Birds Eye View on the Reserve

I met Malakai Tupou many years ago on one of my many visits to the Marae. Malakai is the grandson of Bruce Stewart and is of Tongan and Maori heritage. A builder by trade, Malakai is now living at the Marae in a whare bearing his name.

Last month I asked Malakai if he could get some images of the Manawa Karioi Reserve with his drone so we can document the progress of the restoration project and see the reserve from above as the birds do.


Tell me about your history with Tapu te Ranga Marae?

I’m a grandson of the founder of Tapu te Ranga, Bruce Stewart, so have been coming here since a wee kid, de-nailing timber and straightening out nails was something I remember doing as a kid.

Do you use the Manawa Karioi reserve yourself (how)?

I use it nearly every day to walk my dog, there are lovely bush walks and views.


What is your impression of how the Manawa Karioi land has changed over your years of living here?

When I was a kid, I remember walking up with the cousins to the pine trees and surfing down with cardboard trying to dodge the gorse, nowadays you can't as the native trees have pushed through and have created the lovely native bush we have today.


Tell me about your experience taking the drone photos, what were the challenges?

The day was a little windy so didn't want to fly too high, also there are planes that fly above so I just had to keep an eye out for them.


Do you see people using the tracks, what do you think this reserve gives back to the local community?

I see a lot of people using the tracks, dog walkers to tourist walkers to runners, the locals I talk to love the tracks and enjoy walking.

The reserve gives the locals a place to call home (their backyard) its  place that will never stop giving with its walking tracks to the natural enrichments that it gives us,

My grandfather once told me in one of many of his ideas he shared with me that, if everyone planted a native tree in their backyards it would benefit our future generations, and how true is that. To have one of the best reserves in Wellington in your backyard is awesome.


Introduction and Questions by Ness Patea.

What a difference a decade (or two) makes!

Nothing better illustrates the progress that can be rapidly made than a few photos that were taken decades apart. Here are three views looking at the main gully and hillside above the Tapu Te Ranga Marae carpark, and one shot from under the established canopy.


This photo was taken around 1994. The first plantings were done in 1991, and most are around 1 metre high. Notice that gorse is rapidly taking over the grassy slopes of the former farmland.


Photo 2 was taken in 2008. The canopy has gotten taller, and the plantings are spreading up the gullies. The gorse has also gotten taller and has become a major problem (along with blackberry) by blocking the tracks, which require a lot of effort to keep open. What isn't visible is that a lot of natural regeneration is occurring under the gorse. The seed source for this comes from the faster-growing species that have already been planted, as well as from nearby regenerating bush in the surrounding Town Belt. 
10 years earlier work had begun on establishing understory and future canopy and emergent species, with many nikau, as well as kahikatea, matai, miro and others


Photo 3 was taken recently in early 2018. Like the other two photos, it was taken when the gorse was in flower (bright yellow flowers) as this is the best way of distinguishing gorse from other vegetation. The first thing that really strikes you is how little gorse there is now. Many years of planting along the track sides have resulted in the gorse getting shaded out and dying off, making track maintenance much easier. This method also eventually shades out the blackberry. The canopy has grown up to 15 metres high in the lower gully, and the diversity of underplantings has greatly increased. Natural regeneration continues, with kawakawa becoming abundant. This plant gives this coastal part of south Wellington its' original name of "Paekawakawa".
As gorse is highly flammable, the risk of accidental fire is greatly lowered when forest returns, as many native trees are not as combustible. This has been shown from a couple of accidental fires at Manawa Karioi (possibly started by discarded cigarette butts) and also from several deliberately lit fires over the hill in Happy Valley.


A shot looking up at the canopy near where the fresh-water spring emerges. 20 years ago this was a sunny clearing choked with blackberry. Now the nikau and some of the podocarps are between 3-5 metres high!

Written by Ross Gardiner
Photos by Bernard Smith, Vanessa Patea

Clematis paniculata in Seed Source Gully

Clematis paniculata flowering in Seed Source Gully, not to be confused with introduced invasive Clematis vitalba (old man's beard).

This is possibly the first time this species has flowered at the Manawa Karioi site in 150 years.

Although occasionally present in gardens, this is a great step towards re-establishing this plant in the local area using locally sourced seed, thereby helping to protect the local gene pool of this species.

Planted 5 years ago, this is an example of our efforts to re-establish the broad range of plants that once existed in the area.

These are female flowers - the species is diecious (has separate male and female plants). So we will need to establish a few male plants nearby to pollinate it.

Peter Russell

Cle pan MK PKR.JPG

Podcast: $5000 grant to create new signs

Island Bay’s Manawa Karioi Ecological Restoration Project has won a $5000 grant to erect signs and put in track markers that will help people walk local bush trails.

The money comes from the Walking Access Commission’s Enhanced Access Fund, which supports local groups to build and preserve outdoor access - especially tracks and trails.

Walking Access went to Manawa Karioi to meet Chris Livesey from the restoration project. Chris says that currently the tracks, none of which are marked, can be a confusing web for people who have not used them before. New map panels at the entrances to Manawa Karioi and colour-coded track markers will help more people to enjoy them.

Listen to the podcast here.

Annual General Meeting 2018

Are you keen to help keep the wheels of the Manawa Karioi Ecological Restoration Project turning, or to learn more about the project?

If so, please:

  • come to the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Manawa Karioi Society at 1.30pm Sunday 23 September 2018 at Tapu Te Ranga Marae;

  • consider becoming a financial member of the Manawa Karioi Society (annual subscription $20; pay at the AGM or email for internet banking details);

  • consider joining the Society's Committee to help shape the direction of the project and to help with its implementation.

  • renew your membership

The context for our project is given by the Society's rather unique objectives - see below. The last year has seen good progress with additional planting, weed control and track maintenance. During the next year we will also be putting effort into track signage so that our tracks are more accessible and user-friendly. The AGM is an opportunity to collect our thoughts, review our progress and make plans for the future.

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