Newsletter March 2021

Friends of Maara Roa (FMR): 20+ years bringing biodiversity back to the Cannons Creek catchment

Working bees are every fine Saturday; meet at 9.30 am at the Cannons Creek entrance to Belmont Regional Park.  The nursery group meets every Thursday from 10 am to noon, in the grounds of Aotea College in Okowai Road.

March-April 2021 newsletter: Past and future

  • A busy time for tree care
  • A change in focus for the future
  • Our place in history
  • Extended grazing lease

A busy time for tree care

This year, as always, tree planting will start once we have more reliable rainfall which is likely to be from early June. 

However, the regular working bee group has been busy every fine Saturday since mid-January. (Most were already at work when we had our picnic, postponed from December to January 30 for better weather.) 

As the number of plantings increases, so do the tree care tasks to make sure the young trees will thrive; protective sleeves and wires must be removed once plants start to grow well, and weeds always need to be cleared.  Sef Truyens and Keith Nicoll (pictured) and Julie Daly have been doing this work, while Brenda and Royce Johnston have been clearing some new areas, with Royce and Mel Tyson mounting a major attack on blackberry and gorse.

“Tree planting is the exciting work, but tree care is the essential work.”

A change in focus for the future

By 2023 the Friends of Maara Roa will have planted close to 90,000 trees, many of them raised in our own nursery.  The marvellous remote-control mulcher has cleared new sites to the east of the original boundary of Maara Roa, closer to the boundaries of Porirua College: the “Golden Hectare” and College Corner. Late last year a new area was cleared, further up the hill to the east, creating space for planting at least 5000 more trees.

With some regret, the committee has decided the Friends of Maara Roa do not have the resources to plant and develop this new site. Contractors will be engaged to plant and develop the site once it has been sprayed to control weed growth, and the bulk of the plants needed will be purchased from commercial growers. 

FMR will concentrate their efforts on infill planting of existing sites, and the increasing need for maintenance of those sites. The plants currently being raised in the nursery will be used for infill and not replaced so the nursery activities will also wind down.

This is a refocus rather than an end to the Friends of Maara Roa activities, and we still welcome groups like ESR and Caritas who have helped us in the past.   We are also happy to pass on our experience to new groups. 

Our place in history

In June, it will be 21 years since the Rev Sylvia Jenkin chaired the meeting that established the Friends of Maara Roa (Inc).  We celebrated 20 years of FMR with a cake; after 21 years we are thinking how to take our place in history.  We have good records including all minutes and newsletters. The website, while it is not being added to, is an excellent pictorial record.

Our records show how many people in the local area and Wellington region have been involved with Maara Roa. More than 450 people are named in the records and at least 80 different organisations from schools to the South African High Commission. Our nursery (at right) was first at Porirua College and since 2012 has been at Aotea College.  The challenge is how to make sure our stories take their place in local history, and we have the support of Porirua Library to do so.

Film maker Mike McMorran is working on a history of Belmont Regional Park and has offered to film some interviews of key people linked to Maara Roa.

We invite readers of this newsletter to help by naming key people, events and activities in the development of Maara Roa.  Please spread the word to past members of FMR inviting them to get in touch with Janet Tyson at (We are currently trying to resolve problems with the address on the website).

Parks Network Plan and extended grazing lease

The new GWRC Parks Network Plan has been approved, with most draft proposals to proceed, including new access points to the west side of Belmont Regional Park. However the deadline to retire farmland from grazing has been extended to make sure the transition is effective.  Contact chief ranger for more information.

The Friends of MaaraRoa (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 27 April. Contact Sef  or 04 234 7747 if you would like to come along.