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About Cannons Creek Valley

Porirua

Where three cities meet there is a little-known valley, lying towards the sun on the north-western slopes of the Belmont Hills, Wellington, New Zealand.  There are two little lakes, and a tiny stream which has carved out a wide valley down from the tops.

Once, this valley was full of trees and birdsong.  Hidden here, there are still some fine native New Zealand trees - Tawa, Kohekohe, Pukatea, Kahikatea, white Rata and Nikau palms, with many tree ferns.

Halfway from the heights of Cannons Head (390 m) there is a deep gorge which the stream has cut through a ridge.

Panoramic views from Takapu Track



Panoramic views of the nearby city and the Tasman Sea can be seen from there, for those who venture across country.  Yet the valley, between the cities of Porirua, Wellington and Hutt, is little known as yet.


In early settler times, virgin forest here was milled and burnt, and farming was attempted.  But the stripped soil was poor; farms failed, and land reverted to the Crown.  Now the valley has been retired from farming.

Gorse

Gorse covered slopes

Fire - 2003

Fire - 2003

But gorse soon found the old pastures; possums and other pests took over bush and grassy clearings; while rats, stoats and feral cats took over the birds.  Neglect in all its forms reigned supreme.

Then fire in the gorse became the biggest threat, with severe burns in 1981, 1997 and 2003, killing mature trees.

But, the biggest problem of all is that a main highway is to cross this valley one day.  A 300 metre long viaduct will be built across the gorge.  Streams, hillside, gorge and forest trees will be in danger from roadworks and the traffic that follows.

White rata

White Rata

The valley will change for ever but - what has been damaged can be restored, with the commitment of those who care.

The Friends of Maara Roa are conducting a 20-year restoration project, begun in 2001, to return the valley to what it was before the settlers came.  They are working with the local authorities and owners of the land to clear and replant.

The trees and birdsong will return.