Planting Trees in Seed Source Gully - Working Bee on Sunday

 Last Sunday's working bee was a great success. Even with a couple of brief but heavy showers people were still keen to keep on working after 3pm.

Sunday’s Volunteer Team

Sunday’s Volunteer Team

 We cleared a whole lot of dead blackberry and other vegetation from around the historic water reservoir that was built in 1907 for the Home of Compassion and from the banks of the Manawa Karioi stream.


The last 30 metres of Union Rd was widened, and then we planted the stream banks with a mix of plant species.

Reinstating the last section of Union Road - originally constructed in 1907 to build the reservoir.

Reinstating the last section of Union Road - originally constructed in 1907 to build the reservoir.

In the near future we will finish clearing the soil from the roof of one corner of the water reservoir (from a small landslip 10 years ago) and install a picnic table.

Building Union Road - Now (2019) and Then (1907)

Building Union Road - Now (2019) and Then (1907)

On Aug 18 we will be planting in two areas. The first is a small area at the Danube St entrance of Tapu Te Ranga marae. We try to put in some of the locally-rare species at all our track entrances so that as people enter they notice that the bush looks different to that around most of the surrounding Town Belt tracks.
We will also be doing some planting around Seed Source Gully. This area was initially planted with hardy colonising species in 2002-2004. 

Once the first trees had created a canopy we began underplanting. The intention is to put small numbers of a wide range of species in the gully to provide a seed-source to spread into surrounding areas.

Seed Source Gully - Then

Seed Source Gully - Then

Seed Source Gully - Now

Seed Source Gully - Now

This Sunday we will put in some small understorey trees in the gully margins that have already had titoki, totara and rewarewa planted in them. Further up the gully, we will plant out an area that has been cleared of blackberry. The soil here is quite rich and holds moisture longer so is suitable for putting in some tawa, kohekohe, kotukutuku and putaputaweta. In previous years we have put in some rimu, totara and nikau. Many of these are now 3-4 metres tall.

A tunnel of revegetating bush with the planned picnic area at the top

A tunnel of revegetating bush with the planned picnic area at the top

August Planting Days: Sunday 4th Aug, Sunday 11th August, Sunday 18th August, Sunday 25th August from 1pm - 3pm.

Sunday's working bee departs at 1 pm from the interpretation board shelter at Tapu Te Ranga marae carpark, signposted at the end on Danube St. Wear suitable clothes and shoes. All tools and gloves are provided.

Manawa Karioi Fundraiser at Third Eye - Tuatara Breweries

We are hosting a social fundraising event on Friday 5th July from 6 pm - 8 pm. We invite all past and present volunteers, supporters and beer lovers to join us at The Third Eye - Tuatara’s Temple of Taste. If you love trees and tasty craft beer - we would love to see you there!


Come on out to The Third Eye - Tuatara’s Temple of Taste to sample “Union Road", a limited edition karma keg ale brewed specifically in support of the Manawa Karioi Ecological Restoration Project. All proceeds will go to support native tree planting, trail maintenance, and other operations at this beautiful nature reserve near Wellington’s south coast.

Founded in 1990, the Manawa Karioi Ecological Restoration Project is one of Wellington’s oldest revegetation projects and is situated on land in Island Bay owned previously by Sisters of Compassion. It is a community-driven initiative, operated by passionate community volunteers to bring back the bush and the birds.

Union Road - Event Cover_01.jpg

Union Road is a historic track at Manawa Karioi and was built approximately 100 years ago to provide access to the construction of the water reservoir which would supply the Home of Compassion. The name Union Road evokes the rich history of this area which now exists to regenerate native bush and further engage the Island Bay community with the whenua.


This social fundraising event was spearheaded by one of our committee members Kevin Thomas. It is fun to take some time out socially, have some chats and fundraise by drinking yummy craft beer at the same time, we think this fundraiser event is genius!

I asked Kevin some questions about brewing the beer and organising this fun event.

Tell me about your involvement in Manawa Karioi?

I discovered Manawa Karioi a few years ago when I attended a guided walk as part of the Island Bay Festival. I started volunteering for working bees, then I helped improve volunteer numbers via Meetup groups, and then more recently I joined the Board.

Can you tell me about what appealed to you about the Tuatara Breweries Karma Kegs as a possible fundraiser for Manawa Karioi?

I have seen karma kegs as charity fundraisers from various breweries around Wellington. I'm a big fan of Wellington's craft beer community and saw this as a fun opportunity to combine some of my personal passions.


What was the process of brewing 'Union Road' Beer like?

I thoroughly enjoyed working alongside Brayden Owlinson, Tuatara's Head Brewer, to create our karma keg beer at the Third Eye. We started the process on a Thursday at 7:00 AM and wrapped around 1:30 PM. Brayden kindly allowed me to help with some of the tasks such as the hop addition and beer transfer into the fermentation tank.

What did you gain from the process?

Brayden is incredibly knowledgeable about all things beer so I learned a lot about how different aspects of brewing, such as type of hop, temperature, and yeast variety, can dramatically influence flavour. I have home brewed before, but the Third Eye equipment is significantly larger scale and more automated than I have experienced before.

What are your hopes for the Friday night fundraising event?

I hope to raise awareness about Manawa Karioi because it's amazing little nature reserve just outside of the Wellington CBD with a fascinating history and a group of dedicated volunteer stewards. Also, I hope everyone in attendance learns a bit more about conservation and enjoys a tasty craft beer.

A big thanks to Kevin, Mary and Jerry for organising the event! We look forward to seeing you there!

Botanical Society Visit to Manawa Karioi

7 July 2018: Manawa Karioi Reserve

Eleven people braved the cold showery weather and were rewarded with a largely clear day for their exploration. Manawa Karioi is easily accessible from Danube St or Rhine St, Island Bay. Although privately owned by the Tapu Te Ranga Marae Trust, it is publicly accessible. As one of Wellington’s earliest restoration projects, and one which has been undertaken with ecological integrity from the outset, it is worth botanists’ attention and has recently been included in a comprehensive Waikato University study of urban forest restoration sites across NZ.

We traversed the main tracks in the northern part of the reserve and spent most of our time in two gullies where a range of restoration plantings have been concentrated. We had the benefit of an early (1992) species list compiled by Maggie Wassilieff, and a comprehensive up to-date list compiled by Pete Russell. The latter included a vast list of plant pests and other adventive NZ native and introduced species, indicating the size of the task any reserve manager hoping to undertake serious ecological restoration in a city suburb must undertake. We inspected and discussed the range of species planted.

In recent years Manawa Karioi has enriched the early planted successional species such as ngaio, Veronica parviflora, Coprosma spp, puka, kawakawa, māpou etc., with small numbers of later successional species including tawa, kohekohe, northern rātā, porokaiwhiri, Sophora spp, black maire, and the podocarps rimu, mataī, miro, kahikatea and tōtara, plus a few vines including kiekie and puawhānga.

All species planted since the start have been locally ecosourced. We were pleased to see the range of planted species that are now freely regenerating, including tōtara, ngaio (very prolific and probably now the most significant forest canopy dominant), kōwhai, and many smaller broadleaved trees. We also saw small apparently regenerating puawhānga (now flowering, see photo), and a few planted swamp maire which are doing well. Thanks to Eleanor who collated the species observations which included several additions to the list, including six fern species. We also observed for the first time Coprosma areolata which may well have selfintroduced from Tawatawa Reserve across the ridge. Non-local natives such as karaka, karo, lacebark and five-finger hybrids are also thriving, and we discussed weed control priorities, which Manawa Karioi are now reassessing.

Our pick of the most urgent control priorities included climbing asparagus, wild ginger, Darwin’s barberry, flowering cherry, privet and karo. With the exception of karo, these are all of relatively limited distribution in the reserve. We felt that generally the reserve was in good condition with fewer weeds impeding native succession than in comparable Wellington reserves.

Participants: Paul Blaschke (leader/scribe), Eleanor Burton, Gavin Dench, Michelle Dickson, Richard Grasse, Kate Jordan, Rodney Lewington, Russell Poole (Palmerston North), Peter Russell (Manawa Karioi group), Sunita Singh (co-leader), Xavier Warne.

Volunteer Scrub-cutter Operators Needed.

We are looking for Volunteer Scrub-cutter Operators for mowing the grass on the tracks through the reserve with a scrub-bar every 6-8 weeks during the period November - April and less frequently during the rest of the year. Each volunteer will be responsible for a section of track that will take about 2 hours to mow. The scrub-bar and fuel and safety equipment will be provided by us. We are an ecological restoration project in Island Bay that is open to the public and is a valued recreational resource for walkers: runners: mountain bikers and horse riders. We would like scrub-bar operators to commit to doing the job for a minimum of 6 months and would be delighted for them to continue beyond that for as long as they like. 

Contact us to register your interest -


Guided Walk at Manawa Karioi - 2019

We are hosting two of our popular guided walks at Manawa Karioi in March 10th at 11am and 1pm.

Join us for a casual walk around the tracks with a Manawa Karioi with some of our committee members and hear about the progress of the restoration project, hear about the history of the land and discover some new tracks.

Please bring a gold coin koha that will go towards the running costs of our project. Dogs are welcome on leads.

Meeting at Tapu te Ranga Marae carpark by the interpretation board at the end of Danube Street.


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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