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Home arrow Human Interest arrow Local arrow Sitting ducks
Sitting ducks PDF Print
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Written by Stephanie Chamberlin, New Zealand Geographic   
Friday, 24 January 2014
Sitting ducks

It's a fresh November morning, full of promise and energy, when we visit Ngunguru in Northland to meet Mike Camm.

The environmental advocate and his wife, Jane, live inland from the estuary, tucked among bush-covered hills that today are covered with the white cape of ten thousand manuka. Plunging into bush, we bounce and crackle over a gravel driveway; long-armed ferns overhang the road and light glimmers through the slim trunks of regenerating canopy to either side. Clouds of dust combine with the wild, smoked-honey smell of tea-tree that sweetens the air even inside the Camms' home, angled to the sun in a clearing of fruit trees and gardens.

"We knew we didn't want to grow old in Auckland," says Camm as we stand at his bi-fold doors and drink in the extraordinary bush and coastal view. But his retirement plan went beyond the ordinary. "When we bought these 120 hectares, it was untended farmland of the matchstick and bulldozer variety," he recalls, but as with so much of Northland, there was that sense of a primeval whenua that could be called back into being. The odd kiwi still scratched in the valleys, and the boundary met a similar sized piece of Department of Conservation land.

"We wanted to create our own little national park," he says.

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