News Archive - 2008-2009

Glenview Storage & Workshop Door repair fund - has now reached $330 of $450 needed

Glenview Storage and Workshop

Glenview Storage and Workshop

It has been a great help to our Project that Glenview School has given us free use of their old boiler room to store so much gear - all our tools, stakes, hare protectors, and milk cartons are safe there - and there is work space as well.

But the big lift-up door (a garage door) that gives us entry has become damaged and needs a new frame.

Dorothy and the older women, the Friends who work there, have had a real job getting it open.

The cost to get a new frame fitted is $450, and so far the repair fund has reached $330.

Please can you give a little?

Will you help and make things easier for our volunteers by giving a little koha for a good cause?

And at the same time you weill be helping to repay Glenview School - a really magic little school for the environment (you should see their "Adopt-a-Spot" trees, now!) - thanking them for their generosity to us.

If you would like to donate towards this, so we can get the door fixed by the time school opens or soon after, please send your gift either by cheque to our postal address or contact our Treasurer to arrange an on-line donation, if that is easier for you.  See our Contact Us page for the necessary information.

Not far to go now, and we can get it done!

Last working day - 28 November 2009

A modest turnout of volunteers on our last working day of 2009, Saturday 28 November, rounded off our activities for the year.

Despite poor weather that day we were all pleased as we all looked back at the results of a good year's work.

All 6300 seedlings were planted in 2009, earlier plantings monitored, possum control steadily maintained - with excellent results (almost no possum sign found when monitored last May) - and the hard-working committee and leaders felt justly gratified.

The customary end-of-year Picnic became an indoor shared lunch at the Coordinator's home nearby, and we parted with hearfelt Season's Greetings all round.

Porirua Harbour and Catchment Study and Workshop - Oct/Nov 2009

Porirua Harbour

Porirua Harbour - Polishing the Gem

Some of us were able to attend one or other of the final workshop meetings for this study, held in Linden and at Pataka, Porirua in late November, and organised by the three Councils: Wellington City Council, Porirua City Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council.

Our impression of these were that progress is being made and that we may see some action before long, as some ongoing structures are now in place for the three Local Authorities (Greater Wellington, Wellington City and Porirua City) to actually work together on the problems.

If some real leadership is offered by the Councils together, they will find good support from groups such as ours and from the public generally.

May year 2010 show us real progress, especially on correction of the erosion and pollution of our streams.

Friends of Belmont Regional Park / Friends of Maara Roa guided walks - 21 November 2009

Unfortunately conditions were too unpleasant on the day, so the walks were cancelled.

We did however get some nice articles in the Kapi-Mana News and Hutt News advertising this event.

Hutt News article, 17 November 2009 ]
Kapi-Mana News article, 10 November 2009 ]

Flax planting - 14 November 2009

This day we enjoyed learning about the care of harakeke (NZ flax) from Sarni Scott of Te Wananga o Aotearoa (Porirua Campus).

For those of you who do not know, Ngatitoa and other Maori needing harakeke for arts and crafts, have the right to harvest the flax in the Cannons Creek Lakes Reserve, and we often see evidence that they have been to gather fibres.

We learnt how to thin out old growth and keep the plants healthy, what types of harakeke are used for making various articles and how to collect the leaves without damage, and so on.

About 30 more flax plants were planted by our volunteers and two Wananga students along with Sarni.

For successful future caring of the plants, those sites chosen had to have easy access and no crowding.

Tawa U3A Botanical Group walk - 12 October 2009

Kowhai Grove - Maara Roa

Kowhai Grove - Maara Roa

11 visitors from this group today were conducted on a short tour of the Lakes Reserve and some views of the Maara Roa restoration area from Glenview School.

They looked at:

As a botanical group they were interested in the differing concepts of tree-planting shown in this 10ha urban section of Cannons Creek valley:

  • willows and pines planted by the first farmers in the 1920 - 1940's (early native forest having been all milled and burned in the early 1900's)
  • more pines, gums and other exotics planted in the 1950's - 1970's
  • the change to native trees beginning in the 1970's with Brandon Intermediate School's teacher John Hodges (now a leading light in the Maara Roa project)
  • and finally the move to genuine restoration following bio-diversity principles, from 2000 onwards as City and Regional Councils as well as informed volunteer groups realised the need to restore as much as possible of the original forest cover (as is now being done beyond the Lakes Reserve.)

The group were led by Friends of Maara Roa botanical guides, Neil & Juliet Bellingham and Brenda Johnston.

How do the seedlings get to planting sites? - 21 September 2009

A trailer loaded with seedlings and farm bike, with its own trays of seedlings: 21 September 2009.

A trailer loaded with seedlings and farm bike with its own trays of seedlings.

Ever wondered: "How do the nursery seedlings get onto the planting sites?"

There is no road access to the sites, and it would be impossible for volunteers to carry them all.

The answer is that Greater Wellington Parks' staff help us do it.

They collect seedlings from our nursery at Porirua College, and in some cases, from some Friends volunteer's homes.

They transport them first by one of the Park utes, with trailer well loaded with trays of seedlings, and a farm bike, with its own trays of seedlings tied on, too.

Then, on reaching the Takapu Entrance to the park, the farm bike is put down, the trailer attached to it and reloaded.

Then by a slow journey down the narrow Takapu Track, the men arrive at the main plant depot in the bush.

Friends volunteers meet them and help unload and store the trees.

It is quite a big task!

Planting progress - 19 September 2009

Over 6,000 trees were ready to plant this winter!
As at 19 September, there are about 600 seedlings still to plant!

At mid September we are further ahead at this stage of the planting season than we have been for several years.

This is due to great work by many groups, including our regular and loyal Saturday and mid-week planters.

Regional Council staff supported us right at the beginning of the planting season, and Greater Wellington Parks' staff have transported seedlings and hardware up the hill.

Their help has been crucial.

JOB 4 U?

We have a number of northern rata, totara, matai, and rimu to plant on "micro-sites".  These are selected areas where the regeneration is at the right stage for these species to be restored to the area.

There are also stream bed plants (flax and toetoe) still to put in.

And as 'Maara Roa' is a 'Garden', young trees need looking after.

New volunteers are always welcome.

So, come and help finish the planting, and/or help with tree care, which will continue to the end of November.

Conservation Week - Transition Towns Expo (6-19 September 2009)

Friends of Maara Roa display at Transition Towns Expo

Friends of Maara Roa display at Transition Towns Expo

As part of the Transition Towns Expo held at Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, Friends of Maara Roa had a stand set up showing information about the restoration project and its progress.

Report from Sylvia Jenkin:

I spent 2 hours at the display on Saturday afternoon (14 Sept), my task being to meet and talk to those who came in and stopped to look around the various displays, some useful discussions taking place.

There were not huge numbers passing through, and many who did were with the Transition Towns movement rather than conservation of the natural areas of NZ as we are.

However, DOC, Greater Wellington, Forest and Bird were well represented, and two other community restoration groups had panels directly beside us so we were well placed.

The display looked really nice -- Thanks, Cecilia, you made a lovely job of the layout.

ACC Volunteers - 2 September 2009

Michelle Dearns and her team of ACC Volunteers: 2 September 2009.

Michelle Dearns and her team of ACC Volunteers.
Tree Lucerne, the shelter crop, is in bloom behind them.

An IT staff group from ACC were the latest Corporate Group to volunteer their help to the Maara Roa project.

Friends (Neil and Juliet) met Michelle Dearns and her team.

The group continued work being done on an area to the west of the Takapu Track, near its junction with the Maara Roa track.

The photo background shows lots of Tree Lucerne, our shelter crop previously established, in bloom.

Many, many thanks to the Corporate Groups who have helped us so much this year.

Bank of New Zealand Volunteers - 13 August 2009

BNZ Volunteers on 13 August 2009

BNZ Volunteers on 13 August 2009
Liselle Laurenson, the BNZ group leader, is seated in front.
Des and Neil from the Friends, are at left of the back row.

[See photos of them in action.]

Volunteers from the Bank of New Zealand gave us their "Volunteer Day" to help the project on Thursday 13th August.

Des and Neil from the Friends, joined Liselle Laurenson, and her BNZ group to do some tree planting near the area destroyed by the 2003 fire.

See photos of them in action.

The BNZ volunteers came to us through Volunteer Wellington's "Employees In The Community" programme

Thanks, Volunteer Wellington!  We appreciate your liaison work very much.

Wellington SPCA Volunteers - 8 August 2009

Wellington SPCA Volunteers came to help with planting trees on Saturday 8th August.

Neil, Juliet, Brenda and Des from the Friends met them and a solid day's work from 9.30 a.m. through to 2.30 p.m. resulted in more dense plantings on an area known informally as "The Island", which was badly damaged in the 2003 Fire.

The weather was great and the SPCA staff had reason to look pleased with their efforts at the end of the day.

Corrections Dept. Porirua - 8 August 2009

Corrections Dept. Porirua came for the first time this year on Saturday 8th August, with 18 community work folk and two supervisors.

This is the third season that they have worked for the Project, and we are glad of their help too.

Report of Annual General Meeting - 8 July 2009

The Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Maara Roa Society was held on Wednesday 8th July at the Lounge, Tawa Union Church, Tawa.

Keith Nicoll, in his Annual Report from the Chair, emphasised the need to consider the future direction of the Friends because the 2001 Cannons Creek Restoration and Development Plan (including the funding allocation by Greater Wellington), runs out at June 30th 2010.  A review is needed now, and a plan developed for the future.

The future of the Maara Roa project is in the hands of those members and supporters of the Society who are keen enough and prepared to put the effort in to continue its work.

Brenda Stickley

Brenda Stickley

A presentation was made to Brenda Stickley, who has stood down from the Committee after 10 years' service.  She was a founding member of the "Cannons Creek Valley Protection Group" in 1999, and Treasurer and Minute Secretary since 2000.

Brenda has also been a Guide for the public walks since 1999, and has been co-Manager of the Nursery at Porirua College since its inception.

Brenda's role has been a great strength to the Society, and we are glad she will remain a Member.

Dr. Philippa Crisp (Greater Wellington Parks staff) as the Guest Speaker for the meeting, spoke about the bio-diversity work of Greater Wellington Regional Council.

This work involves monitoring all the Regional Parks and Forests, streams, wetlands and coastal areas, to protect and maintain the health of this natural environment.

The Maara Roa project falls within the general oversight of this work - specifically in two areas.  Firstly, with the pest plants and pest animal control programmes we take part in as volunteers.  Secondly, in terms of our own bio-diversity principles for the forest restoration, such as careful eco-sourcing of all seedlings we grow on and plant.

Dr Crisp's talk ended with a lively discussion during question time, before the meeting concluded and supper was served.

Nature Walk signs - July 2009

Nature Walk sign: Horoeka - Lancewood

Nature Walk sign: Horoeka - Lancewood

We have begun work on a short nature walk on the loop track from the edge of the covenant in to the "Rata Clearing" and back via the "waterfall".

At the Rata Clearing and nearby we are placing plant labels and descriptions made by the Auckland firm Metal Image.

By February 2009, we had placed labels for Horoeka and Mahoe. Since then we've done labels for: Kohekohe, Tawa, Totara, Rimu, Whauwhaupaku, Karamu, Kohuhu, Makomako and Tarata.

About six more will follow next summer.

However, the track still needs some work on it — removal of roots, levelling and improving the grades.


Kiwi Conservation Club kids get planting - 27 June 2009

Kiwi Conservation Club kids get planting on 27 June 2009

Kiwi Conservation Club kids get planting on 27 June 2009.

In spite of cold and showery weather, a small group of hardy children, aged between 3 and 7 years, and their parents, all from the Kiwi Conservation Club, walked all the way down the muddy track from the Takapu park entrance, to the latest area of planting in the valley.

For the first time, these kids learnt how to plant trees, as well as protect them from weeds and animal pests while they grow.

Afterwards they enjoyed a snack and a drink, then went to see the new Nature Walk in the bush.

Then, they trudged all the way back up the long uphill route to their cars - over a kilometre away.

Tired boys and girls would sleep well that night! and dream of that day's big adventure!


Greater Wellington staff, Friends and volunteers get 2009 plantings started - 20 June 2009

Honda Tree Fund planting day 20 June 2009: GW staff, Friends, and volunteers

Honda Tree Fund planting day 20 June 2009: GW staff, Friends, and volunteers.

[Larger image]

Unfortunately the bitter cold temperatures and frequent showers meant that Honda Cars' volunteers decided not to come to this event.

Hopefully their 3 other similar plantings planned for this winter at other sites will have less inclement weather.

However, Honda provided funding for the costs of some of the trees and the hire of a post-hole auger to dig over 1000 holes for this planting.

With so many trees to plant, they were taken up to the site on 3 different occasions by the Park Ranger, and deposited in small lots along the length of the site in the shelter of previous plantings.

Seven staff from Greater Wellington gave their assistance to the project that day, too.

Even so, 18 people (see group photo) did a great job from 9.30 till noon, then enjoyed hot drinks and muffins provided by Greater Wellington in a more sheltered area of the Park.

The Friends of Maara Roa will finish planting the remainder of the 1500, over the next few weeks.

Matariki Week - 'Restoring the Bush in Cannons Creek' talk and display - 13 June 2009

Porirua Public Library recognised Matariki Week (8-14 June 2009) with a week of talks and activities centred on the natural world and our relationship to it. 

On Saturday, 13 June Friends of Maara Roa provided a display, and Sylvia Jenkin spoke on "Restoring the Bush in Cannons Creek", highlighting the efforts being put into the Maara Roa project. 

Primary Schools' "Adopt-a-Spot" site plantings - 8-12 June 2009

Over 500 trees were planted during this week by children and teachers from Glenview, Maraeroa, Cannons Creek, Russell and Windley primary schools - the 5 nearest schools to Cannons Creek Reserve and valley.

Adopt-a-Spot marker pole (Pou) used by schools - see efforts, press publicity and photos from previous years

Marker pole (Pou) used by schools.

See efforts of previous years.

Each school has its own adopted site.

The trees were donated by Keep Porirua Beautiful, and Porirua City Council sent experienced staff to assist them.

By a miracle, it did not rain on any of the groups at the time of their plantings - though it had rained almost all the rest of the week!

This is the eighth year the schools have done this - some have not managed to plant trees every year, but nevertheless all 5 sites now have substantial trees growing on them.

Their plantings beautify an area you may not have visited: all 5 sites can be found down an Entrance to the Park off Bedford Street, just two doors down from Glenview School entrance.

Some years ago we had 5 large Marker Poles (pou) carved, one for each site, with the school name carved into the pole to identify the school concerned.

Four of the pou are quite easily seen, but Glenview's is now well hidden among the first trees they planted.

The theme for the Adopt-A-Spot programme for these schools is, "Watch Your Trees Grow".

It is great to see how well all these trees have grown.

We hope the children can see that too, as they come year after year.

See "Adopt-a-Spot" - efforts, press publicity and photos from previous years.

Brandon Intermediate School - plantings for 2009

John Hodges received a Wellington Conservation Award in 2003.

(L to R) Conservation Minister, Chris Carter, presented a 2003 Wellington Conservation Award to Porirua teacher John Hodges, for "long-term commitment to restoration and education".

Source: Footnotes, Issue 20, 20 October 2003, page 10

Brandon Intermediate School, during the week of 8-12 June 2009, planted another area adjacent to the Kowhai Grove in the Lakes Reserve, below their school boundary.

This is something to celebrate for John Hodges, whose vision it was to cover that whole area - 6 metres high slopes by approx. 500 metres long - to beautify the park.

This latest planting completed the whole vision that John had as a teacher there in the 1970's onwards - to plant right round the school's boundary with the Reserve.

It has involved almost every student at that school for the past 30 years.

The children who planted with John when he was a younger man teaching at that school, have now seen their own children go out and plant as well!

Congrats again, and bravo John!

Arbor Day 2009 celebration - 6 June 2009

Kowhai Grove - Maara Roa

Kowhai Grove - Maara Roa

[See more photos.]

We had a good turnout for Arbor Day, with 250 trees planted up the sides of the tracks, and 100 at the Kowhai Grove.

Ground cover plants were put under the kowhais, intended to supplant the grass and weeds eventually.

We planted rengarenga, carex secta (a grassy plant) and coprosma propinqua.

See more photos.

'Porirua Stream Catchment restoration' site visits - March 2009

Last year Porirua City Council perswauded Greater Wellington and Wellington City Council to participate in a joint study to discover factors that are leading to the silting up and pollution of the Porirua Harbour (Onepoto Arm).

The major contributor to this is the Porirua Stream and all its side streams, from Churton Park and Newslands through Tawa, and including the Kenepuru Stream from Ascot Park and Aotea with its largest input, Cannons Creek, draining off the Belmont Hills.

We had several meetings with consultants last year and are awaiting their report.

Meanwhile Sylvia has conducted 3 site visits for "VIP's" - including the Wellington and Porirua City Mayors, and other Councillors - enabling them to get a picture of our whole valley that not one of them had had before.

Many asked for more background information, which was forwarded.

Maara Roa Loop Walk - 8 February 2009

Maara Roa Loop Walk starts at Takapu Road entrance to Belmont Regional Park

Maara Roa Loop Walk starts at Takapu Road entrance to Belmont Regional Park.

[More photos from the walk]

The Maara Roa Loop Walk takes people right round the present project area so we can show them the full extent of our restoration work, and as much of the natural bush remnant as we can access as yet.

For the first time this year, we had a manageable route for walkers to get down to see the little waterfall in the Cannons Creek Conservation Covenant, thanks to a lot of work done by Neil and other volunteers, including some of the Price Waterhouse Coopers staff who came on their Volunteer Day last year - 21 November 2008.

That "cascade" is a pretty little feature, and it is good to be able to show it to folk at last.

We must also be thankful that the 2003 fire did not penetrate as far as the mature forest trees in that area.

Photos taken throughout this whole walk can be viewed from our Photo Gallery - Walks items.

Also read the article by Dave Hansford 29 December 2005, Dominion Post :: A little bit of everything.


Rata Community Partnership Award - 5 November 2008

In a Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) ceremony to honour environmental champions, MIRO was named joint winner of the Rata Community Partnership Award with Friends of Maara Roa.

Nov 5, 2008: The Friends of Maara Roa's Denise Watts, Brenda Stickley and Lisa Webber

Denise Watts, Brenda Stickley and Lisa Webber receiving the certificate and cheque

[Larger image]

Award citations said MIRO's pest control work in East Harbour Regional Park has made a huge difference.  Over the last four years alone, some 1,850 possums have been removed, "equating to a saving of 500kg of leaves, flowers and fruit every night".  Earlier this year MIRO won Department of Conservation permission to reintroduce 40 North Island robin (Toutouwai) into the park — the first time that the bird species has been seen in the district for a century.

Friends of Maara Roa have been undertaking bush restoration and predator control in Belmont Regional Park and the adjoining Cannons Creek Lakes Reserve since 1999 "and (it's) already making a considerable difference," the GWRC says.

Native trees are returning thanks to a rigorous planting programme; pest animals and weeds have been greatly reduced; new tracks have been developed to enhance public access; the freshwater wetland has been improved.

"Although undertaking quite different projects, the two groups scored highest in all the assessment criteria, and judges were unable to separate them," the council says.
Hutt News article, 11 November 2008 ]
Kapi-Mana News article, 13 November 2008 ]
GWRC website article, 5 November 2008 ]
Dec 2008/Jan 2009, Our Region: News from the GWRCouncil ]