December 2022 Newsletter

Friends of Maara Roa (FMR): 22 years bringing biodiversity back to the Cannons Creek catchment

Working bees are every fine Saturday; meet at 9.30 am in the carpark at the back of Porirua College.  The nursery group meets every Thursday from 10 am to noon, in the grounds of Aotea College in Okowai Road. Website:


  • Thanks and festive wishes
  • No holiday from watering
  • A change of focus
  • New homes for nursery plants
  • Beat the rats
  • Congratulations
Fresh apples are a bonus for those on the nursery watering roster in the new year. You can still join the roster: see below.

Thanks and festive wishes

To our regular nursery and working bee workers, those who have joined us for special planting occasions, and other supporters: we thank you for all your efforts and wish you all the best for the festive season and new year 2023.    

In the 2022 planting season, 600 plants were added to Maara Roa, bringing the total planted to 87,800.  With warmth and rain, the new plantings are establishing well and growing fast, while more established ones were bursting out of their protective plastic sleeves, and pleased to see tree care work underway, Committee chairman Sef Truyens says. 

No holiday from watering

Thursday December 8 was the last day for nursery work in 2022. The last working bee will be Saturday 10 December, starting again on Saturday 14 January 2023. 

Thanks to Porirua City Council contractors for clearing away a big stand of blackberry beside Cannons Creek. Ranger John Tesoriero will be spraying the area which will be a new planting site in 2024.

Nursery activities restart in February 2023, but the watering volunteers will visit regularly through the holiday period.   Contact Brenda Johnston  if you would like to help.

A change of focus

Instead of the traditional end of year picnic, the core working bee team joined committee members for a café lunch.  One reason for the change is the increasingly unreliable pre-Christmas weather, but a more significant one is the increasing age and reducing numbers of people still actively involved.

The Maara Roa project is reaching maturity. Thanks to new clearances, our planted area has extended, notably up to and past College Corner behind Porirua College.  Apart from some infill and replacement planting, most of the land suitable for the plants we have been raising in the nursery has now been planted.  Newly cleared areas like Glenys’s Seat and the Creekside blackberry area (pictured above) need different plants, and large-scale plantings that contractors can do more efficiently.

This means a change in focus for FMR activities, with the emphasis on tree care and maintenance.  Earlier plantings desperately need releasing, and weeds cleared to create lightwells. The battle against blackberry and gorse is ongoing. The good news is that our plants are starting to dominate which will eventually reduce the need for control.  Anti-gorse warrior Mel Tyson says plants may need seven years to get the upper hand.  

New homes for nursery plants

In 2023, we will not be buying in new seedlings for the nursery at Aotea College. All activity will be directed at maintaining and finding a good home for the 2000 or so plants already being raised there. A number of these, including kahikatea and horopito, are ready for planting but have not been placed because there are no suitable sites remaining in Maara Roa.   The Committee hopes to offer some of these plants to other revegetation groups funded by Greater Wellington.

Beat the rats

Checking the traps

Pest control – in earlier days consisting of a network of ten bait lines protecting the planting area from possums – has always been a key activity for the Friends of Maara Roa, but here too numbers involved have decreased.  Now the last of our long-serving pest controllers, Paul and Sue Guiniven have stepped down. We thank them for all their work.

But there is an ongoing challenge to beat the predators and keep the restored forest safe for birds. Thanks to funding from the Community Environment Fund of Greater Wellington Regional Council, we now have a “wall of steel” rat and stoat traps running across the valley, along with a line of possum traps.  The new traps are self-resetting, but for their own protection are off the beaten track, so there is a need for someone fit to go in to check and replace consumables every 4 months or so.  The rangers would be happy to train a volunteer to do this job, which is really making a difference. Over 200 strikes have been recorded since the first traps were installed.


Congratulations to Quentin Duthie, an active advocate for the environment with the Friends of Belmont Regional Park on his election to Greater Wellington Regional Council.

The Friends of Maara Roa (Inc) is supported by Greater Wellington Regional Council. We work to the 20-year Belmont Regional Park Cannons Creek Forest Restoration Plan. Our next committee meeting will be on Tuesday 6 September 2022. Contact Sef  or 04 234 7747 to come along.