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.
One of the key forest canopy species in lowland coastal forest in the North Island and Marlborough Sounds is kohekohe (Dysoxylum spectabile). It's quite an unusual tree. It belongs to a genus of tropical trees from Asia, with seeds making their way here countless thousands of years ago, adapting to the cooler climate experienced here. It is usually never found more than 5km from the coast.
As Manawa Karioi is only 1.5km from the nearest coastline, kohekohe would have been one of the main canopy species, growing to 15 metres tall. The further inland you go, the fewer kohekohe you will find, and it becomes a sub-canopy species as taller trees become dominant. It often grows in association with tawa.
You can find a remnant of kohekohe/tawa forest on the southern slopes of Johnston Hill in Karori, and there is a good stand of kohekohe on the Serpentine Walk that winds up behind the Dell in the Wellington Botanic Garden. It is also found along the Kaiwharawhara stream. In south Wellington, we are aware of only one mature kohekohe in Tawatawa Reserve just over the ridge from Manawa Karioi. And there are five known old trees on the Miramar peninsula.
For most of the year kohekohe blends in with other trees, but it really stands out when it is in flower. It's one of the few trees to flower in winter, and to have flowers coming straight out of the trunk and main branches.
Flowering begins around late June in Wellington, and lasts until late August. During this time they are an important nectar source for smaller forest birds. The seed capsules develop slowly, taking about one year. They bear three seeds surrounded by a orange-red fleshy structure called an aril. The larger native birds eat the arils, dispersing the seeds in the process.
Over the last 17 or so years, dozens of kohekohe have been planted at MK. Many are 4-5 metres tall but aren't flowering yet, despite being over 15 years old. The only one we have seen flowering at MK is only 3 metres tall and was planted around 2005/6. It's growing right next to the main track cutting across Seed Source Gully.
Here's a close-up shot of the flowers of this tree, taken late July.
Over the last couple of years we have been planting kohekohe from seed collected from the remaining five trees in Miramar. This year we will be planting several at each working bee this month, in three different locations.
As with every working bee this month we meet on Sundays and we depart 1pm sharp from the interpretation board shelter in the Tapu Te Ranga Marae carpark. This is up the driveway signposted at the end of Danube St, Island Bay. All trees, tools and gloves are provided. We will be planting regardless of weather, so bring appropriate clothing, shoes and a raincoat. If the weather is bad we can plant in the sheltered areas.
If you are late or can't find us, call 0221 277361.
Written By Ross Gardiner.
After winning the "Trees That Count" Matariki Giveaway, Manawa Karioi was faced with the dilemma of having up to 300 more trees to get to our planting site, about 600 metres from the Tapu Te Ranga Marae carpark.
The four wheel drive track that leads to the planting site is very muddy. Access via 4 wheel drive vehicle is possible, but would make a mess of the track.
Faced with that problem, the best alternative was to load the plants onto plastic trays and carry them on-site. Each tray requires 2 people to carry, and with 14 trays it was looking at being an ordeal.
But then, the Aspiring Leaders Forum (ALF) came to the rescue.
A nation-wide gathering of young people attending the Aspiring Leaders Forum in Wellington had committed to spending two hours performing some community work as part of their conference.
On Saturday July 29, over one hundred and twenty youth came to work at Tapu Te Ranga Marae, owners of the land that comprises the Manawa Karioi Ecological Restoration Project.
Thirty of those helpers were more than enough to carry all those trays to site, with enough time to plant a tree each.
This has saved us a lot of hard work, it was just the helping hand we needed before we start planting this Sunday August 6 with almost all the plants on-site.
For those interested in joining our working bee. We will meet at the interpretation board shelter at the Tapu Te Ranga marae carpark at 1pm every Sunday in August. The marae is signposted at the end of Danube St in Island Bay. All plants, tools and gloves are supplied. New volunteers are welcome.
We will be planting regardless of weather as we have several planting sites that are all fairly sheltered. If you have trouble finding us txt 0221 277361.
Written by Ross Gardiner
The basic premise for an ecological restoration project is simple: plant trees and wait for the birds, insects and other creatures to arrive. Look at it a bit closer and things get a little more complex. It’s not simply a case of planting whatever trees you can think of that will attract the more noticeable species of birds. It involves a bit of research to find out what species used to grow there, and what species are growing nearby. Then work out what species you need to establish first on your site to create shelter for further plantings of plants that cannot handle direct sun and wind.
The first decade at Manawa Karioi was spent planting out those first-stage plants. And first to move in were the smaller forest birds such as piwakawaka (fantail) followed by tui. The latter was a welcome surprise as when Manawa Karioi was established in 1990 there were estimated to be several breeding pairs of tui in Wellington. And while there were several pairs of kereru in the Hutt Valley, there was maybe one pair in Wellington city.
By 2000, planting at Manawa Karioi had entered the second stage, with planting of species such as kahikatea, kohekohe and nikau under the established canopy of hardy colonising species. At one working bee, 11 tui were spotted feeding in tree lucerne. It was to be another 6 or so years before a regular MK volunteer saw a kereru in Island Bay, perched on the guttering of his house.
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.