku Kahikatea Reserve, Summer in the Styx is an opportunity for the local community to participate in various fun activities designed to impart valuable information about the reserve and the Pūharakekenui Styx River.

Once again, Citycare Property was present at the event, hosting a native plant fairy house scavenger hunt.  

“We hid 10 ‘guardians of the Styx Forest’ fairy houses throughout the reserve, with each house containing information on a local native plant,” says Community Partnerships Advisor Hana Saemon-Beck. “Families were provided with a map of the houses’ locations, as well as instructions on the associated activity, which required participants to note down a word or phrase about the reserve at each stop.”

The Citycare Property native plant fairy house scavenger hunt tasked participants with finding ten fairy houses and four native plants as part of the Summer in the Styx event.

Once families completed the activity, they could return to the Citycare Property stall and receive a native plant seedling —Manuka or Kahikatea — to take home. An additional plant could also be secured if participants identified four specific plants found along the scavenger hunt route.

Enhancing our communities

While Citycare Property’s involvement in the event was primarily overseen by the Community Activation team, led by Hana, several other teams were involved in the execution of the scavenger hunt, including the Open Spaces Management (OSM) team, the Building Maintenance (BM) team and the Executive Leadership Team.

Citycare Property’s OSM Manager plotted each of the fairy houses’ GPS coordinates, which were then overlayed onto a satellite image of the reserve to serve as the map given out to participants.

Meanwhile, Hana sat down with members of the BM team to brainstorm the design of the fairy houses, before handing the project over to the team to work on their construction. 

“It was really great that so many people at Citycare Property wanted to be involved,” says Hana. “I’d like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of everyone involved, both behind the scenes and those who volunteered on the day to ensure the success of the event.” 

Summer in the Styx participants on the hunt for fairy houses.

The Citycare Property team gave out 80 native plants on the day, with Hana reporting that the activity was praised for being both fun and educational. Post the event; additional positive feedback has been received from parents who reported their children immediately planted the seedlings upon arriving home. A great deal of interest has also been expressed in Citycare Property recreating the scavenger hunt with schools and other businesses. 

Caring for our environment

The first Summer in the Styx event was held in 2018 with the goal of getting people involved in conservation by taking part in hands-on activities, says Community Coordinator Jackie Howard. 

“This year, we had a total of 26 stallholders, representing a wide range of community organisations, offering visitors a variety of activities to participate in, including a series of guided walks and kayaking tours, as well as those hosting various educational displays.”

Citycare Property volunteers were on hand to assist with the scavenger hunt and to hand out native seedlings to those who completed it.

Over the course of the four hours, visitors could learn more about: the reserve’s water quality; the creatures that call the reserve home; what’s being done in the areas of predator and pest plant control; traditional Māori medicines; and join with artist-in-residence Bridget Allen in creating prints using dyes made from local plants.

“The feedback we received from those who took part was roundly positive — especially Citycare Property’s scavenger hunt, which was a huge hit, particularly with the children,” says Jackie. “We look forward to partnering again next year to bring an even bigger and better event to the local Belfast community.”