Last Sunday we invited the public to join us for a guided walk on our loop track. The sun came out and around 35 people came along to each walk.
People came from as far away as Eastbourne, Porirua and Tawa. This interest in our project from the local and wider Wellington community was really encouraging.
We made some good connections, were given some generous donations and raised the profile of the project and reserve.
Ngā mihi nui to all the participants.
I first met Katherine de Silva online, she was asking a question on the 'Wild Plants of Wellington' Facebook group.
She came along to one of the Manawa Karioi working bees and we all met her.
Since then, Katherine has chosen Manawa Karioi as a research site and because of its age, she has made two research plots on the site.
She gave me a tour of the two plots she has measured at Manawa Karioi and she talked me through how she is collecting data to help other restoration projects in the future.
Katherine is now on the road in a campervan, studying forty-five restoration plots throughout the country as part of her Master's Degree with Victoria University.
Tell me a bit about yourself?
I finished my bachelor in Environmental Science in 2010 and since then I have been contracting in a variety of roles - field technician, herpetologist, trapper, ecologist, biocontrol officer etc. I decided at the end of 2016 that I would start my Masters in Ecology and Biodiversity which I’m now half way through. I began my field season conducting research into urban restoration through the VUW on 1 December and will be working full time in the field in the South Island until probably April 2018.
Why did you choose this field of research?
I’ve had experience doing vegetation surveys before and I have thoroughly enjoyed spending these days in our forests working with and learning about our native flora. So, I took on a thesis project that would allow me to improve my skills in plant identification, which is a very important skill set in ecology, and that would allow me to spend time working in ecosystems I really enjoy. I also understand how important the implementation of urban forest restoration activities has become, as it is a key tool to improve ecosystem services, function, resilience and biodiversity. So, to be part of a project that will help us understand how we can improve the trajectory and success of restoration activities in degraded urban environments is exciting.
What is the purpose of your Masters study?
The goal is to understand the factors that constrain or promote plant regeneration in urban forests planted up from scratch. This work directly addresses many key restoration questions such as “what are the microhabitat requirements for the missing plant species we aim to reintroduce?” and “what natural succession is happening in urban forests?”. Restoration planting activities are common practice across New Zealand, where bare, degraded land is re-planted in order to improve biodiversity, ecosystem function and social benefits. While establishment of the initial canopy has been relatively successful, the regeneration of late-successional native trees, shrubs and epiphytes beneath the planted canopy, a key process in forest succession, is generally lacking. This research will hopefully assist practitioners to understand factors limiting or triggering natural regeneration, a key indicator of success.
Tell me about the methodology behind the research, how is your study structured?
I will be installing permanent plots across 5 cities (Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill), spanning a large climate gradient within NZ. 45 research sites have been selected to have the structure, composition and environmental conditions measured. Our sites will sit within age categories (young, intermediate, old), providing an understanding of the short-term (1-10 years) to medium-term (10-60 years) successional dynamics of restoration plantings, processes that are virtually unknown in New Zealand cities. Understanding how light, microclimate, and understorey conditions change over the first 60 years of development will provide Councils with critical information for long-term planning to maximise efficiency of resource allocation.
What kind of preparation did you undertake before starting this study?
To find out if the methodology we chose to undertake the vegetation surveys were appropriate, we did a small pilot study at two sites in Wellington (Tawatawa Reserve & Manawa Karioi). We set up two permanent plots and conducted surveys, tweaking techniques and processes to find out what would work best. This was really helpful to set us on the right path, however we continue to fine-tune processes and efficiencies in the field as often things are highlighted once we start working, which we hadn’t thought of previously. to edit.
Why did you choose Manawa Karioi as a site?
Manawa Karioi is the oldest planted forest site we could find in Wellington City, so we really wanted to get it in our research programme. In fact, because we had such strict criteria for our site selection, we couldn’t find any others over 25 years, so we ended up putting two research sites at Manawa Karioi.
How have your field trips been going so far?
Fantastic! I have finished surveying all nine sites in Wellington. And as of today, we have finished site number 2 in Nelson – so 34 more sites to go in total! I have had some great experiences already, visiting the oldest restored site in Wellington was a highlight, with the plot being placed underneath a canopy of puriri, ngaio and Ti Kouka (cabbage tree). It was a very peaceful and relaxing site to work in, with lots of birdsong to keep us company while we crawled along the ground counting seedlings. Another highlight here in Nelson has been seeing a weka the first time myself in the wild - we were sitting on the ground next to the plot and the coolest curious weka came right up to us to check out what we were doing.
What value do restoration projects have in ecological terms?
Restoration activities in New Zealand started during the 1970’s and 80’s; initially seeking to undertake revegetation and weed control programmes on off-shore islands, mainland reserves and national parks. However, restoration programmes have since expanded into urban environments, with a shifted focus to repair biodiversity and ecosystem processes.
Restoration of ecologically functioning plant communities is a skill that has been refined through a few decades of lessons learned. Restoration practitioners now realise the importance of historical and ecological knowledge of the local landscape, to establish the most suitable composition of plant species, and have improved planting practices such as the planting of appropriate species to mimic the stages of forest and the use of eco-sourced seeds to improve planting survival and local genetic diversity. For many people, restoring degraded landscapes and especially those with little local seed source available, is due to the intrinsic value that we place on the living things and processes within forest ecosystems. It is also of high value to humans in order to provide resources and ecosystem services such clean water, fertile soils and purified air.
What outcomes are you expecting?
The results will be combined with a comparable study of cities within the north island, as part of a nationwide assessment under the People Cities & Nature (PCAN) Programme. We don’t yet know what we will find exactly, once we collect the data across all five cities and 45 sites, we will look at the data and see what it tells us. But we may get insight into some of the following areas:
· The composition, structure, regeneration, invasions dynamics in restored urban forests
· The micro-climate and regional climate influences on plant survival within restored urban forests
· Effect of canopy composition on understory plant assembly and natural regeneration of native seedling propagules
· Changes to dominant functional plant groups regenerating along a successional chronosequence at planted urban forest sites.
Our results will provide improved management recommendations and restoration guidelines for urban forest restoration in Wellington & other NZ cities.
How will you share the outcomes of your research?
Communications on progress will take place between all PCAN research groups and other stakeholders including WCC, GWRC, VUW, UoW & regional Botanical Societies. The results will be distributed to all stakeholders in the format of reports, journal publications, talks and other stakeholder engagement activities. Results will also be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals and presented at conferences in 2019.
For more Information, a link to programme website and my own details:
Photography and introduction by Vanessa Patea
The vibrant Island Bay festival is happening again in February 2018 and we plan to be a part of it.
We will have a shared stall at the festival with Tawatawa reserve and Paekawakawa reserve groups to showcase the restoration projects to the Island Bay and wider Wellington community.
We will also be hosting 2 x one-hour guided walks through the reserve on February the 18th.
Guided Track Walk - Island Bay
Do you enjoy walking in Wellington's tracks?
We have some great tracks at Manawa Karioi Ecological Restoration Project in Island Bay. Join us for a one-hour guided walk through our network of tracks on February 18.
You will be guided through this unique landscape and hear about one of the oldest restoration projects in Wellington and what has been achieved.
Started in 1990 as an initiative of land owners Tapu te Ranga Marae, the Manawa Karioi Ecological Restoration Project has helped reintroduced many plant species that have been absent from south Wellington for over a century.
In turn, this has helped native bird species to self-introduce to the area.
The walk will cover roughly 2km, which is 60% of the total tracks. Besides viewing the plantings (some of which are now 10m high) the walk will touch on local history and take in some views from Island Bay all the way to the distant Tararua Ranges.
Interested? Then come along! Meet at the Tapu te Ranga Marae car park, up the driveway signposted at the end of Danube St, Island Bay.
We depart at 11am sharp and 1pm sharp. A donation of a gold coin for individuals and $5 for a family would be appreciated.
A moderate level of fitness and appropriate footwear is recommended as none of the tracks are paved. We will go ahead regardless of weather.
Last week, we had our annual general meeting at Tapu te Ranga Marae. To start the meeting, we acknowledged the passing of Kaumatua Bruce Stewart in June of 2017. His vision of a bush and bird reserve on Tapu te Ranga Marae land was a seed that grew into a thriving hillside of native trees, birds and lizards. This 25-year-old restoration project is one of the oldest restoration projects in Wellington and many hands have planted the trees, weeded the gorse, cut the scrub, cleared the tracks, nurtured the seedlings and most importantly enjoyed seeing the forest and birds return over these years. Nga mihi nui e hoa, Bruce
Kua hinga te tōtara i Te Waonui a Tāne.
There was a positive discussion about how the Manawa Karioi Society has been reinvigorated this year with healthy numbers attending our working bees and we have built up a good community awareness of our project and the reserve.
Our public access tracks are becoming more popular and we are seeing more people use them for walking, running, horse riding and dog walking. The Manawa Karioi Society and Tapu te Ranga Marae are delighted that the tracks are well used.
With this increased track use, our focus for 2018 is marking the tracks and updating our signs, we would also like to put more focus on fundraising and finding sponsorship for our new signs. We had some great ideas at our AGM last week and are ready to kick into action
If you would like to read our Chairmans report, you can find it here.
2017 has been a really dynamic year for Manawa Karioi so far and we have achieved many of our goals. Our Annual General Meeting will be held at Tapu te Ranga Marae and everyone is welcome, please register for this event with Facebook if you are planning to attend so we are aware of numbers.
Sunday, October 29 at 1:30 PM - 3 PM at Tapu te Ranga Marae
2017 has been an eventful year for Manawa Karioi, starting with a pledge to the Trees That Count organisation to plant 1000 trees in the hills of Island Bay.
In the summer months, we set up a stall at the Island Bay Festival where we met some of the local community, handed out maps to the reserve, and promoted our guided walk in March. 90 people attended the walk with some of them continuing to be engaged in the project.
A few adjustments to the operations of the project were made, including moving our long-term nursery plants to Tawatawa nursery (just over the hill) and hosting our working bees every Sunday afternoon in May and in August to make the sessions easier to promote. We also opened a new track that connects the City to Sea Walkway to the Berhamphore Golf Course.
Over the two months, 1200 trees were planted and some track maintenance work was carried out. There was a great turnout to the working bees with an average of 15 volunteers we had two really busy working bees with 30 people showing up!
In June, Kaumatua Bruce Stewart from Tapu te Ranga Marae passed away and was buried in an urupa on Marae land. Manawa Karioi volunteers went to pay their respects. It was a reflective moment; Manawa Karioi was Bruce's vision of a bush and bird reserve. It is now one of the oldest reforestation projects in Wellington. Thanks to years of service from volunteers and the surrounding reforestation projects, the bird life is flourishing. We think Bruce would be happy about that.
We have had a few committee members come and go, but the core group remains. 2017 has been a year where our public profile has been raised with many people getting in touch with us to be involved in different aspects of the project.
We have also had some great community recognition being a finalist in the Wellington Airport Community Awards and winning 300 trees in the “Trees that Count” Matariki giveaway. The best thing about the project is that it keeps growing, even when no one is working on it and the birds are helping by spreading the seeds around.
We invite the public to check out our project anytime. All the tracks are public access and if you would like to donate some money to help with the running costs of our project, we have set-up a Givealittle fundraising page.
The committee and Tapu te Ranga Marae would like to thank all the volunteers who have given their valuable time to the Manawa Karioi Ecological Restoration Project.
Written by Vanessa Patea
Sunday's working bee was the last planting for the year. With close to 30 people, including several young children, it was slightly chaotic but also lots of fun. We walked up through the 25-year-old plantings in the main gully to plant out a landslip that occurred late last year. We had to re-cut the track across the slip face and then put in about 50 trees, including a number of significant trees like kahikatea, matai, pukatea and two species of turepo. A further 15 trees were planted in a nearby area as well.
And like last week's working bee, as we got the planting done quickly we had time to do some track maintenance. This involved some re-leveling and the digging of drainage channels across tracks. The heavy rain in winter caused some tracks to flow like streams; the drainage channels help direct water off the track at regular intervals.
As planting has come to an end, we will reduce our working bees to once a month. This will involve more track maintenance as well as the start of our project to mark all the main tracks to make it easier for visitors to find their way around.
Dates are yet to be set so we will keep you posted later. Thanks to all our planting volunteers.
This morning I thoroughly enjoyed hosting about 100 lively children (aged 7-9) from Island Bay School at Manawa Karioi. They walked over from school and came with 3 teachers and about 8 parents.
They were split into 2 group and while I talked to the first group the others went walking in small groups keeping their eyes and ears open for what was around them - when they came back I heard excited stories about a dead possum in a tree, a dead rat about 20cm long, yucky worms. Then they swapped over and I talked to the ones who had been out walking.
When I talked to the groups I told them about what we are doing at Manawa Karioi (planting, weed control, tracks/signs), why we are doing it, the history of the project (and Bruce's key role in it and the Marae), why it is called Manawa Karioi, the difference between pioneer species and climax species and how we are now moving to concentrate on the latter, the birds that we see at Manawa Karioi now, and the reptiles/insects/soil beasties that also live there. I emphasised that the tracks are for everyone to use and invited everyone to come back with their families if they like walking. Several of the children told me that they had been to Manawa Karioi before; and several told me that they have a forest at home.
I ended my talk by asking them what they thought Manawa Karioi would look like if they came back in 20 years time.
I then demonstrated to both of the large groups how we plant a tree and helped some of the children to plant a further 4 trees.
It was a beautiful, calm, sunny morning and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. As they left they gave us a very generous koha of $150.00.
Written by Chris Liversey
This Sunday's working bee will be our last day of planting for the year. We will be planting at two sites in the main gully, roughly 500m from the Marae carpark. The larger of the two sites is a landslip that occurred last November. It is sheltered from the worst of the winter weather by the lay of the land and by some quite well-established trees from the first decade of planting at Manawa Karioi. Because of this, we will be able to put in a high number of trees that normally need to go under established canopy. These include kahikatea, turepo, matai, miro, kohekohe, nikau, tawa and pigeonwood.
Have a look at the different kinds of ground surface on the slip face and you can get the idea that some plants will prefer certain spots, some others. Mānuka, which we looked at last week, may be found around the edges of the slip. Another lovely tree species – kōtukutuku or tree fuchsia – might naturally be found towards the moister bottom end of a slip in the forest, and this weekend we have a few to plant out.
You may know and love an introduced fuchsia from your garden, but there are also four native species in Aotearoa, including kōtukutuku. What a beautiful tongue-twister of a name, and as a bonus, it is the largest tree fuchsia in the world among the 640 species of the Onagraceae or fuchsia family! There are also three other New Zealand fuchsia species, which are shrubs and vines, as well as the Epilobium genus of nearly 40 species of gracefully flowering herbs, but let’s just look at kōtukutuku (Fuchsia excorticata).
Kōtukutuku can grow to up to 14 m high and 80 cm diameter and is easily recognisable by its gnarled trunk and light-brown, peeling paper-thin bark. It often grows in regenerating low forest (for example after landslides or fire) and hence these larger trees stand out easily. The leaves are also thin and Kōtukutuku is one of our rare deciduous species, especially in the colder south. Like many of the introduced fuchsia species, the flowers turn a beautiful red-purple colour. The berries, called konini, also turn dark purple, almost black. Flowers and berries both hang directly from the branch, like kohekohe – another unusual feature of this species. The wood is gnarled and reddish-dark brown. Although beautiful and strong, it’s too twisted to be widely used commercially, but for the patient woodworker can form a lovely element of ornamental work.
In Wellington, you can find the occasional naturally growing kōtukutuku close to Manawa Karioi, in Carey’s Gully in the Owhiro catchment. There are also some fine specimens growing at Otari-Wilton Bush but the place where it can really be seen in profusion is in side valleys coming down to the Orongorongo Stream, at least where possums are being controlled. The leaves, flowers, and fruit are like “ice cream” foods for the possum and when they were not being controlled it looked as though kōtukutuku could become locally extinct in the Orongorongo forest, but fortunately, they have recovered there, as well as in the Wellington City places mentioned. Fortunately, possums are now a rarity at Manawa Karioi as well, and tui –for whom kōtukutuku is also a favourite food – becoming common. So with continued vigilance and the growth of our planted trees, kōtukutuku will become a
local feature here too and provide habitat for a burgeoning bird population.
We depart from the interpretation board shelter in the Tapu Te Ranga Marae carpark at 1 pm sharp. The driveway is signposted at the end of Danube St, Island Bay. Gloves, tools, and trees provided. We normally work until 3 pm. If you arrive late and can't find us, call 0221 277361.
As this is the end of planting for the year, we are heading to the marae for a special afternoon tea. We will be holding more working bees over the spring and summer focussing on track maintenance.
Written by Paul Blaschke
One of the trees we are planting out at Manawa Karioi this winter is Mānuka or tea tree (Leptospermum scoparium). Everyone knows of Mānuka, although it’s easily overlooked as a relatively small tree, not a forest giant, and it’s not a major species in our more notable forests. But it is one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most remarkable small tree species. Let’s take a closer look at it.
Mānuka is one of about 17 species of the Myrtaceae or myrtle family, a large family of some 3000 species of trees, shrubs and vines found mainly in tropical and warm temperate countries around the Pacific Ocean, but also including species in the West Indies and Europe. In New Zealand, myrtle family species include the pohutukawa and all the wonderful rata (Metrosideros) trees and vines, as well as Mānuka, its close relative Kānuka (Kunzia ericoides), and a few other related species. So Mānuka is in good company among its myrtle family members.
Mānuka has shortish, spiky needle-like leaves and pretty white spreading flowers. These grow in such profusion that Mānuka-covered hillsides can look as though they have a coating of snow. The withering flower reveals a broad and very hard five-valved capsule which is fire resistant. Take a close look at those capsules – they are very beautiful close-up.
Mānuka must be one of the most variable and adaptable of our native plant species. It grows in habitats from sea level to sub-alpine, can tolerate burning summers and snowy winters, arid hillsides and boggy hollows, fertile and barren soils. It is one of the first woody species to colonise landslide scars and other bare areas in the forest. You often see it on road cuttings. It grows as single trees up to more than 6 metres high, or as extensive thickets, sometimes only 20 or 30 centimetres high. This huge variety of forms is all contained within the one natural species, although many beautiful horticultural varieties have been bred, and widely admired in gardens all over the world.
Perhaps the most characteristic growth form of Mānuka is extensive thickets of often dense scrub about 3-5 meters high, sometimes forming an unbroken canopy, sometimes together with the slightly taller Kānuka. These thickets thrive for many decades until very gradually changing into more heterogeneous forest stands as new species slowly become established in the canopy. The thickets often grew up on farmland as less fertile or less accessible pastures were abandoned from extensive grazing, for example in parts of the Wairarapa and the East Coast. For farmers trying to “tame” nature, the scrub was seen as a curse, often burnt, crushed or hacked down to make way for new pasture (often no more successful than the old) or for pine plantations.
Mānuka has many uses, both in times past and now. In the past, it was an important medicinal plant for Māori; preparations from the leaves and bark were used to reduce fever, treat colds and as sedatives. In colonial times tea was truly brewed from its leaves and the very hard fragrant red wood was always highly regarded for fencing and for tool handles, and especially as a firewood fuel. But for now, Mānuka honey is the most valuable use.
A component chemical called methylglyoxal has known antibacterial properties and Mānuka honey is used externally as a wound dressing or eaten to reduce the risk of infection. There is debate about just how specific the medical benefits are, but few would deny the scrumptiousness of the honey. We can only hope that Mānuka and related species are not decimated by the newly arrived myrtle rust disease and other pathogens.
It’s ironic that the same Mānuka stands that were reviled and devastated only 20 years ago, are now valued so highly and actively managed as the food source for an industry that is seen as the saviour of many hill country districts. At Manawa Karioi Mānuka is not quite such a star, but it’s a versatile and much loved species for planting in various locations, whether on those exposed upper spurs, around boggy areas or around the beehives.
Written by Paul Blaschke.
Working bee Sunday August 20.
We depart at 1pm from the interpretation board shelter at the Tapu Te Ranga Marae carpark, signposted at the end of Danube St, Island Bay.
We will be going ahead rain or shine; wear good shoes and bring a jacket. Gloves, tools and plants are provided.
Planting will be around the beehives area, and will involve manuka and a number of locally rare shrub and small tree species. We finish planting around 3 - 3.30pm.
After planting we will go to the wharekai at the marae for tea and biscuits.
If you arrive late and can't find us, call 0221 277361.
A tree enthusiast and an ex-resident of Island Bay. Vanessa brings her digital skills to the volunteer team at Manawa Karioi - one of the oldest reforestation projects in Wellington.
With over 17 years experience volunteering with Manawa Karioi, Ross has a detailed knowledge of the project.
Paul Blaschke is an environmental consultant and part-time university lecturer. He loves living and working in Wellington’s southern suburbs, whether in the Owhiro catchment, the Town Belt near his home, or on the slopes at Manawa Karioi.
Chris and his partner and their 3 children were at the dawn planting of the first tree in 1991. He has maintained his involvement in the project ever since and gets great satisfaction now from seeing how much the trees have grown and how the associated native ecosystems have developed over those 26 years. Chris emphasises that providing tracks to enable the public to enjoy Manawa Karioi, and carbon sequestration, are both integral parts of the project.