Veronika is a member of the local community, owning a lifestyle block with her husband, Jens, on Long Valley Road, dissected by Atahau Creek. Previously a teacher, Veronika now homeschools their children, Corbinian, Kassander and Cecilia. The children have come to know the stream and its inhabitants quite well during the years, as they love to explore it, she says.
"We have seen, firsthand, the diversity our backyard holds and its importance to the bigger picture and surrounding environment," Veronika says.
She became involved in Te Hoiere Project when the family participated in the Rai Valley Stream Health Monitoring Project in 2021.
“The freshwater monitoring showed us the stream was in good condition, but it would benefit from native planting to cool the summer temperature down,” says Veronika.
The Merkle family is now embarking on its own difficult restoration project, trying to combat invasive ivy, old man’s beard and blackberry while planting native trees.
Veronika is keen to support the Kaituna/Okaramio community and talk to landowners on how they can get involved in Te Hoiere Project, both at an individual level and to explore if there are any community projects the catchment could get involved in.
Photos below, Veronika and her family are undertaking restoration on their property.