News Archive - 2013


Cascade Wetland - one year on - 25 October 2013

Cascade Wetland - Schefflera digitata (seven finger / pate) - has reached 2m - was only 15cm when planted (see the pink tag on stake - that's knee-high) - October 2013.

Schefflera

Just one year on from when inital planting was done in the area known as the "Cascade Wetland", Andrew has a success story to report: many of the plants there have done really well!

The tree species, fuchsia and Schefflera (seven finger), and the grasses, have out-competed the weeds.

These trees have exceeded expectations - some are now 2m high, and were only 15cm when planted.  See Andrew's photo of the Schefflera.

The Carex "Island" has sprouted to smother the area, is excluding the weeds, and is still spreading.

In spite of the problems of rabbit browsing, flooding, and weeds, there are lots of native seedlings popping up.  There are also a lot of young ferns where the weeds have been controlled.

'Well done!' to everyone who has worked on this micro-site!

Read more about the Cascade Wetland micro-site and see more photos.


Rata from Project Crimson - September 2013

Now that the trees for this year's planting are up the hill by "The Beams" we have more room for next year's seedling trees!

We are potting-on the beautiful rata given us by "Project Crimson", growing them larger for the future.   See this year's earlier excitement about some flowering northern rata.

Cuttings of rangiora, Griselinia and Hebe stricta are coming along, and some seeds collected earlier in the year are germinating.

We have also bought in small seedlings in 'plugs' for potting on.

Two classes of students from Aotea College have helped us with potting on and other tasks recently.

Our own volunteers had to be organised to keep groups of 25 energetic students on the job.  Warm thanks to teacher Jeff Chapman and his great kids!

Remember we are busy in the Nursery at Aotea College every Thursday morning from 10am, and welcome visitors.


Carton Cutters say 'Thanks, Glenview School!' - September 2013

At Glenview School workshop: making plant pots from milk cartons; tree collars from cartons

At Glenview School workshop:
making plant pots from milk cartons;
tree collars from used cardboard cartons.

The hard working "Carton Cutters", are now working at Aotea Nursery every second Saturday of the month.

We have now finshed using the Storage and Workshop room at Glenview School and are in the process of returning keys to the school.

We, the Friends of Maara Roa say 'Thanks, Glenview School for your kindness and generosity!'

We have been using their space since 2002, and it has been invaluable to have secure storage and a pleasant working space for carton cutting.

We wish Glenview School well and appreciate their hospitality over the last ten years.

Milk Cartons always welcome

The "Carton Cutters" work hard to supply the Nursery with prepared milk cartons for potting on, and cardboard collars for when trees are planted - the collars inhibit weed growth and help keep the soil moist.

The group welcome any donations of milk cartons you use at home (available from both New World and Countdown) but please, just the full size one litre milk cartons.  500ml milk boxes are too short for our use, and juice boxes have a foil layer and are not suitable either.

Just rinse the cartons out and collect them up; our team will fold the tops down inside (for extra strength) and cut holes in the bottom corners.

They can be left at the Aotea College Office, or even better, come to the Nursery on a Thursday morning and see what we are doing.  Morning tea is about 11am!


Winter planting is in full swing - September 2013

Crates of plants ready for the 2013 planting season: (L) Karamu (coprosma robusta) a fine colonising tree; (R) Various species including lemonwood and mahoe.

Crates of plants ready for the 2013 planting season:
(L) Karamu (coprosma robusta) a fine colonising tree;
(R) Various species including lemonwood and mahoe.

During July and August we have been hard at work extending planting in the East Bowl, particularly with hardy colonisers, like:

  • coprosma robusta (karamu)
  • pittosporum eugenioides (lemonwood)
  • tea tree
  • hebe
  • mahoe (whiteywood)

We still have about 1000 young trees ready to go in the ground – they have been delivered up the hill by Ranger Jeremy Patterson, a huge help to us.

We have welcomed several new volunteers, Whaeta, Ameke, Brian, Paul – all making a big difference to progress.  You guys rock!


Nursery is bigger! - 12 August 2013

Once a wilderness, the lower terrace area of the Nursery at Aotea College has been well cleared, garden plots built, and now it's serving its intended function - an area to store the trees and plants ready to be planted.

While clearing up the area around an old shed, a good concrete path to it was unearthed from under the weeds and debris.

Some of the plants grown are for the Maara Roa project and some are for the Aotea College grounds.

The Nursery is bigger! Once a wilderness, the lower terrace area of the Nursery at Aotea College has been well cleared, garden plots built, and now it's serving its intended function - an area to store the trees and plants ready to be planted this year. Some of these plants are for the Maara Roa project and some are for the Aotea College grounds.

Bigger!

While clearing up the area around an old shed, a good concrete path to it was unearthed from under the weeds and debris.

Path

Andrew, our botanist now in charge of planting plans, discusses which trees to get delivered to the planting areas for this winter's plantings.

Plantings

Andy, Neil and Juliet discuss the merits of some plastic plant pots we are trying out.

Plastic pot

Some of the plants for this year are really fine big ones. Andy shows a mountain flax that is longing to get into our bush!

Flax


The above photos, plus some others showing big seedlings (kawakawa, mingimingi, lancewoods) all ready for planting, can be viewed in our Nursery Gallery.


New fencing - area retired from grazing - 30 July 2013

Some new fencing in our valley means that the area between the Takapu Conservation Covenant and the Takapu Farm Road, on both sides of the Cannons Creek, has been retired from grazing.

These photos were taken when Sylvia, Juliet and Neil were on a site visit to the area.


AGM speaker: Senior Ranger Wayne Boness - 15 July 2013

Wayne Boness

AGM Guest Speaker: Wayne Boness

Wayne spoke to members at our AGM in July, using images of Belmont Regional Park to explain his ideas for future development.

Wayne's background in DOC means his skills and experience will be invaluable to the whole Park, and members welcomed the opportunity to get to know him.

We are particularly excited by plans to improve walking access on our side of Belmont Regional Park – Friends of Maara Roa hope this will encourage increased use of the walking tracks by local residents.

Many visitors, especially older people, find part of the Maara Roa Track that is known as the 'gut buster' to be quite daunting.

Several members will be involved in working with rangers Wayne and Jeremy on a walking survey to scout the most suitable line for improving the tracks.

This work has been long hoped for, and we are delighted new funding has been found by GWRC and work can proceed.


Takapu Track open all year - 26 June 2013

The Takapu Track is now to stay open all year round.  From now on, it will not be closed during the months of lambing. 

So, between August 1st and Labour Weekend, it will now be possible (lawfully, that is) to exit or enter Belmont Park at Takapu Road in order to visit the Maara Roa restoration area. [These two photos are of the same spot, going to, or coming from, farmland.]

We have lobbied for years on this issue, pointing out that the narrow strip of paddock is seldom used, never by young lambs (too exposed), and so close is Takapu Road to the top of the Takapu Conservation Covenant (which is of course open all year round) that you can see one from the other.

This will mean trampers and mountain bikers can get right through from Tawa/State Highway 1 and come down the track to Cannons Creek, (or vice versa) instead of finding that a mere 50 metres or so of paddock blocks their way.

It should also mean that our possum control team can move around that area if they wish.

Wayne Boness, Principal Ranger Western sector, Greater Wellington Parks told us this at the June Committee meeting.

Notices will be posted to say that the Takapu Track is open; the rest of the farmland has to be closed as usual during lambing for the three months of spring; barriers will be put up to prevent access to any other track, including the Maara Roa track's farmland area up on the ridge.

Others have joined us in urging change, and the Friends of Belmont Regional Park want the whole Park to be open all year round; so far, Cannons Creek is the lucky area where this has been agreed.


From 'The Beams' to planting area - 6 June 2013

In preparation for the Friends of Maara Roa's first planting day of the 2013 season on 8th June, trays and crates of plants had to be carried from our plant depot at "The Beams" down to the planting area.

A lovely group of cordyline seen from an area the Friends of Maara Roa know as 'The Beams'. In preparation for the first planting day of the 2013 season on 8th June, crates of plants had to be carried from our plant depot at 'The Beams' down to the planting area.

The Beams

Crates of plants ready for the 2013 planting season: (L) Karamu (coprosma robusta) a fine colonising tree; (R) Various species including lemonwood and mahoe.

Crates

In readiness for 2013's first planting day, Neil selects crates of plants at 'the depot' at 'The Beams'.

Neil

Brian with a crate of tree lucerne, on his way from the depot at 'The Beams' to the 2013 planting area.

Brian

Whaeta, a great volunteer going incognito with a flourishing crate of hebes.

Whaeta

Jonathan with a mixed crate of plants - and his usual friendly mien.

Jonathan

Trevor (looking suspiciously at the camera!) collecting a crate of hebes.

Trevor

Site where the first plantings of the 2013 season will take place. Some plants already in situ from a previous effort.

Planting


Neil sorted these for the four strong men, Brian, Whaeta, Jonathan and Trevor.

Heavy work indeed!  Thanks, guys!

The above photos plus some others, can be viewed in our Tree Planting Gallery.


Visitors help with seed-raising at the Nursery - 5 May 2013

Getting started - transplanting tiny plants to root trainers.

Success! The tiniest plants are now in root trainers.

Success! 4 dozen tiny plants transplanted.

More images in our Nursery Photo Gallery

A small environmental study and action group from St. Andrew's Church, Plimmerton, "GEOH" (God's Earth Our Home) came to visit and give a hand at the Nursery for an hour or so, on the afternoon of Sunday 5 May.

Rae, a church member and one of the regular Friends in the Nursery team, opened up the Nursery specially for this group, then showed them how we transplant the tiniest plants.

At any time, an on-going busy task at the Nursery is transplanting the tiny plants which have just germinated in seed trays, into new containers called "root trainers" so they can start to grow.  It's intensive work, delicate and fiddly, yet so rewarding!

Interested?  It's always worth contacting the Friends of Maara Roa Friends if you want to come, see, and help, even for just an hour or so!  Contact us and something can surely be arranged.  Please phone Libby on (04) 235.9449 or email info@MaaraRoa.org.nz.


The "Carton Cutters" get stuck in to making plant pots - 13 April 2013

Betty and Isabel busy inside the workshop at the Nursery.

Betty and Isabel busy inside the workshop at the Nursery. 
If it had been fine they could have chosen to work outside instead.

Flat milk cartons made into plant pots.

Flat milk cartons made into plant pots.


More information about how we use milk cartons - see our Photo Gallery

Thanks to a donation of 1800 brand-new tetrapaks by Goodman Fielder at Longburn, we can continue using cardboard milk cartons as plant pots.

They don't even have to be washed! Just opened out, taped, and trimmed.

We need all of these made up now for use in the Nursery.

If you want to help restore the bush, but can't do the planting or hill walking, this is a nice easy job.

Come and join the Friends at Aotea College tree nursery (now being used by the Friends as well as the school) and give a hand on the second Saturday of every month, from 10 a.m. - 12 noon. Morning Tea provided.

(Note: This working bee used to be held at Glenview School in Cannons Creek, but the new Nursery site at Aotea College has plenty of workroom and storage space, so that is where the carton cutters now meet.  More details on our Diary webpage. )


Northern rata found & flowering - 17 January 2013

Northern rata, flowering before December 2012

Northern rata,
first sighted flowering before December 2012

Great excitement! This northern rata was first sighted flowering before December 2012. This one and some others that are nearby, are NOT in any micro-site, much less the Rata Clearing.

This discovery has led to an interesting discussion about their provenance: their age, whether planted or naturally occurring, and if planted, when planted.  These appear to have been planted; they clearly haven't begun as ephiphytes.

Andy was there at Christmas-New Year when the bloom could be seen.  None of the rest of us ever have been up there at that time; so they may have bloomed before.

John Hodges has told us that he and kids from Brandon School did plant northern rata trees in "The Vines" (his old name for the Cannons Creek bush remnant) in the 1970's and 1980's.

Our rata seedlings planted in 2002 as part of a "Project Crimson" grant were planted in an area subsequently known as the Rata Clearing.


Cascade Wetland established - 17 January 2013

In late 2012 we located a stream-bank area where little Cascade Creek passes under the Maara Roa track through a culvert.

Probably due to water backing up in heavy rains at this point, there is a lot of rich moist sediment here, ideal for wetland plants.

As they establish, they will help retain this soil.

Early in 2013, Andrew is confident that the area is well on the way to looking after itself.

Read more about the Cascade Wetland micro-site and view photos of the area.