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: www.maararoa.org.nz
- Rare plant now thriving in Porirua
- New venue a success
- Thank you Jenny Brash
- Subscriptions due
- Eels and fish in Cannons Creek
- Shout out to Des Drummond
Rare plant now thriving in Porirua
A once rare and endangered plant is now establishing itself in and around Porirua, thanks to the plant-spotting and seed-raising skills of Andrew Jinks, supervisor at the Porirua City Council nursery. He had a fascinated audience at FMR’s AGM on 11 July, as he told of discovering a grove of swamp maire trees in a gully “surrounded by suburbia, in a weedy stormwater reserve” near Jerry Collins Park. He saw the trees while walking up Mungavin Avenue, having left his car at the garage. The swamp maire (Syzygium maire), already rare, became endangered with the arrival of myrtle rust, and had not been seen in Porirua for over 100 years.
Since then the nursery, in Sievers Grove, has become a centre for the propagation of the plant, sharing seedlings with other groups while also opening up the “genetic bottleneck” of the gully grove. Through trial and error – including adjusting the phosphorus balance of the potting mix – the nursery has overcome the many challenges of raising the seeds which are notoriously difficult to propagate. Each guava-like berry on the tree has a single seed, which is vulnerable to grubs, and may take 6 to 8 months to germinate. Adult trees put up external roots which can easily be damaged, for instance by weed clearance.
Andrew says the Cannons Creek lakes area is ideal for a grove of swamp maire, and Kim Livingstone has already planted some there. The rediscovery story – covered in detail in the June issue of New Zealand Gardener magazine – has added to the reputation of the nursery, which Andrew says is one of the “really good news stories” coming out of Porirua. He continues to look for plants new to the area and thinks he has also spotted another rare maire, the mida salicifolia.
New venue a success
Mana MP Barbara Edmonds’ electorate office was a comfortable venue on a wet night for our 22nd Annual General Meeting. We missed some regular attenders for a variety of reasons – but those attending enjoyed a great presentation, some good discussion and the usual tasty supper.
Jenny Brash, second from left and then Mayor of Porirua, is pictured on 18 September 2010 at the event celebrating 10 years of the Friends of Maara Roa. At left is Winnie Laban, then an MP and patron of FMR, second from right is regional councillor Barbara Donaldson and at right Ngati Toa kaumatua Toa Waaka about to give the blessing for the plaque installed at Kowhai Grove, the site of the first FMR plantings. The photo, by Sylvia Jenkin, is one of many showing the history of Maara Roa. See more: click Archives at bottom right on the home page of www.maararoa.org.nz .
Thank you, Jenny Brash
Greater Wellington Regional Councillor Jenny Brash has been a regular at key events for the Friends of Maara Roa, including AGMs, but 2022 will be her last year attending officially. She is stepping down after 33 years in local government, a large part of which have involved her in battles on behalf of the Friends of Maara Roa – nearly always at the insistence of Sylvia Jenkin. Jenny recalled the earliest efforts to protect the valley by fencing cattle out of streams, and supporters like Ross Jackson from GWRC and Robyn Smith of the Take Care Group. A special memory is watching local school kids bat seed balls into the bush as “Human Birds”.
On behalf of the Friends of Maara Roa, Sef Truyens thanked Jenny Brash for the many years and many ways in which she had been a loyal supporter. The meeting endorsed his tribute by acclamation. Jenny congratulated the Friends of Maara Roa on the impressive amount of revegetation achieved. Unfortunately, she said, those driving over Transmission Gully can’t take time to see it. She commended volunteers for their valuable work and said it is an exciting time with new groups like Pareraho Forest and Ngahere Korowai.
A reminder that annual subscriptions are now due and can be paid directly to our Westpac Bank Porirua Branch account which is 03 0547 0381329 00. Subscriptions are still $20 a person or $30 a couple. Please give your surname as a reference for payments made by direct debit.
Eels and fish in Cannons Creek
Fish life is thriving in Cannons Creek, despite all the construction work that has taken place upstream. This was the finding of an eDNA sample taken by Mel Tyson in May, and now available to see at www.wilderlab.co.nz/explore. (Sample 522958). More information at www.maararoa.org.nz
A shout out to Des Drummond
He’s always there with fertiliser and other essentials for the Saturday working bee – and he would welcome you and show the way if you want to join us. A shout out and thanks to Des Drummond who also prepares the cardboard squares used to control weeds round newly planted seedlings.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 04 234 7747 to come along.