Newsletter Sept 2020

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.

September 2020 Newsletter: Planting now, planning the future

  • 2500 new plants bring total to 86,000
  • Have your say on Parks Network Plan
  • Behind the scenes
  • Now for sleeves and wires

2500 new plants bring total to 86,000

Some 2500 trees and plants, mostly raised in our nursery at Aotea College, have been added to the Long Garden (Maara Roa) this season, bringing the total planted by FMR since 2000 to 86,000.  Every fine Saturday, a core group of regular planters is at the site. A warm welcome to Julie Daly who has quickly become a valuable member of the team.

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For the first time, given the uncertainties around Covid-19, the committee engaged contractors to do a day of bulk planting. Nearly 1000 trees were placed at the “Golden hectare” of cleared land close to the Porirua College boundary.

Despite this commercial assistance, the voluntary support from our community continues to be crucial and we are grateful for this year’s contributions.  On 28 August an enthusiastic group from the ESR (the Environmental and Scientific Research Institute ESR, based at Kenepuru) planted more than 250 trees (and took plenty of pictures, thank you to organiser Kristin Bohm). Afterwards, Sef Truyens gave a guided tour of our other plantings.  Last week, Dave Sutherland’s group of Porirua College students did a good job of placing and protecting 51 plants in a morning session.   

Have your say on Parks Network Plan

Changes to the western side of Belmont Regional Park, which includes Maara Roa, are suggested in the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s new Parks Network Plan. It calls for comment by Friday 23 October, as written submission or through the website  Page 101 of the document says a master plan for the park west of Transmission Gully is a top priority for action. The grazing lease for Waitangirua Farm will expire by the end of this year so the now closed road entry at Waihora Crescent can be opened to give greater access for Waitangirua and other parts of Eastern Porirua.  New trails, some accessible for wheelchairs, can be developed. Once Transmission Gully construction is completed, there are plans for trails reconnecting the east and west sides of the park.  There will be new options for the long-wanted “green corridor”.

The plan covers the 8 regional parks in Greater Wellington, giving specific proposals and action plans for each.   The plan has been two years in development, based on original submissions from stakeholders, including the Friends of Maara Roa, and it will set the scene for at least the next ten years.  For FMR the plan has many implications and we will be making a group submission. Already our revegetation work has moved in the direction of Waihora Crescent, close to Porirua College.  

Parts of the Parks Network plan can be easily accessed from . The committee has three hard copies of the Draft plan which can be borrowed from Janet Tyson Rangers Wayne Boness ( and Jeremy Paterson ( say they are happy to discuss any questions about the plan; a drop-in discussion session will be held on  September 30 at the Hardwick Smith Lounge at Belmont Domain from 6.15 to 8 pm.  Submissions must be in by 1 pm on Friday 23 October 2020

Behind the scenes

Many thanks are due for this season’s successful planting story, which starts with the hard work by Brenda Johnston and the team at the Aotea nursery. Ranger Jeremy Paterson has delivered plants to the main sites for contractors and volunteers, and the separate area where Mike and Kathy Peers work each year.  Des Drummond prepares the many cardboard weed mats needed. Sef Truyens, Keith Nicoll, Brenda and Royce Johnston, Mel Tyson, Julie Daly, Paul Guiniven and Kim Livingstone are Saturday planters. Sef, Brenda, Julie, Mel, Paul and Kim assisted the ESR group while Brenda, Royce, Mel, Paul, Kim and Jonathan Boyes (a nursery regular) joined the Porirua College group. 

Now for sleeves and wires

The picture above shows an ESR volunteer applying cardboard sheets, plastic sleeves and wires to protect young trees against weeds, wind damage and ravenous rabbits.  At right, ranger Jeremy Paterson watches Kim Livingstone and dog Rosie. Sadly the contractors doing bulk planting did not have time to add sleeves and wires, so regular working bees are now adding them, while Mel Tyson continues to spray what is proving to be effective rabbit repellent. 

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 3 November. Contact Sef  or 04 234 7747 if you would like to come along.