20.04.10 00:25 Age: 12 yrs

Autumn News from the New Forest on the Maunga

By: Kit Howden

Five to ten Volunteers from the Friends of Maungawhau gather each Tues morning to help care for the "Forest of Maungawhau".

A forest is more than trees and is the ecosystem of many species from less than a millimeter in size to the largest pohutukawa. This is a slow process to restore a vegetation that belongs to New Zealand and not one dominated by pest plants that harm NZ species. 90% of NZ's species are found nowhere else on the planet. We have a moral and legal obligation to control plants that harm our indigenous and especially endemic species [e.g. the Whau tree or Entelia arborescens of which Maungawhau / Mt Eden is named is endemic - only found in NZ and nowhere else]. This is more important this year for it is the International Year of Biodiversity with the UN reporting large extinction taking place world wide.

Erosion on the Maunga
Over this dry summer volunteers have been cutting and stump poisoning privet and the results of this can be seen on the western slopes. This is done to release Pohutukawa that have been suffering from the competition. Also volunteers have been removing wire fencing from these trees that that was not removed decades ago when sheep once grazed this slope. In addition with the control of possums the pohutukawa will be healthier in future years. On the other hand this summer has possibly been a 50  year plus dry period which has resulted in the death of many plants. More than half the trees we planted last year have died or are dying as are many of the naturally regenerating plants. However this is natures way of balancing what species are suitable to the site and what are not.
The Friends are learning much from this natural extra dry period and are  identifying the species that survive and do well. E.g. harakeke, small leaved coprosmas and kohekohe. We do need more guidance, direction and clarification on how our efforts fit into the wider improved management of the Maunga.
The Friends operations have uncovered new terrace site used by graffiti / homeless  people and other areas that need to be checked by archaeologists.

More erosion...
Every month we meet with Council officers to examine operations and better practice in caring for the Maunga - these technical and planning meetings are a good way for the community to better engage in the care of heritage sites. The last meeting covered the multi million dollar repair of the reservoirs; mowing operations [the Friends believe mowing is too frequent in places leading to erosion]; areas not to be planted; removal of selected trees from terraces; non invasive fruit trees; erosion from high use; pest control and improved fire suppression. [We are calling for the Maunga to be a No Smoking Zone]

Protest activity at the summit
The Friends will continue to make submissions and advocate for a ranger / kaitiaki service to manage the Maunga; one "clear language"  management plan for all the cones; national reserve status and an "urban forestry approach to the management of the vegetation.

Reports & Submissions