About Us - The Friends of Maara Roa

The Cannons Creek Valley

The Cannons Creek Valley used to be full of native bush - trees and birds abounded.  Then the settlers came.

The poor soil of the Valley was wrecked by attempts at farming.  It was then abandoned.  Then came vermin and weeds.  Then it burned.

No-one cared, until the turn of the century.

The Friends of Maara Roa was formed to conduct a 20-year restoration project to return the Cannons Creek Valley to what it was before the settlers came.  We are working with the local authorities and owners of the land to clear and replant.

We are going to create a place where people can see how it was, and enjoy its beauty again.

The Maara Roa Name

The story is told that in former times a Maori woman, name unknown, tended a garden on a long strip of land somewhere in the northern side of this valley.  She grew fruit and vegetables there, and shared them generously with Maori and Pakeha alike.

So well-known did she become for her hospitality, that travellers called her home "The Long Garden" - Maara Roa.

The nearby Marae has honoured her by naming the Wharenui "Ukaipo Hiato" - the gathering place of the mother who provides for all the people.

The Friends of Maara Roa - "Nga Hoa o Maara Roa" - intend to recreate a forest "garden" here, whose pleasures can be similarly shared by all in years to come.

Recovering Tawa Tree

Our logo is based on a very gaunt old Tawa tree standing in an area where everything else has been burnt so many times.

It has great bare arms reaching upwards, yet it has leaves on one side, showing life still there.  This represents the "before" and "after" of our restoration project.


Friends of Maara Roa Inc

We are a group of people from Porirua City and Tawa, Wellington.  We set up a restoration and development society (Friends of Maara Roa Inc) to bring the public on board.  We have done much, and things are happening now....

What We Do


Development Timeline

From 2001 there have been a number of events that have or will effect restoration and development in the catchment:


  • Keep Porirua Beautiful and the Friends of Maara Roa invited the 5 nearest primary schools to 'Adopt-A-Spot' each in the Cannons Creek Lakes Reserve, and with the support of Porirua City Council (PCC), have worked each year with plantings in the selected areas. This 10-year programme concluded in 2011 with a Celebration and giving of Mayoral awards to the schools.
  • The Friends started revegetation plantings with financial support from GWRC and using the CCR&D 2001 as a guide.
  • Possum control was started by the Park Ranger.


  • The Friends took over possum control following cutting of bait station access lines and installation of 56 bait stations across the restoration area and adjacent area west of the catchment by GWRC Biodiversity.


  • In March a fire burnt across 6.5 hectares of revegetation plantings, rank grass and gorse scrub from the southern edge of Cannons Creek Lakes Reserve upslope to and along the west side of the Cannons Creek tawa-kohekohe bush remnant.
  • In April the Friends adopted and began implementing their "Green Firebreaks" Plan. This is the replacing of gorse and rank grass with fire resistant native vegetation where the risk of fires being started is high or where the consequences of damage by fire are high.
  • Porirua College provided facilities for a "Trees for Survival" native plant nursery within the College walls. This nursery, mostly managed by volunteers from the Friends, has grown-on an average of 4000 to 5000 seedlings per year for planting out into the restoration area, as well as trees for the College and other school grounds.
  • GWRC developed the Takapu Track crossing Cannons Creek and up to Takapu Road. Provision of this track has led to increased recreational use of the area.


  • Kereru are first noticed within the restoration area
  • In early 2004 a series of heavy rainfalls and consequent floods deposited a wedge of coarse and fine sediment across the Cannons Creek valley floor up to about 400mm deep at, and upstream of, the retention basin lakes in Cannons Creek Lakes Reserve. This sediment covered much of the wetland on the valley floor and partially filled in the upper lake in Cannons Lakes Reserve. The debris came from erosion of the stream channel and some small 'slips' into the stream and the retention basins performed as intended.


  • Ownership of the middle catchment passed from the Crown to GWRC with Landcorp Farming NZ Ltd changing from land manager to pastoral leaseholder. While this land was already incorporated into Belmont Regional Park, the change in ownership has given GWRC control over how the area is managed.
  • Kereru were observed nesting deep in the Cannons Creek covenant. These birds had not been seen nesting in the Valley in living memory. Their nesting is a sign of the success of the possum control work.


  • GWRC formally adopted a policy to use eco-sourced native plant material where feasible. This confirmed practice by the Friends within the restoration area. Their commitment is to follow bio-diversity principles.
  • A gorse and grass fire burnt across about 8 hectares of farmland in the nearby Waihora gully. It was controlled when it threatened power lines and farm buildings.


  • GWRC adopted a region-wide Pest Management Strategy for problem weeds and animal pests. This was used to allocate resources and set the baseline level of weed and pest control provided by GWRC in the restoration area.
  • The abandoned farm road between the Waihora gully pylon road and the Maara Roa Track, in the restoration area, was modified to prevent motor bike and vehicle passage and vegetation control stopped. The risk of a fire being started along it seems to have been reduced as it is now no longer passable and it appears school children and other risky people are not entering the area.


  • The Friends, following concern about stream erosion below the Cannons Creek culvert under the Takapu – Duck Creek farm road, obtained a pro bono report from Opus International regarding the volume and velocity of runoff in the upper catchment and the functioning of this culvert. Copies were given to GWRC and the Porirua Harbour and Catchment Strategy Planning group.


  • Porirua City Council (PCC) initiated the Porirua Stream Catchment study, including the Friends of Maara Roa in the consultations for what is now the Porirua Harbour and Catchment Strategy Plan, now to be actioned jointly by PCC, Wellington City Council (WCC) and GWRC. This Plan includes all catchments of the western side of Belmont Regional Park and advocates for sediment control and ecological restoration within the catchments
  • PCC commissioned the Cannons Creek Lakes Reserve Ecological and Landscape Issues and Options Report. Following receipt of the report and stakeholder consultation PCC stated their intention to manage the reserve towards a natural forested state.
  • The government funded investigations to provide information to inform detailed design of the Transmission Gully motorway. New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) have indicated there will be provision for public crossings of the motorway on either side of the Cannons Creek gorge under the viaduct crossing it. This will require substantial change to the alignment of the two public paths either side of Cannons Creek that currently provide access from Porirua city to the Wellington (Takapu) Entrance into Belmont Regional Park and beyond.


  • GWRC adopted the Parks Network Management Plan. This includes Belmont Regional Park. An ecological link is proposed extending upstream from Cannons Creek Lakes Reserve across to the Korokoro catchment, east of Cannons Head.
  • In September, Friends of Maara Roa, assisted by GWRC, held a public celebration of the 10th Year Anniversary of the Restoration Project. The Friends also symbolically handed over upkeep of the Kowhai Grove and their other plantings in Cannons Creek Lakes Reserve to Porirua City Council.
  • GWRC commissioned a sustainable farm management plan which includes the grazed areas covered in this review. At the time of this review the Plan has not been adopted. It will primarily impact farm management upstream of the proposed motorway. These slopes and the slopes above the eastern conservation covenant may be more or less restored to native vegetation.


  • Large nor-west face planted with 3500 trees and mixture of tree lucerne. A sucessfull year due to a wet summer.
  • In 2011 GWRC adopted its Biodiversity Strategy which allocates resources according to regional biodiversity significance. This may affect future Biodiversity resourcing of plant and animal pest control associated with the restoration area.


  • The final nor-west bank is planted above the track.
  • Two Whiteheads (Mohoua albicilla, a small native bird) were photographed for the first time in the restoration area. Intensive possum and rat control has enabled small populations of resident and reintroduced native birds to recolonise the Wellington area.
  • The possum control bait station network was inspected and brought to specification by GWRC staff.
  • The plant nursery was shifted to Aotea College.


  • A record year for Rata. The first rata planted about "Richard's Seat", flower. White Rata vine is seen flowering above Kohekohe in three locations in the old remnant bush.