News Archive - 2011

End of Year Picnic for Members and Supporters - 26 November 2011

End of Year shared picnic lunch

End of Year shared picnic lunch

Saturday 26th November dawned sunny and warm for our End of Year Picnic for Members and Supporters.

There were tree care working bees in the morning in the main planting area, and in the special Kowhai Grove in the Lake Reserve.

Afterwards, everyone gathered for a shared lunch in the sheltered Picnic Clearing adjacent to the Kowhai Grove.

In review, 2011 has been a very good year.

5,000 trees have been planted, growth has been amazing, the possums have been kept at bay, and the Bird Survey and Human Birds programmes were quietly carried out.

And of special note, we had the great celebration in June, when more than 200 children, teachers and visitors gathered for an Award Ceremony to celebrate with 5 Primary Schools, the completion of their 10-Years' Adopt-A-Spot Programme.

Human Birds - 26 November 2011

Programme leader, Andy shows where he placed seed patties under a tree lucerne, so their 'breakdown' can be monitored.

Programme leader, Andy shows where he placed seed patties under a tree lucerne, so their 'breakdown' can be monitored.

More photos in the photo gallery.

This year, the Human Birds programme started early – in January – and led by our passionate Andy, seed collection took place right through the summer.

We were a bit sorry that the locals who came last year did not come again this year, so collectors were few; nevertheless the number and variety of seeds collected was amazing.

During the winter Andy cleaned and prepared them, and on Sunday, 13th November some of the committee got together and made the seedballs – well, no we didn’t – this year we made seed Frisbees! (Rather more like patties, actually!)

Andy wants to monitor closely the germination of seeds distributed this way, so thin, pikelet-sized rounds of modelling clay were shaped, and the seeds and potting mix gently enclosed between the sealed edges.

On Saturday 26th November these were placed in marked sites around the bush remnant where they can be easily monitored.

Thanks, everyone! All this year's trees safe in the ground! - 21 November 2011

Click to get bigger image: Panorama from Glenview School 2011

Panorama from Glenview School 2011

A combination of lots of hard work and excellent weather for most planting days mean that we have completed all the planting planned for this year: 5,000 native trees and shrubs.

Regular rain and warm temperatures are encouraging growth and our valley looks fabulous.

Congratulations to everyone who has played a part in our work this year: planters, nursery workers, possum control team, the Glenview group, seed collectors, our various committees; and John Hodges' spraying – slashing – hole digging workers have done a brilliant job of preparing our sites.

Special thanks to our web-master Susan who has made our website attractive and informative, helping to spread the word about our conservation project.  We are getting an increasing number of enquiries through the website.

New areas cleared by teams from Community Services will give us a head-start next year.  We salute the work you do for us and particularly thank supervisors Eddie and Busby.

Volunteer Porirua and Volunteer Wellington have both encouraged groups and individuals to help our project – thanks to everybody involved.  Volunteers that they find for us have made a huge contribution this year!

Greater Wellington Regional Council have continued to support us generously, and to provide help and advice.

Keep Porirua Beautiful and Hutt-Mana Charitable Trust have both provided welcome funding this year.

Thanks, everyone!

Bird Survey - 6 November 2011

Click to get bigger image: Tui. Copyright: Alison Griffiths, Radiant Photography, Auckland


Copyright: Alison Griffiths,
Radiant Photography, Auckland

At very short notice, ornithologist Ian Armitage from Tawa, a member of the Wellington branch of the Ornithological Society, has just helped us re-establish our 5-yearly Bird Survey.  Previous surveys were done in 2001 and 2006.

A small group of Friends and Ian went up from the Lakes Reserve, starting at 8 a.m.  Sylvia showed them the location of the first 3 sites that Hugh and Richard Robertson had set up.  Then they had to find 3 more in the Cannons Creek Covenant by using distance measurement.

By agreement these have been changed to sites which are better known and easier to access, and Ian has also given us fuller instructions on how to do this type of Survey again in 2016.

We're gratefully for Ian's expertise and leadership, as it was obvious that bird recognition and identification is really hard unless you are pretty experienced, especially in a bush-covered area.

Tui numbers have increased.  But, disappointingly, no kereru were reported at the survey sites, even though they have been around in good numbers.  No pukeko were seen either.

Volunteers from CQ Hotel (Trekkers), Cuba Street - 26 October 2011

Volunteers from CQ (Trekkers) Hotel

Volunteers from CQ (Trekkers) Hotel

More images in:
Tree Planting - Photo Gallery

Our last corporate group for the year, CQ Hotel (Trekkers) in Cuba Sreet, found us on the web and came on Wednesday 26 October.

Six energetic volunteers helped us plant some dominant tawa trees in sheltered sites around the Totara Knoll, and left only a few other trees for the next Saturday's planters.

Our warmest thanks to these volunteers!

International Exchange Students from Victoria University - 1 October 2011

Victoria University Students - from Italy

Students from Italy

Victoria University Students - from China

Students from China

A large group (over 30) international exchange students from Victoria University visited the restoration area on Saturday October 1st.

They helped the Friends with planting work, in a newly cleared area close to the Conservation Covenant bush.

Then they went on guided walks into the tawa-kohekohe remnant (still untracked) to see the mature trees there.

Each nationality worked and walked as a group.

None of them had seen New Zealand bush being restored before, especially not so close to urban living.

Maara Roa is increasingly popular for visitors as it is handy to Wellington, there is no entry fee, and they may even be able to plant a tree or two.

Love This Valley - It's Yours: Conservation Week ending 18 September 2011

OPUS International Volunteers - 17 September 2011

OPUS International Volunteers - 17 September 2011

More images in Tree Planting - Photo Gallery

Conservation Week, 11-18 Sep 2011

Conservation Week is a promotion by the Department of Conservation to encourage Kiwis to get into caring for nature, on land or sea, and also for our human heritage from ancient pa sites to restored railways.

The theme this year was "Love Your Country", and the Friends used the special DOC webpages to advertise our activities.

8 Volunteers from ANZ Bank came on Friday 16 September, and another group (17 including 4 children) from OPUS International on Saturday 17th, swelled our regular volunteer numbers.  Several other folk came to help on the Saturday as well.

The ANZ volunteers worked hard planting near the "East Bowl", as well as adding lots of cardboard collars to recently planted Tree Lucerne.

The OPUS International group worked on enrichment planting on the "Island" and along trackside banks.

This group had been rained off in August, so everyone enjoyed the beautiful sunny day.  The OPUS International group brought lunch, so stayed on till 2.30pm with the Friends -- a big help.

As well as the tree planting, some visitors were shown the nearby natural bush remnant.

Including our regular planting day on September 3rd, where 11 Friends got stuck in for the morning, over 600 tree seedlings were planted in September, which was mild and sunny in our valley.

We hope all the other conservation groups in New Zealand did as well!

Trees planted for 2011 - 13 September 2011

As of today, we have about 1200 trees still to plant, and estimate we have planted 3,500 so far this year with our own planters, various volunteer groups and help from Corrections teams.  So about three quarters done!

There are volunteer groups coming this Friday 16th (ANZ), Saturday 17th (OPUS) and then Victoria students on Saturday 1 October, so fingers crossed for sunshine, so we get the rest planted!

Contact Energy Volunteers - 15 July 2011

Contact Energy Volunteers - 15 July 2011

Contact Energy Volunteers - 15 July 2011

More images in Tree Planting - Photo Gallery

Those pink gloves!

Those pink gloves!

Clinton's new 8-legged friend!

Clinton's new 8-legged friend!

Our warmest thanks to all our volunteers from Contact Energy.

We were lucky to have such a beautiful sunny day, and with their help, we planted about 300 trees in the area we were working on.

On top of which, a good number of trees planted previously were nurtured with cardboard collars and plastic sleeves to protect them from wind and rabbits!

This was a terrific result!

Topics of great discussion and some amusement - those pink gloves worn by Denis!

But he had the last laugh!  Those gloves were very effective!  Others suffered from multiple gorse splinters in fingers and the tops of hands - Denis only had one splinter!

And then there was Clinton's new found friend: a big spider which had taken refuge on his trousers!

Thank you all for the hard work you all put in.

MetService Community Service Day at Maara Roa - 6 July 2011

MetService volunteers spent their Community Service Day helping at Maara Roa - 6 July 2011

MetService volunteers spent their
Community Service Day helping at Maara Roa.
Gerard Bellam is 2nd from left - 6 July 2011

More images in Tree Planting - Photo Gallery

On Wednesday, 6 July, for the third year, a team of volunteers from MetService, spent part of their Community Services Day helping on the Maara Roa project.

This time, they continued with planting in the area with the holes pre-dug, which we commenced on the Honda TreeFund Planting Day.

Here is how MetService organiser, Gerard Bellam, described their day:

On the 6th July, staff from the MetService (Paul Ngamanu, Gerard Bellam, Ian Gall, Geoff Sanders and Paul Bruce, plus Daniel Bellam (Gerard's son on University Holidays), spent another mostly sunny, mild day working on the Maara Roa project in Cannons Creek, Porirua.  Numbers were down as 4 other staffers stayed home with sickness.

In 2010 we spent our time weeding native plants.  This year we were into the planting of a variety of native plants.

To give the plants some protection from possums, hares and aggressive grass, cardboard collars are placed on the ground around each plant, a couple of steel stakes were driven into the ground, and a plastic sheath slid over the steel "frame" to form a mini "greenhouse".  See more images.

With assistance from Friends of Maara Roa, Neil and Juliet Bellingham, Des, and Sylvia Jenkin, we planted, and "housed" 350 native plants.  Very satisfying to see the result!

During the session after lunch, we all seemed to get the "speed work" combining nicely with a quality planting technique.

At 3pm we washed up and then headed down to Shelly Bay, Whitireia Park, Porirua to do a beach cleanup. With rubblish bags and gloves supplied by John Poppleton from "Keep Porirua Beautiful" Poriria City Council we scoured the windy coast for rubbish. We left the filled bags on site for Porirua Council staff to pick up.

Good job folks!  And next year we plan to get more staff involved.

Thanks, guys!  Your efforts are appreciated!

Honda TreeFund Planting Day - 25 June 2011

Thank you, planters! You all really earned your refreshments today - 25 June 2011.

Thank you, planters! You all really earned your refreshments today - 25 June 2011.

More images in Tree Planting - Photo Gallery

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL — Our best planting effort yet!!!  Thanks to all who contributed.  Altogether, there were 20 people present that day, including Belmont Park ranger Jeremy Paterson, Barry Straight, and Ross Jackson our Advisor (all from GWRP).

A reasonably accurate tally of plants planted on Saturday 25th June was 1,060 — our best total ever. 

Congratulations and thanks to all planters, and to the Porirua Canoe and Kayak Club who cleared gorse and dug holes, and to GWRP staff for transport, tea and buns, and other encouragements.

Having the holes pre-dug makes a dramatic difference in the speed of planting, and hence numbers planted:

1,060 plants between 20 people over 4 hours means on average more than 13 plants per hour per person.  They worked hard!

If volunteers have to dig holes as well, the average drops to 4-5 plants per hour per person.

Congratulations, too, to our indefatigable Planting team organiser Neil Bellingham, for all his preparation beforehand and leadership on the day.

And an especially big thanks to Honda NZ, as our Maara Roa project benefitted from the donation of plants funded by the Honda TreeFund.

Seed collecting (II) - 12 June 2011

Rimu (top) and Kahikatea (bottom) foliage and seeds

Rimu (top) and Kahikatea (bottom)
foliage and seeds.

Mature rimu and kahikatea have scale leaves on their branchlets and produce swollen, fruit-like structures (receptacles) to support and partially protect their seeds. 
Rimu seeds, borne on the tips of upturned branchlets, take about 18 months to ripen after pollination. 
Kahikatea seeds develop a bluish bloom as they ripen, some six months after pollination. 
Birds eat the seeds and fleshy receptacles, and distribute the seeds which pass through their digestive system intact.
The Encyclodpedia of NZ (]

As part of the Human Birds programme, a collection of seeds is ready for the next stage of the preparation for dispersal.

The 1st number indicates the number of plants collected from.  The 2nd, the estimated number of seeds.

  • Aristotelia serrata (makomako, wineberry) ::  15+  100+
  • Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta, marbleleaf) ::  5+  ?
  • Coprosma areolata ::  15+  100+
  • Coprosma cunninghamii ::  15+  100+
  • Coprosma grandifolia ::  5+  100+
  • Coprosma rhamanioides (thorny coprosma) ::  15+  1,000+
  • Coprosma robusta (karamu) ::  15+  1,000+
  • Cordyline australis (ti kouka, cabbage tree) ::  5+  1,000+
  • Dacrycarpus dacryioides (kahikatea, white pine) ::  ?  100+
  • Geniestoma ligustrifolium (hangehange, maori privet) ::  15+  1,000+
  • Leptospermum scoparium (manuka, tea tree) ::  15+  1,000+
  • Macropiper excelsum (kawakawa, pepper tree) ::  15+  100+
  • Melicope ternata ::  5+ 100+
  • Melicytus ramiflorus (mahoe, whiteywood) ::  15+  1,000+
  • Myrsine australis (mapou, red matipo) ::  15+  1,000+
  • Phormium cookianum (mountain flax, wharariki) ::  5  1,000+
  • Pittosporum eugenioides (tarata, lemonwood) ::  15+  1,000+
  • Pittosporum tenuifolium (kohuhu / kohukohu, black matipo) ::  15+  1,000+
  • Pseudopanax arboreus (whauwhaupaku, fivefinger) ::  15+  1,000+
  • Solanum lacciniatum (poroporo) ::  15+  1,000+

Refer to our "What we plant and protect" page to help you with identifying those plants (as many as possible) that we are using (planting) or protecting in this project.

Schools' 10th year Adopt-a-Spot celebrations - 10 June 2011

Porirua City Mayor, Nick Leggett

Porirua City Mayor,
Nick Leggett

Glenview School's Enviroschools Gold banner

Glenview School's Enviroschools Gold banner

Read the article about their "Green Gold flag"
20 Dec 2010, DomPost :: School flies Green Gold flag with pride

See our photo gallery:
Schools' 10th year
Adopt-a-Spot celebration -
10 June 2011

Some of the gathering

Some of the gathering

'Adopt-A-Spot' is promoted by Keep Porirua Beautiful

'Adopt-A-Spot' is promoted by Keep Porirua Beautiful

See our photo gallery:
Schools' 10th year
Adopt-a-Spot celebration -
10 June 2011

To celebrate 10 years of planting by 5 local schools on sites they "adopted" in 2001 in the Cannons Creek Lakes Reserve, a crowd of about 200 people gathered at Glenview School, Porirua on the morning of 10 June 2011.

The 150 or more schoolchildren and their teachers, were joined by Friends of Maara Roa, Keep Porirua Beautiful members, Brandon Intermediate School representatives, Regional Councillors and staff, and Porirua City Mayor and City Parks staff.

Jeremy Anderson, Chair of Keep Porirua Beautiful got the formal proceedings underway.

"Adopt-A-Spot" is an ongoing concept promoted by Keep Porirua Beautiful, who worked with the Friends of Maara Roa to encourage and support the schools each year, as part of the Maara Roa forest restoration project.

The educational theme for this "Adopt-A-Spot" schools' programme was "Watch Your Trees Grow" – to show youngsters how the trees they plant grow each year, just as children do.

Porirua City Mayor, Nick Leggett, thanked the schools, on behalf of the City of Porirua, for planting trees each year for those ten years – a great effort!

Porirua City Mayor, Nick Leggett, presented engraved wooden plaques to each of the schools.

The schools involved are those primary schools nearest to the Cannons Creek Lake Reserve: Cannons Creek, Glenview, Maraeroa, Russell and Windley.

After these presentations, the Mayor led a procession of the schools and visitors to view each site in turn, the schools bringing banners for the occasion.

This was followed by planting of trees at all the sites, with the visitors joining in planting as well.

In 2003, Maara Roa Friends donated a carved pou with the name of the school to stand on each site as a marker.

The cold winter’s morning concluded with a sausage sizzle and drinks provided by the Council, much appreciated by these energetic children and the visitors too.

The "Adopt-A-Spot" schools' programme is now officially ended, with two schools having filled their "Spots", but the remaining three are able to continue planting yearly with the direct support of the City Council Parks department.

For more / bigger images, see our photo gallery: Schools' 10th year Adopt-a-Spot celebration - 10 June 2011

For more information, see our "Adopt-a-Spot" webpage and / or the Adopt-a-Spot involvement by schools' over the 10 years.

Porirua College Senior Students study Cannons Creek Valley - 30 May 2011

Making notes facing the bush area

Making notes facing the bush area.

Porirua College Senior Students: Vang Xiong, Kahurangi Kuaiti, Shafrana Ali and Tausala Koro

Porirua College Senior Students: Vang Xiong, Kahurangi Kuaiti, Shafrana Ali and Tausala Koro

Vang Xiong, Shafrana Ali, Tausala Koro and Kahurangi Kuaiti, all Year 13 Geography students from Porirua College, had a study visit to the 100ha bush and stream area just south of the College, in Belmont Regional Park, on Monday 30th May 2011.

Led by Sylvia, one of the Guides from Friends of Maara Roa, they started at the Warspite Avenue Dam in Cannons Creek Park and walked through the Lake Reserve, looking at the man-made concrete channels of the Creek, the large earth dam, the Lakes (built to retain floods and sediment from the bare hilltops above), and the steep bulldozed banks now clothed with trees.

It was a surprise to all of them to learn that Porirua College and Brandon Intermediate’s sports fields were once gullies with springs used by Maori long ago, for bathing and healing.  The gullies were filled in when the schools were built by the Government in the late 1950’s.

Equally surprising to them was the natural bush area beyond, with its new plantings, running streams and the beauty of the trees at the bridge on the Takapu Track further up the valley.

These Geography students now know where the Belmont Hills are, and that this huge Regional Park (over 3000ha) can be explored by young people at any time.

Clearing Gorse for Tree Planting - 28 May 2011

No! not a rabbit hole! A pre-dug hole makes for fast planting

No! not a rabbit hole!
A pre-dug hole makes for fast planting.

A lot of hard work goes into preparing areas for each tree planting season.

Here the Porirua Canoe and Kayak Club members are raising money for their club by scrubcutting and clearing gorse off the next big area to be planted this year.

And then to make it even easier for the volunteers planting in difficult places, the club members also use a post-hole digger (auger) to dig holes all over the area.

The first major planting using these holes will be the Honda TreeFund planting day on 25 June 2011.  Honda NZ has donated 900 trees towards the Maara Roa Restoration Project this year.

Tree planting has started for the 2011 season - 14 May 2011

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 all those nursery seedlings get onto the planting sites?"

Read how it is done.  It is quite a big task!

Due to recent nice wet weather, and the energetic efforts of the Park Ranger and his team from Battle Hill who shifted heaps of ready-to-plant trees from our Tree Nursery up the hill into the Maara Roa Valley, Tree planting has started for the 2011 season!!

On Saturday 14th May, we had a beautiful mild morning in spite of early cloud cover, so a group of 11 enthusiasts set to with a will and planted about 100 track-side shrubs.

At present we are enriching areas planted last year.  Clearing is going on apace, and we should have lots of ready-made holes to speed us up in future.

Telecom volunteers help with Tree Care - 5 May 2011

We had 30 volunteers from Telecom come just last week (end of April) – no-one thought to take photos!  Des D and Andy organised it, and a couple of other Friends came too.

A really good amount of Tree Care was done.  Thanks, folks!

Seed collecting - April 2011

Mountain flax

Mountain flax

As part of the Human Birds programme, seed was gathered during summer and autumn 2010 / 2011 from the following:

  • Aristotelia serrata (makomako, wineberry)
  • Carpodetus serratus (putaputaweta, marbleleaf)
  • Coprosma areolata
  • Coprosma cunninghamii
  • Coprosma robusta (karamu)
  • Coprosma rhamanioides (thorny coprosma)
  • Cordyline australis (ti kouka, cabbage tree)
  • Cordyline banksii x (ti ngahere, forest cabbage tree)
  • Geniestoma ligustrifolium (hangehange, maori privet)
  • Leptospermum scoparium (manuka, tea tree)
  • Macropipier excelsum (kawakawa, pepper tree)
  • Myrsine australis (mapou, red matipo)
  • Melicytus ramiflorus (mahoe, whiteywood)
  • Parsonia hetrophlla (kaihua,NZ jasmine)
  • Pennantia corymbosa (kaikomako, bellbird tree)
  • Phormium cookianum (mountain flax, wharariki)
  • Pittosporum eugenioides (tarata, lemonwood)
  • Pittosporum tenuifolium (kohuhu / kohukohu, black matipo)
  • Pseudopanax arboreus (whauwhaupaku, fivefinger)
  • Solanum lacciniatum (poroporo)

Refer to our "What we plant and protect" page to help you with identifying those plants (as many as possible) that we are using (planting) or protecting in this project.

Lifetimers' Leisure Club - Guided Walk - 31 March 2011

Lifetimers' Leisure Club

Visiting Lifetimers' Leisure Club members: the most "Older and Bolder" group to have visited the Maara Roa project to this date.

The Lifetimers' Leisure Club is an activity club for senior citizens.  They mostly have outings by bus but in the summer do "Big Walks" for fitness and enjoyment.

This time 6 of them participated in The Real Cannons Creek walk, with the addition of seeing the schools' Adopt-A-Spots.

Though most did not get right up into the bush, they all enjoyed seeing the plantings, and not one had ever been to the area before, even though all had lived in Porirua for decades.

They also triumphed at getting up, and down, the notorious "Gutbuster" safely, having been warned what it is like, but having given it their best.

The Three Cities Bush Corridor - Guided Walk - 6 March 2011

22 people booked for this event.  Sadly the day proved too wet and wild and the event was cancelled.

Seed Collecting - Andrew struck Gold! - February 2011

Seed gathering - 4 December 2010

Andrew leads the seed gathering project

This is the season for collecting seeds for our Human Birds Project and also for use in our Tree Nursery.

Project Leader Andrew Jinks invites more keen collectors to join his group during February, March and April.

He collected kereru droppings recently from under a favourite perch, sowed them immediately and reports rapid germination!

We have already collected kawakawa, Coprosma robusta (karamu), mahoe, pigeonwood, several grasses, Pittosporum tenuifolium, mapou and flax seeds.

And we are watching others for collection when the seeds are ripe.

Friends of Maara Roa are lucky to have Andrew’s expertise and enthusiasm.

If you want to learn more about the trees and shrubs in our Valley, refer to our "What we plant and protect" page to help you with identifying those plants (as many as possible) that we are using (planting) or protecting in this project.

The Real Cannons Creek - Guided Walk - 29 January 2011

A day that started with doubtful weather, ended as a lovely guided walk for a group of young children and accompanying adults.

The walk included a nature treasure hunt during which an eel was spotted in the creek, and a large dragonfly captured.

Then the final "discovery" of our "cascade" had the children splashing in the stream and clambering and exploring up the rocks with much gusto -- a real highlight on a "Family" outing.

Many thanks to the Guides, and to Gillian Candler who had drawn up a series of activities for the young children who attended.

Download either of two activity sheets: -
   "Explore the Real Cannons Creek" - PDF (133kb) and
   "Explore the bush at the Rata Clearing using your senses" - PDF (63Kb)

Kapi-Mana News :: Porirua station's fresh lick of paint - 18 January 2011

Read the Kapi-Mana News article on 18 January 2011 about the new mural on the Porirua train station, and its reference to Maara Roa.