Anna Maria Fomison
Anna has lived in West Auckland since 1980. Born in Christchurch and used to the flat, open spaces of Canterbury, the landscape and bush of the north made a huge impact on her. “I remember the mixture of awe and sadness I felt on seeing the northern landscape. I was amazed to see the lush bush and horrified to see the huge scars left by our pioneering ancestors. How did we manage to change the nature of the landscape so much in such a relatively short time?”
Anna currently freelances as an event/marketing manager, writer, editor and oral historian. She has an MA (Hons) in English from the University of Canterbury and trained as a secondary school teacher in Christchurch. Her main interest is in the role of public advocacy and Anna sees her contribution to the Society in organising events and displays, presenting and communicating with the community.
Since 1989 she has lived in Sunnyvale on the sunny side of the Waikumete hill. The creek that runs through the bottom of her property is a tributary of the Waikumete Steam and is associated with the Twin Streams Restoration Project. She has been involved with the replanting of the riparian margin with native plants to assist the bird corridor.
“Last year I flew back into Auckland and as the aeroplane did the big sweep over the Waitakere Ranges and I saw them from that bird’s eye perspective, I was once again impressed with what a treasure they are but how vulnerable! It is a responsibility to future generations to do whatever we can to protect this wonderful remnant of the great forests from the current climate of short-sighted vision. It’s an honour and a privilege to be able to contribute to helping protect such a wonderful landscape.”
What makes a non-accountant take on the office of Treasurer? A passionate interest in native plants perhaps? Not very likely, you would think, but there is a logical basis for it.
Having arrived in New Zealand from Australia 40 years ago, completely ignorant of all things botanical, Sandra and her husband bought a Titirangi bach that was surrounded by 0.2 ha of native bush. A very real fear of the busy bulldozers in the area at the time spurred them into purchasing a 0.4 ha block next door in 1980 and an optimistic view of the future encouraged them to place a Queen Elizabeth II National Trust covenant on the bush to save it in perpetuity.
After Sandra moved to Titirangi, a passing interest in identifying all the species within the boundaries of the property gradually developed into a broader interest in the Waitakere bush. With knowledge came the realisation of a paradox – while the bush has an amazing natural resilience it is also very vulnerable to both direct and indirect effects of human activities.
So, over the years, Sandra has been actively involved in a number of conservation and like-minded organisations. Although a member of WRPS for many years, she has only been in the Treasurer’s role for 10 years. Sandra is an Honorary Life Member of the Auckland Botanical Society having served as Secretary for eighteen years, followed by a term as Vice-President. She has also served on the Committee of the West Auckland Branch of the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, and as Secretary and Trustee of the New Zealand Native Forests Restoration Trust.
Over the years, Sandra has botanised most of the tracks in the Waitakere Ranges, many of them numerous times. A list-maker by nature, she has kept detailed botanical records of the Waitakeres for thirty-five years. A few years ago, Sandra and two botanical friends, Waitakere residents Anne Grace and Harry Beacham, began the task of recording (using a hand-held GPS) the location of rare plants in the Waitakeres, particularly those in vulnerable positions on track-sides, for the Auckland Regional Council Parks Service and Department of Conservation records.
Sandra’s dream is that one day Bill Gates will toss her a coin (a $US2b one would be nice to be getting on with). It might not save the world or even solve Auckland’s transport problems, but think what it could do for the Waitakeres! In the meantime, and in the real world, she does what she can.