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The following news snippets were also published in the Wellington Botanical Society Newsletter

December 2011 News

From the President

As Christmas rapidly approaches this will be our last formal communication for the year.   But never fear, our summer trip to Taranaki is coming up next month.   The organisation of this trip, by the very capable Mick Parsons, is well in hand, and he has some fabulous places lined up for us to visit.   The trip will be an excellent follow-on from Val Smith’s recent talk on the people who have contributed to our knowledge and appreciation of Taranaki’s flora.   For details of the summer trip see the programme in this newsletter.

At our last meeting we were treated to the presentation of the H H Allan Mere award to Wellington-based Dr Wendy Nelson.   The award was presented by Anthony Wright, President of the NZ Botanical Society, for Wendy’s “outstanding contribution to New Zealand botany”.   As well as being an internationally recognised seaweed taxonomist, Wendy is a strong advocate for marine conservation.

Two further awards were made at the meeting, one each to students Charlotte Hann and Corey Meister.   Charlotte earned her award as the winner of BotSoc section of the NIWA Science Fair, and Corey for his conservation efforts around Wellington.   VUW students Maheshini Mawalagedera, Bridget Read, Susanne Krejcek, Guyo Gufu, and Hamish Carson spoke on their respective areas of research – these talks being a requirement of their being awarded student study grants by the Society.

I wish you all a very happy Christmas and New Year.

Chris Moore, President

Watts Peninsula/Te Motu Kairangi public reserve

On 1 November, Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister, Chris Finlayson, announced the establishment of a 76 ha reserve on Watts Peninsula, at the north end of Miramar Peninsula, Wellington Harbour.   The new reserve area is a prominent landmark, and an historically significant part of New Zealand.

“I am delighted to announce that Watts Peninsula will be protected as a place of national significance for all New Zealanders,” Mr Finlayson said.   “We now have the opportunity to preserve and regenerate it as a space for future generations to enjoy.   The site will be protected as a distinctive national destination with cultural and recreational potential.”

Reserve status will retain the land in public ownership and ensure the area receives full heritage protection, he said.   In addition it will enable the preservation of indigenous flora and fauna, such as native orchids, skinks and little blue penguins.

Source: News release, 1/11/11

Indigenous plants and animals on Miramar Peninsula

The district plan lists Watts Peninsula, at the north end of Miramar Peninsula, as a large and compact area of natural regeneration forming a backdrop to the north Miramar suburban area.   The plan notes the peninsula has potential to be developed as a scenic or recreation reserve.

The assessment of natural biodiversity is hampered by a lack of quantitative data, particularly of the western and central parts of the property.   A plant species list was prepared for Mahanga Bay bush on the property during a Wellington Botanical Society field trip; lists were also prepared during field trips to the nearby Nakora Rd bush, Nevay Rd / Darlington Rd bush, and Maupuia Park.   These sites have assemblages of naturally occuring native plant species, ranging from cabbage trees, dicotyledonous trees and trailing plants, to lianes, ferns, orchids, sedges and herbaceous plants.   There are several notable species present, though few have a threat status.

On the western fringe from Shelly Bay northwards, the coastal cliff vegetation grades from coastal herbs and dry-land plants into shrub hardwoods interspersed with pohutakawa; thence higher up into pine forest.   Native birdlife in indigenous remnants includes tui, bellbird, kingfisher, fantail, grey warbler and waxeye.   During the breeding season, little blue penguin inhabit burrows on the hill slopes.   Lizard species including common skink, common gecko and copper skink are expected to occur, and the Wellington green gecko, which has been found on adjoining sites, are also expected occur.   The possum-free status of Miramar Peninsula accords the Watts Peninsula property a high status for restoration of wildlife through natural processes.   District Plan Significance Assessment: Medium-High

Source: Watts Peninsula Coalition

Annual Student Field Grants 2011–12

The following post-graduate students of the Victoria University of Wellington School of Biological Sciences have been granted funds under the Society’s Student Field Grant Fund:
Patrick Kavanagh :   Contribution to the cost of travel to the Chathams for testing the thesis that insular taxa have lessened dispersal capability.
Anne Wietheger :   Assistance with cost of travel and chemical for her study of stress- resistance and susceptibility in symbiotic dinoflagellate cells (Symbiodinium spp.) from different coral hosts.
Karl Graeme Yager :   Contribution to field costs in his project to use landmark measurements and PCA on species within Alseuosmia to quantify the similarity of leaf shape that is observed in the field.
Emma Gibbin :   Contribution to travel and related costs in her study of the symbiont diversity and the regulation of internal pH in cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis.
Maheshini Mawalagedera :   Financial assistance towards the cost of presenting the outcome of her PhD research on the antioxidant activities of Sonchus oleraceus at the 26th International Conference on Polyphenols.
Stefanie Pontasch :   Contribution towards field costs of a study of temperature tolerance in high latitude Symbiodinium.
Thomas Krueger :   Assistance toward costs of his study of the expression and activity of antioxidants in Symbiodinium spp. and their importance in explaining differential bleaching resistance of corals under thermal stress

Otari-Wilton’s Bush report

Kia ora everyone.

We’re winding down for a good Christmas break at Otari, finishing off a few jobs and trying to keep up with the weeds that seem to spring up anew everyday with all the rain and warmth we’ve been having.   There has been lots of lush growth and flowering in the collections this month.   Two plants of interest that are in flower now are Anisotome latifolia, in bud as I write this, and Leptinella featherstonii.

Two Anisotome latifolia – endemic to Auckland Islands and Campbell Island – are planted in the Banks Entrance gardens near the entrance to Otari School.   Both are handsome, robust plants and one is just sending up its first flower since we planted it outside.   The Leptinella featherstonii is planted in the Brockie Rock Garden alongside the Cockayne lawn.   This Chatham Island endemic is most unlike other Leptinella and is in flower now.   It remains to be seen how these will perform over the summer, so if you want to see them, get in quick.

In the nursery we’ve had some success propagating some of the plants that are sparse in our forest.   We’ve had cuttings strike for Nestegis montana and Streblus banksii.   These will go back into our forest and other nearby reserves, along with Raukaua edgerleyi and Pittosporum cornifolium that we have raised from seed.

In the gardens we have been finishing a new path from the lookout down to the Rainshadow Garden.   This is work we planned for in our Landscape Development Plan to get people from the lookout down to this part of the garden.   It also extends our grasses and sedges garden area which we’ll merge into the coastal garden.

Last month we welcomed Peter Griffen on board as our new Assistant Gardener.   Peter is returning to work after spending a few years looking after his children.   He comes with a background working for DOC on Kapiti Island among other roles.

We have just added a new feature to the Otari webpage (at   An education unit is now available as a free download.   The booklet is linked to the curriculum and guides teachers and pupils through the Nature Trail.   This is a major addition to our educational resource, designed to make it easy for teachers who would like to conduct learning outside the classroom but are not sure where to start.   Bring on the kids!

I hope to catch up with some of you in Taranaki on the BotSoc field trip – I hope a couple of the staff will also be able to come.   From all the staff at Otari, have a great Xmas and New Year.

Rewi ElliotManager, Otari-Wilton’s Bush, Wellington City Council

26th John Child Bryophyte and Lichen Foray, 1–6 December 2011

Thirty-five enthusiasts assembled at Matawai, between Gisborne and Opotiki, for the annual workshop and foray for those interested in mosses, liverworts, hornworts and lichens.   The mainly NZ group was joined by enthusiasts from the USA, Sweden and Australia.   Expertise ranged from that of long-term professional bryologists and lichenologists, to first-timers learning about these non-vascular plants.   Local DOC staff provided information on the area and accompanied us on field visits.

Despite some damp weather, we visited local reserves each day.   These included Whinray Scenic Reserve, Manganuku Track and Bridge Stream at Wairata in the Waioeka Gorge, Rakauroa Scenic Reserve, Te Wera Reserve, and Moanui Conservation Area.

Microscopes were set up in Matawai Memorial Hall where specimens could be examined and demonstrated.   This kept most people busy from mid-afternoon to late evening.   A few local people took up the invitation to visit and see what was going on.   Over the next several months work will continue on the collections made so as to produce lists of species found in each location visited.

Evening lectures covered a variety of subjects including three from students competing for the Tom Moss Award.   This award went to Kelly Frogley from Otago University.   She described the vegetation of a marsh lens in the Catlins.   The study compared the results when including and excluding bryophytes.

Thanks are due to Anne Redpath the local organiser, to Leon Perrie who led in the field and to Anne Gaskett and her team from Auckland University who provided and set up the microscopes.

It is hoped to have the 2012 foray in Stewart Island or, failing that, in the southwest of the South Island.

Rodney Lewington and Darea Sherratt

Natural-born killers

The use of insects and diseases to control certain weeds in New Zealand has been around since the 1930s, but their potential as a realistic option for controlling weeds is only now being realised.   Greater Wellington Regional Council Biosecurity Officers, Harvey Phillips and Megan Banks, look at the many benefits of using biological control to keep weeds at bay.

Biological control or biocontrol is the use of one living organism to control another.   Many of the weeds causing problems in NZ have come from overseas, but they are not problems in their country of origin.   This means insects, diseases and fungi feed on these plants in their own country.   Biocontrol is about introducing those organisms into NZ to do the same here in an effort to keep the plants in check.

The use of biocontrol is best suited to species that are widespread, where it is not cost-effective or environmentally friendly to control them with chemicals or other means.   Also a widespread weed will provide the biocontrol agent with a food supply that will allow the agent to increase in numbers and have maximum effect.

The release of one agent to target a weed sometimes may not be enough.   For some plants, several agents that attack different parts of the plant including its leaves, stems, roots, and seeds may be needed to reduce its weediness.   For example broom has broom gall mites, leaf beetles, pysllids, seed beetles, shoot moths and twig-miners all attacking it at once, leading to an overall weakening of the plant.


Biocontrol is not a quick fix solution for controlling weeds, but if you can wait, you will see a decrease in the vigour of plants with the introduction of some agents.   This may take 10-20 years for some species, but others may be damaged in a relatively short time.   This will not suit everyone, because weeds can spread significantly in 10-20 years.

In some areas, broom and gorse have been noticeably damaged by agents and are struggling as a result.   Thistle agents have attacked seeds which makes noticing damage difficult.   One of the more obvious success stories in recent times has been that of the ragwort flea beetle which attacks the roots of ragwort.   This appears to have significantly reduced ragwort on farmland in the Wellington region.


Buddleia is a major weed in forestry areas where it often out-competes young trees, hindering their establishment.   The initial signs of damage by the recently released buddleia leaf-weevil are promising with the agent establishing readily and causing significant damage to foliage.

Thistles on farms cause millions of dollars of lost productive land, and equal sums in chemical costs to control infestations.   The green thistle-beetle, released in the Wellington region several years ago aims to reclaim some of these losses and all signs so far are encouraging.

Most of the focus in the past has been on the biocontrol of weeds on agricultural land.   However there is a shift towards finding effective agents that will attack some of the widespread environmental weeds.   An increasing focus on “green” techniques for controlling weeds, and a higher demand for organic produce, will see alternatives to chemical control increase in the future.

Tradescantia is a widespread environmental weed that stops anything that wants to grow through it from doing so.   The recent release of the tradescantia leaf-beetle that attacks the foliage of the plant is a major step forward, and damage in testing has been encouraging.   This agent will soon be released in the region.

Greater Wellington leads the biocontrol programme in the Wellington region with some support from DOC and selected district councils.   Agents that are now at work include those for gorse, broom, thistles, ragwort and buddleia.   These are released and distributed around the region when numbers are large enough.   For more information contact: Biosecurity Department, Greater Wellington Regional Council, 0800 496 734, or pest.plants (at),

Benjamin Winder, Biosecurity Officer, Greater Wellington Regional Council

A. P. (Tony) Druce’s Trip Book – reprint 2011

Tony Druce kept in an exercise book a record of his 985 botanical field trips throughout NZ from 1934 to 1994, listing dates, destinations and fellow botanists.   The book was too fragile to take a lot of handling, so Wellington BotSoc committee agreed to get it photocopied and called it A. P. (Tony) Druce’s Trip Book.   This made it more accessible and it has been reprinted once already.   WBS committee decided to find out if there was enough interest to justify a second re-printing.   Carol West prepared and sent information about this for publication in the NZ Botanical Society’s (NZBS) newsletter to gauge interest.   Enough orders were received for the scheme to go ahead, so a bibliography was added, and an obituary for Tony, with permission from the NZBS committee, as it was written by the then Editor, Carol West, for NZBS Newsletter No. 56 June 1999.

We are grateful to NZ Print for doing such a good job of the re-print.   The cost of re-printing was $22.50 per copy for the 88 pages.   Post and packaging will be $3.50, making a total of $26.00.   More books were printed than the orders received, so there are still some available that can be ordered from: WBS, Box 10 412, WN 6143, bj_clark (at)

Barbara Clark, Secretary

WCC revegetation programme

During the past planting season, WCC’s Berhampore Nursery supplied 91,415 eco-sourced native plants for revegetation plantings on the Town Belt, reserves, and road reserve.   The plantings, including 89 species, were done by WCC Parks and Gardens staff and community groups.

Source: Nicki OliverSmith, Manager, Berhampore Nursery

Paekawakawa Bush Reserve

The 3.5-acre reserve north of Ribble St, Island Bay, is protected under an Open Space Covenant with the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust.   It is owned by the community and administered by the Island Bay Natural Heritage Charitable Trust (IBNHCT).

Paekawakawa was the name for the area near the reserve.   The area was named by Maori around 1860 - it means the place of many kawakawa.   Kawakawa plants were, and are, used in traditional Maori healing remedies.   The reserve is home to many native birds including tui, piwakawaka (fantails), riroriro (grey warblers) and tauhou (silvereyes).   More occasional visitors are ruru (moreporks), kotare (kingfishers) and pipiwharauroa (shining cuckoos).   Kereru (wood pigeons), kaka and hihi (stitchbirds) have been sighted.

Fencing between the Reserve and neighbours’ properties has been completed and work has been done to remove weeds and selected trees from the reserve.   The reserve is not yet ready for public access.   A track into it must be completed before the public can use the reserve safely.   Work on developing the track is underway, with Wellington City Council providing consultative assistance.   We expect to open the reserve to the public in 2013, once the tracks are completed.

Robert Logan, who went missing in August 2010, established the IBNHCT.   His vision led to the plan to purchase the land and establish Paekawakawa Reserve.   The trust is indebted to Robert for his vision of a greener Island Bay and a restored South Coast, and for the time he spent bringing those visions to reality.   This includes his work for the IBNHCT, his work on the Island Bay Residents’ Association and the Southern Environmental Association, and in taking cases to the Environment Court.

Robert worked tirelessly for our community and our Trust and he is missed as a friend, tree planter, visionary and as a lawyer committed to environmental issues.


The Trust has, since 2006, raised $115,000.   Our fundraising efforts must continue to provide money to develop the tracks and to purchase seats for the reserve and to meet administrative costs.   We will be seeking grants to develop the track, but the nature of the reserve means that we are not eligible for all ecological restoration grants.

Thanks to all those who have supported the trust.

As we celebrate the creation of the reserve, we acknowledge the contribution of those who have made it possible.   They include:
•   Mick Rose and the Morgan Foundation
•   the Island Bay and South Coast Community, where many of our 145+ donors live in Island Bay, and our other donors from further afield
•   Bunnings who made a $1,000 donation for the timber for the fence material
•   Nick Churchouse and Mrs Sen, neighbours of the reserve, who have allowed access to the reserve for workbees.

Weed control and other tasks

The Southern Environmental Association (SEA) has held several workbees to remove weeds from the reserve, and plant trees to shelter the proposed track from the neighbours.   Other work to open the reserve will include:
•   developing an ecological restoration plan
•   track construction
•   establishment of seats alongside the track
•   signage
•   landscaping on the lower levels of the reserve
•   control of pest plants
•   tree planting to provide further food and habitat for native birds
•   organising an official opening for the reserve.

IBNHCT Inc, c/o 36 Ribble St, Island Bay, Wellington 6023

Editor: BotSoc prepared a preliminary list of native and introduced plant species in the reserve during a field trip on 6 June 2009.   The list will be a guide for the preparation of the ecological restoration plan.

Talisman Nursery

The nursery has a list of over 260 species of native plants available in planter-bag sizes PB3, PB8 and PB28.

Stephen and Karen Whitton, Talisman Nursery, 135 Ringawhati Rd, RD 3 Otaki 5583, Phone 06 364 5893, E-mail talisman.otaki (at)

Ranger Vacancy – LUCAS Monitoring programme

R&D Ecosystem Management

Do you enjoy a challenge and want to work among some of NZ’s most spectacular scenery?

From January to April 2012, DOC is recruiting field staff to join monitoring teams re-measuring permanent forest plots throughout the North and South islands.   The plots are part of the LUCAS (Land Use and Carbon Storage) monitoring programme developed to monitor biodiversity and measure changes in carbon storage in indigenous vegetation.   The plots are established in woody indigenous vegetation on an 8-km grid across NZ.   The Ministry for the Environment is the lead agency for reporting on carbon storage in NZ forests.   DOC is the lead agency for monitoring biodiversity, and in a complementary project is building on the LUCAS vegetation programme to measure other aspects of biodiversity (birds and pest mammals) and non-woody environments on Public Conservation Land.

The successful applicant will have:
•   experience in vegetation monitoring, particularly the 20m x 20m permanent plot method and the recce method
•   excellent botanical skills
•   experience of working and staying in remote, steep, forested terrain
•   a high level of fitness
•   ability to work well as part of a team, and be reliable
•   excellent data-recording ability and attention to detail
•   ability to manage time effectively, and prioritise to ensure necessary work is completed on schedule
•   ability to spend significant periods (up to 20 days) away from home, and work long days
•   a genuine interest in DOC’s management of natural and historic resources, conservation and environment.

Qualifications needed :
•   a current driver’s licence
•   field work experience
•   a first aid certificate is desirable
•   a 4WD qualification is desirable
•   training or experience in 20m x 20m forest-plot measurement is desirable.

People will be required to work and stay overnight in the backcountry, in remote and rugged terrain, and to work outside normal working hours with field trips of up to 20 days.   The work is physically demanding and requires a high level of fitness and back-country experience to ensure the person can do the work.   Excellent team and fieldwork skills are essential, plus sound computer and communication ability, and the ability to enjoy contributing to a busy and diverse working team.   Teams will be based in Christchurch and Palmerston North.   There will be movement between these locations as required.

Because of the nature of this position, the employee may be required to complete a pre-employment health questionnaire, and undertake a medical examination.   It may also be a requirement, with the employee’s consent, that his / her health be monitored in relation to the hazard or hazards encountered on the job.

For more information please contact Mike Perry, perrym (at)

As we are looking for a January start, positions will be filled as soon as suitable applicants are found.   Please e-mail your application to perrym (at)

Friends of Percy Scenic Reserve

I am the volunteer co-ordinator with Hutt City Council’s Parks and Gardens group.   We seek people interested in helping to establish a “Friends of Percy Scenic Reserve” volunteer group.   Can you help us please?

Potential activities include:
•   being an advisory group and submitting input on the development of the reserve
•   providing guided walks for visitors and schools
•   working with council to re-establish tracks
•   participating in seasonal community events.

If you are interested in joining this group, please contact me:

Kristan Robinson, Volunteer Co-ordinator, Hutt City Council, 30 Laings Rd, PBag 31912, Lower Hutt.   Phone DDI 04 570 6734, mobile 0274 435 224, fax 04 570 6871, e-mail kristan.robinson (at)

Frances Lee honoured

Frances Lee won the Kaitiaki category of the Encore Awards, developed by Greater Wellington Regional Council, DOC’s Wellington Hawke’s Bay Conservancy and Wellington Hawke’s Bay Conservation Board.

This award honours the sustained and significant work of individuals for the environment, or in the conservation of native plants, animals or threatened ecosystems.

Frances has been the main driving force behind the Trelissick Park Group, in Ngaio, Wellington, since it was formed in 1991.   She has also been heavily involved in pursuing other causes in the Wellington area affecting the environment; e.g. developments associated with the Old Coach Road (near Johnsonville), the waterfront, and Kaiwharawhara estuary and reclamation.   We congratulate Frances!

Forest & Bird Denniston Plateau BioBlitz – Call for volunteers

Forest & Bird (F&B) is organising a BioBlitz on the West Coast’s Denniston Plateau from the evening of Friday 2 March to the evening of Sunday 4 March.

The Denniston Plateau is part of a unique ecosystem in the NZ landscape.   Evolved from sandstones laid down over coal measures 40-60 million years ago, tectonic uplift has raised these pavements to c. 600m a.s.l.   The climatic conditions and infertile environment have given rise to about twenty different ecosystems, including species endemic to the area, such the giant land snail, Powelliphanta patrickensis.

F&B’s objectives in organising the BioBlitz are to: -
•   Increase public awareness of the biodiversity of the plateau (including members and supporters of F&B) -
•   Increase our knowledge of the plateau by sampling plots across the twenty different ecosystems and potentially identifying species not previously known
•   Provide further scientific information to support our application for a 5900-ha reserve centred on the plateau
•   Stimulate public pressure on the National-led government to decline an application by Bathurst Resources for an open-cast coal mine the plateau.   In 2010 the government promised to publicly notify applications for access arrangements for all future significant mines on conservation land.   Australian company Bathurst Resources has been given resource consent for the open-cast coal mine at Denniston, but it also needs a concession and access arrangement from the Minister of Conservation.   The Minister has now declined to publicly notify the mine and allow the public to comment.

About BioBlitz

BioBlitz is a concept for promoting biodiversity research and public awareness¹.   Protocols and other planning materials are available from Landcare Research in Auckland².   The materials cover matters such as health and safety, protection of the environment, handling and return of specimens, and data recording.

Traditionally a BioBlitz takes place over a 24-hour period when teams of scientists work with members of the public to locate and identify as many species as possible in the defined area.   The challenge is to find as many species as possible – and usually some new species are found.   A base camp is set up at the survey area with technical equipment and other resources for identifying and recording species.   Because of the vastness of the plateau, this BioBlitz will be held over a weekend.

Volunteers required

Volunteers are being sought to join teams to help find unusual plants and wildlife.   People need to be fit and keen to get down to ground level in looking for life among the shrubs, rocks and humus for shifts of about six hours.   Previous experience of fieldwork in the outdoors is welcome, but not necessary.   You will be working with people experienced in the outdoors, with informal opportunities for discussion and learning.   Please volunteer yourself, or suggest others who may like to be involved.

Location: The Denniston Plateau is 600m above sea level, c.18 km northeast of Westport.


A group booking at Gentle Annie has been made for Friday 2 March to Sunday 4 March.   Volunteers will have to pay for their accommodation and make their own meal arrangements.   Gentle Annie is at the mouth of the Mokihinui River and provides accommodation options ranging from tenting to bunkrooms.   More details will be made available to registrants.

Please contact organiser Rachel Hurford at r.hurford (at) for more information.   Details are also available on Denniston BioBlitz as they come to hand.

To enable smooth organisation, please register by 30 January 2012.

¹ See for a description of the concept and information about Minnesota BioBlitzes
² See

Conservation Management Strategies (CMS) – Review process

DOC is reviewing the Conservation Management Strategies.   These documents guide what DOC will do in each conservancy.   A short video explaining their role is on the DOC web site: if you are interested.

Source: Federated Mountain Clubs’ June newsletter.   The Committee

Mistletoe colony

On Friday 18 November, Richard Farrell, Environmental Officer, Greater Wellington Regional Council, discovered a colony of at least sixteen, healthy, Ileostylus micranthus plants growing on tree lucerne, Chamaecytisus palmensis, next to SH2 / River Road, Upper Hutt.   To visit the site, travel south on SH2, turn left off it c. 100 m south of Moonshine Bridge, then travel c. 1 km south along the dirt road on the river terrace.   To regain SH2, continue right to the end of the dirt road that eventually climbs gently to the highway.   Do not use the first, steep, dirt road up to the highway.


Guided visit to Percy Scenic Reserve

Entrance to Percy Reserve.   Photo: Hutt City Council.
On 8 November four BotSoccers had the privilege of being guided around the rock garden and propagation houses at the reserve, by Manager Jill Broome who had invited us.   After years of noise, dust, vibration, disturbance and worry about how these precious plants might be affected by the massive roadworks alongside, the reserve now offers a welcoming, well-landscaped entrance and no obvious damage to the plants.   We enjoyed the special pleasure of re-acquainting ourselves with Tony Druce’s alpine collection, many of them in flower.   Memories of being on trips with Tony when these alpines were collected, were vivid, and similarly, seeing the profusion and diversity of plant species in the rock garden in such good condition, was a botanical treat.

Participants :   Eleanor Burton, Chris Horne, Barbara Mitcalfe and Chris Moore.

Karori Tunnel eastern portal planting

The tunnel portal is to be strengthened early in the new year, but Robert Hon, WCC engineer, has assured me that it is not expected that there will be any disturbance to the indigenous planting on top of the tunnel.   The trees have grown well, some now being 3 metres high and flowering.   Unfortunately the tree lucernes too have grown well and will outpace the natives unless removed as soon as possible.   This work is expected to be done by the WCC weed team.

Barbara Mitcalfe

October 2011 News

From the President

It’s good to be back home after a month in China doing a tour of the Silk Road – a few thousand kilometres from the tropical rain-forests of southern China.   I say “good” because it’s just reinforced for me how “botanically” lucky we are to live in this lush country.   We spent much of the tour driving through the vast northern deserts of Gobi and Taklamakan.   By definition these areas are arid and desolate.   What vegetation we saw was sparse and stunted.   Even Heavenly Lake, near Urumqi, in the far north-west of the country, was relatively arid – its conifer forest was sparse and, like most conifer forests, was lacking in species’ variety.   Atmospheric pollution was minimal, though, compared to that found in the big cities such as Beijing, but distant views were still obscured by fine particles of wind-blown sand from the deserts.

Talking of Beijing, the pollution there was so thick views were limited to a few hundred metres.   Being not too far from the Gobi Desert, wind-blown sand also contributed to the hazy atmosphere.   All plants were coated with a thick layer of dirt – how I wished for rain to freshen them up.   This is why I say we are botanically lucky in this country.   We are never too far from one of our lush native forests – forests with a good range of species, adequate rainfall, and little atmospheric pollution.

Just as an aside I came across, for the first time, a flowering Osmanthus fragrans in Beijing – what deliciously fragrant flowers it has!

Chris Moore

President’s Report, 72nd Annual General Meeting of the Wellington Botanical Society

•   An excellent joint summer trip to Fiordland with the Botanical Society of Otago.
•   The discovery by Allison Knight of a lichen, new to science, during the summer trip.
•   Publication of Bulletin 53 by Leon Perrie.
•   Securing continued tenure for our monthly meetings in Lecture Room MYLT101, Murphy Building, Victoria University.
•   AP Druce Memorial 2010 lecture by Lisa Forrester on Northland’s special plants and places.

Special thanks
This AGM completes my first year as president.   As a relative newcomer to the society and, being a bit of a botanical novice, I have been delighted with the support and encouragement given to me by the membership and by the committee in particular.   My sincere thanks to you all.

There was a slight fall in membership over the year.   This was largely the result of culling 13 non-paying members from the membership list.   Current membership comprises 122 Ordinary Members, 48 Country Members, 56 Group Members, 41 Life Members, and 3 Student Members.   Seven new members joined during the year.

It was sad to lose society stalwart Arnold Dench who died on 29 August 2010.   His regular attendance at meetings, with all manner of plants from his garden for sale, will be sorely missed.   His botanical legacy will live on with many of his plants being distributed to Otari-Wilton’s Bush and Percy Scenic Reserve.   A memorial award has been established in Arnold and Ruth Dench’s name; details are shown under Awards.

We send our condolences to the families of Jeanette Putnam, ‘Jock’ Fleming, and Harry Stimpson, who died during the year.

The main field trip of the year was our summer trip to Fiordland – a joint trip with the Botanical Society of Otago.   In Fiordland we climbed Gertrude Saddle overlooking Milford Sound, Mt Burns above Borland Saddle, and Key Summit near the Routeburn Track.   A highlight was the long climb to Lake Orbell in the Murchison Mountains – the latter being hallowed ground for conservationists as it is the last wild refuge of very rare takahe.

Our accommodation was in the beautiful surroundings of Boyd Creek.   We stayed either in the Boyd Creek Lodge itself, or in tents nearby.   The mistletoe Alepis flavida was in full flower above one of the tents.   The botanical and scenic variety of this trip, along with the mostly fine weather, made it especially enjoyable.

In addition to the Fiordland trip, there were 11 field trips in the relatively plentiful forest in and around the Greater Wellington area.   These forests lend themselves to the continuing efforts of the society to educate and foster conservation.   In particular, the lists prepared of the native and exotic vegetation seen on these trips are an invaluable resource for tracking the health of local ecosystems.

Further to the field trips, three workbees were held during the year, one to the AP and H Druce QEII National Trust Open Space Covenant in Pinehaven, and two to Te Marua Bush, Upper Hutt.   The society works in partnership with Greater Wellington Regional Council to tend this reserve.   An average of 11 members attended the local field trips and workbees.

Ten meetings were held during the year.   There were no meetings in December or January.   The most well-attended, with 50 members at each, were last year’s AP Druce Memorial Lecture on Northland’s Special Plants and Places by Lisa Forrester, and a talk about sun orchids and potato orchids by Jeremy Rolfe.   The average attendance at all meetings was in the high thirties.


Three newsletters were produced during the year; one each in September, December, and May.   They were compiled by Chris Horne and formatted by Jeremy Rolfe.   A very high standard was met in each, and the membership has been rewarded with a wealth of information on the society’s activities.

Richard Herbert has done an excellent job in bringing us the redesigned website:

Leon Perrie edited the society’s bulletin 53 – it has a great variety of well-illustrated articles ranging from what’s in our lawns to threats to coastal grasses.

Community outreach
•   The society’s display board was set up at Otari-Wilton’s Bush for several months.
•   Our field trips, which are open to the public, are advertised in the Wellington Glean Media Report.
•   Rodney Lewington and Peter Beveridge took Zealandia’s guides on a walk and talk about mosses and liverworts.

Bev Abbott, our Submissions Coordinator, made a number of submissions during the year with a professionalism that ensures they are noted.   Her main submission was to the Ministry for the Environment on the Proposed National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity.   Her 12-page report covered our thinking on the objectives and policies of the government’s document.   (See the May 2011 newsletter for details).

•   School of Biological Sciences Student Field Grants went to Hamish Carson, Guyo Gufu, Tom Hawkins, Susanne Krejcek, Maheshini Mawalagedera, and Bridget Read.
•   Jubilee Award 2010 went to Andrew Gregg and Stephanie Rowe for their work on the biography of Dr Leonard Cockayne.
•   NIWA Science Fair Botany Prizes went to Connor Hale for her work on “Beating the Bacteria”, and Joshua Dale for measuring the insulating properties of various native timbers.
•   H H Allan Mere Award.   The society supported the nomination of Wendy Nelson, a Wellington seaweed expert.
•   Arnold and Ruth Dench New Zealand Botanical Award.   This is a new award funded by Alison Dench from the estate of her parents, Arnold and Ruth.   It will be worth about $1,000 to the recipient and will administered by the society in consultation with Alison.   The first award will be made later this year.

The Committee
The committee was convened six times during the year from September 2010 to August 2011; each meeting was held in a member’s home.   All ten members of the committee have specific roles which were carried out with commitment.   Special thanks go to Barbara Clark, our secretary, and Frances Forsyth, for keeping us all up to date with correspondence, agendas, and minutes.   Thanks also to Rodney Lewington, our Treasurer, for “making every penny count”.

The fun part of being a member is attending talks given by our guest speakers, and going on field trips – these were meticulously organised by Sunita Singh and Chris Horne.   Richard Herbert did a great job bringing our new BotSoc web site on line.   Thanks to Eleanor Burton, Mick Parsons, and Carol West for their support during the year.

Bev Abbott was co-opted onto the committee as Submissions Coordinator.   Her contribution is covered elsewhere in this report.

Thanks and acknowledgements are due to many other people, including:
•   Jeremy Rolfe for formatting the newsletter and bulletin.
•   Leon Perrie for editorship of Bulletin No. 53.
•   Jill Goodwin for proof-reading Bulletin No. 53 and the occasional newsletter.
•   Barry Dent for preparing address labels for the newsletters and bulletin.
•   Julia White for dealing with enquiries received via the web site.
•   Barbara and Kevin Clark for the barbecue for the February committee meeting - it’s the one we most look forward too.
•   Victoria University of Wellington and Vice-Chancellor Pat Walsh for agreeing to our continued use of lecture room Murphy MYLT101 for our meetings.
•   Mick Parsons and Sheelagh Leary for a superbly run summer trip to Fiordland.
•   Darea Sherratt for raising money for the Jubilee Fund by selling the Otari-Wilton’s Bush greeting cards.

Chris Moore, President, Wellington Botanical Society

Accounts for the year ended 30 June 2011

The audited accounts for the financial year ended 30 June 2011 are included in this newsletter.

They show a small surplus on the normal operations of the Society and in the operation of most of the grant and award accounts.   In part this reflects the higher receipt of investment income compared with previous years.   This is due almost entirely to the fortuitous timing of the maturity of our time deposits.   We received $9,006 compared with the abnormally low $2,603 in the year ended June 2010.

As a consequence we have been able to maintain the level of grants and awards, as well as reinvest funds to compensate for inflation.   Invested funds have risen from $118,186 to $121,996.

Donations have also helped, with $1,957 donated to the Jubilee Award Fund during the year, in addition to the $704 proceeds of plant, book and card sales.   This generosity enhances the ability of the Society to encourage interest in the NZ native flora.

The transfer of $960 from the General Account to the Student Field Grant Account represents the rent of the lecture room we use for meetings.   As has been mentioned elsewhere, the University allows the Society to use the room for our monthly meetings free of charge.

At the end of the 2010-2011 financial year we held $6,200 in the current account.   Most of this was required to pay for Bulletin 53 which was issued in the new financial year.   As no bulletin came to charge during the year ended June 2011, a sum equal to approximately half the printing cost had been transferred to the Provision for Bulletin Account from the General Account.

Rodney Lewington, Treasurer

Wellington Botanical Society 2011 / 12 committee

At the 72nd Annual General Meeting, held on 15 August 2011, the following were elected:

President Chris Moore 479 3924
Vice-Presidents Mick Parsons 972 1148
                Carol West 387 3396
Secretary Barbara Clark 233 8202
Treasurer Rodney Lewington 970 3142
Auditor Peter Beveridge 237 8777
Committee Eleanor Burton 479 0497
                Frances Forsyth 384 8891
                Richard Herbert 232 6828
                Chris Horne 475 7025
                Sunita Singh 387 9955
Submissions co-ordinator Bev Abbott 475 8468
Bulletin Editor Leon Perrie 381 7261 (w)

Ian (Jock) Fleming

We report with sadness Jock’s death on 8 August, at the age of 88.   Jock had been a BotSoccer since 2001.   We offer our condolences to his family.

Rodney Lewington

Allan Mere awarded to Dr Wendy Nelson

Wellington Botanical Society is absolutely delighted that Wendy Nelson has been awarded the Allan Mere for 2011.   It was with great pleasure that the committee supported the nomination submitted by Peter de Lange and Clinton Duffy from Auckland.   Many individuals and BotSocs also supported the call for acknowledgement of Wendy’s leadership, expertise and willingness to share her knowledge about the huge diversity of marine algae, especially the beautiful and functionally important group of red seaweeds.   As well as being an internationally recognised seaweed taxonomist, Wendy is a strong advocate for marine conservation and a fantastic role model for women in science.   A fuller citation of Wendy’s accomplishments can be seen in the latest NZ Botanical Society newsletter.

Congratulations Wendy!   Wellington Botanical Society is proud of your achievements and pleased to honour you as one of our starring members.

Please come along to the last evening meeting of the year on Monday 21 November where Wendy will be awarded the Mere by Anthony Wright, President, NZ Botanical Society.

Carol West

Plant and animal pest information from DOC

Plant Me Instead – booklet series

Over the last few years, eight regional Plant Me Instead booklets have been produced under the interagency Weedbusters awareness programme.   Down-load them at – the Northland one will be loaded soon.

The two gaps in the regional series standing in the way of national coverage are now WELLINGTON* and Auckland, and the latter is going ahead soon.

Weedbusters’ Plant Me Instead booklets, provided free of charge to the public, are targeted at those still getting to grips with the idea that ornamental plants they may have in their garden are ‘jumping the garden fence’ and damaging natural areas, and that there is something they can do in their own gardens to stop this.   These gardeners are unlikely to seek this information for themselves, but if it is put in front of them, in an eye-catching format, they may take notice of it.

The content of each Plant Me Instead booklet covers those weed species causing the most concern in natural areas in that region, and chosen by those who work in the field – it doesn’t matter whether the species has a legal status for control or not.

The process for deciding on booklet size and print run, with all agencies that want to order copies putting money into one consolidated print budget, to get the best buying power, means that the per unit cost of print is minimised.   This allows the booklets to be given away rather than sold.

What I would like you to do

It’s simple… just e-mail to amthompson (at) a list of the weed species that cause you the most concern in the natural areas you are working in.   It would be great to get your feedback by 1 November.

Please call me if you would like to discuss this, and forward this e-mail to someone else at the weed-face!

* A lower North Island version of Plant Me Instead was published in 2005 and reprinted on several occasions by the DOC Wellington Conservancy in association with Weedbusters and councils.   This publication was substantially larger than the booklets in the current series and was available for sale through garden centres and the DOC Wellington Visitor Centre.   It is now out of print.

Weeds and pest animals on the web

All three Weed Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) in DOC’s Weed Quality Management system are on the internet.   These SOPs cover weed surveillance, planning weed work and reporting and reviewing weed programmes.   Access them through:

This best-practice technical information can be used by communities, iwi, non-governmental agencies, and partner organisations, to help projects manage weed work.

Animal Pest SOPs are also available at:

This work is part of DOC’s commitment to sharing its knowledge and information with others, and to enable more people to participate in conservation.

Ann Thompson, Senior Technical Support Officer – Threats, Department of Conservation – Te Papa Atawhai, DDI: +64 4 471 3079, Box 10 420, WN 6143, 18-32 Manners St, WN 6011,

Purchase of Te Oranga Whenua, QEII Covenant, Stokes Valley

We congratulate Hutt City Council (HCC) on purchasing this impressive 22-hectare property, significant because of its size and diversity of habitats, and the stature, ecological health and diversity of its indigenous vegetation.   Wellington Botanical Society botanised Te Oranga Whenua on 4 May 2002, since which time it is likely that the impressive number of species listed on that day would be even greater, given that the previous owners operated pest control there for over a decade.   For example, kiekie, Freycinetia banksii, is both flowering and fruiting in this forest, a rare phenomenon in the Wellington region, because it is so palatable to rats and possums.

In the centre of the catchment is an extensive wetland where kahikatea, totara, beech, pukatea and kamahi, tower over swamp maire, nikau, several tree fern species, and swamp gahnia.   Broadleaved tree species range from hinau and tawa to black maire and fuchsia.   The drier areas are dominated by kanuka and epacrids such as mingimingi.

During BotSoc’s visit in 2002, five podocarp species, forty-seven dicotyledonous tree and shrub species, three climbing ratas, thirty-nine fern species including eight filmy ferns, seven orchid species, eleven sedge species and nine rush species were listed.

Notable in the canopy was the audible presence of eleven indigenous bird species.   An historic feature of the property is a benched track, c. one hundred and sixty years old, winding gently around gullies and spurs, providing easy access.

Submissions on HCC’s intention to gazette the whole property as Scenic Reserve under the Reserves Act 1977, have now closed and the result will shortly be known.

Barbara Mitcalfe

World’s plant experts call for renewed plant conservation efforts

Over 2000 scientists from 73 nations attending the 18th International Botanical Congress in Melbourne, Australia, called on the governments of the world to act to halt further declines in the plant life of the planet.   The Congress acknowledged that:
•   As many as two-thirds of the world’s 350,000 plant species are in danger of extinction in nature during the course of the 21st century.
•   Human beings depend on plants for almost every aspect of life, and our expectations of using them to build more sustainable, healthier, and better lives in the future.
•   Plant diversity is increasingly threatened world-wide as a result of habitat loss, unsustainable exploitation of plant resources, pollution, climate change, the spread of invasive species and pathogens, and many other factors.
•   Renewed and intense efforts are urgently needed world-wide by governments, intergovernmental bodies, and scientific, environmental, and conservation organisations and institutions, if the loss of plant diversity is to be halted.

In adopting six resolutions, they asked for the incorporation and mainstreaming of the objectives of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) into all relevant plans, policies and programmes, including economic development policies, and programmes to achieve sustainable development and poverty alleviation, as well as into national biodiversity strategies and action plans.

They also challenged botanical, environmental and conservation organisations, such as the Network, to redouble their efforts to achieve the objectives of the Global Strategy by 2020.

Finally, they asked governments, inter-governmental agencies and donors to provide new resources to support plant conservation actions and to help build capacity for the management and conservation of plant resources world-wide.

Source: NZ Plant Conservation Network

Re-measuring the Hutt River Native Plant Riparian Trial Sites

To summarise: as early as the 1990s BotSoc had been been suggesting to Wellington Regional Council, now Greater Wellington Regional Council, GWRC, to use native plant species for riverbank protection, instead of the ubiquitous willows and poplars.   In 2001 Dr Ian Atkinson and I took up the cudgels to reactivate the campaign.   Eventually in November 2001 a panel of BotSoc representatives and the GWRC Flood Protection team met and agreed that “ Trials involving the use of native species in ‘front-line defence’ situations be established”.   By 2002 both parties had set up and agreed on protocols for the trials.   It should be noted that our intention was not to compare the performance of natives with willows or poplars, but to compare selected native species with other selected native species, in riparian protection.   The 5-year trials took place from 2003 - 2007.   GWRC paid for and planted the plants, all of which were PB 3-sized, and selected the three Hutt River sites.   At each site were five rows of fifty plants, in a one-metre grid pattern, for example, at site 1, opposite Maoribank:
Row 1,   50 x Phormium tenax
Row 2,   50 x Phormium cookianum
Row 3,   50 x Austroderia (= Cortaderia) fulvida
Row 4,   50 x Podocarpus totara
Row 5,   50 x Plagianthus regius.
Each Spring, we measured the plants’ height and crown diameters and these data were recorded by GWRC.   After each measuring, I wrote up the results in the BotSoc newsletter so I won’t repeat them here, and in 2007, at the end of the trials, Landcare Research analysed and reported on the data we had collected, declaring Plagianthus regius the best performer.   GWRC chose not to continue the trials, however following Landcare’s suggestion, they have now agreed to help with one more measuring, which will take place on Wednesday 5 October.   Meanwhile, several floods – some of them completely overtopping the sites – and rank growth of blackberry, broom and gorse, have contributed to the loss of significant numbers of the plants.   At the time of printing this newsletter, it is not known in what form our data from next Wednesday’s measuring will be used.   I’ll keep you posted.   Meanwhile, if anyone is interested in joining in the measuring, I’d be very happy to hear from you on 475 7149 or bmitcalfe (at)

Barbara Mitcalfe

Some Common Fungi at Mount Holdsworth, by Di Batchelor

As a mycologist I’m inclined to say that any new publication on fungi is a good publication.   Apart from Geoff Ridley’s updated guide, and the Fungi of New Zealand Flora, there is very little published material available in New Zealand, so it’s always nice to see new publications come out.

Di Batchelor’s booklet Some Common Fungi at Mt Holdsworth is a lovely little publication, just the right size to put in your backpack for your next trip to Mount Holdsworth.   Di published the booklet as a popular summary of her Master of Science thesis at Victoria University.

Di begins by introducing the kingdom fungi and summarises the major fungal lifestyles: mycorrhizal, saprophytic and parasitic.   She then describes the common genera of fungi under these lifestyles with a text description.   After the descriptions of genera, Di proceeds to species, with a text description and photograph for each species.

The main genera you might expect to find in old growth Nothofagus forest such as at Mount Holdsworth are included, e.g. Cortinarius, Russula, Entoloma and Lactarius.   I also appreciated seeing some rare species such as Russula miniata and Chalciporus auranticus, the updated names for Cortinarius peraurantiacus and Cortinarius porphyroideus, formerly our old friends Thaxterogaster aurantiacus and Thaxterogaster porphyreum.

Di finishes the booklet by giving good advice on collecting and eating fungi.   In short, get permission before you collect on DOC land, and always be sure of your identifications.   I don’t agree with her that the best fungi to eat are the ones you buy in supermarkets!

Finally, thanks to the Department of Conservation for supporting the publication of Di’s booklet.   Some Common Fungi at Mount Holdsworth can be downloaded from DOC’s website at:

Printed copies can be purchased for $7.50 from the DOC Wellington Visitor Centre, 18 Manners St, Wellington.Alison Stringer

Matiu matters

The planted trees continue to thrive on Matiu / Somes Island, the fulfilment of thirty years’ planting by Lower Hutt Forest and Bird.   In celebration, the branch has published A New Cloak for Matiu - He Korowai Hou mo Matiu – The restoration of an island ecology.   Written by Janet Hector, this 104-page, A5 book is profusely colour illustrated.   It covers the story of the planting programme, the introduction of birds, tuatara and other lizards, and other aspects of ecological restoration.

The book is available in some bookshops for $25.   BotSoccers can obtain it for $20, p&p included, from Theo Fink, 95 Tawhai St, Stokes Valley, Lower Hutt 5019, or theoanne (at)

DOC has taken over the planting programme, while Lower Hutt Branch maintains the nursery and assists DOC where required.

Stan Butcher

Appeal for donations from Koiata Botanical Trust

Wellington Botanical Society members will be as distressed as our Trustees are by the news of the lightning-induced fire which swept through approximately a quarter of Hinewai Reserve recently.   Coupled with the ongoing earthquakes, this is a very unsettled and stressful time for Hugh Wilson and his helpers at Hinewai.

The Koiata Botanical Trust was established in 1988 from generous, private donations.   Its objectives are to increase public awareness of New Zealand vegetation and flora; support one or more New Zealand botanists to undertake research; help with publication of the research and encourage interaction with the public through popular publications, lectures and field trips.   The current Trustees are: Ilse Breitwieser, Paul Broady, Rod Hay, Colin Webb and Anthony Wright, and the Trust Secretary is Michael Hooker from Hooker Associates, Chartered Accountants.

On behalf of the Trustees I am personally appealing to you for donations to the Trust Fund.   In recent years the income from the trust has supported botanical research and for over 20 years the Trust has supported Hugh himself with his research on the Banks Peninsula flora and the wonderful outreach that he does into the community – both general and botanical – from his base at Hinewai.

Our major thrust at the present is supporting Hugh towards publication of his latest book Plant Life on Banks Peninsula.

If you are able to assist, please forward donations to the Koiata Botanical Trust

c/o Hooker Associates Limited
PO Box 4415
(cheques payable to Koiata Botanical Trust)

Your support will be gratefully appreciated by the Trustees as we work to further botanical research and in particular at this time, Hugh’s work.

Dr Colin Webb, Chair

New protected areas

Wetland to be protected

Lake Papaitonga Scenic Reserve (135ha) in Horowhenua will be enhanced through DOC’s purchase of a 17-ha adjoining wetland, Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson announced recently.   Preston’s Wetland, within a block of land earmarked for rural subdivision, was once part of a natural water regime, whereby the bulk of the western catchment flowed through the wetland into Lake Papaitonga, a dune lake in the Horowhenua coastal plain that was purchased by the Crown more than a century ago.   Developing the wetland for farming over the past 20 years diverted water away from the lake, which became shallow and stagnant, and unappealing to the wetland birds that foraged there.

When Global Management and Investment Ltd purchased the adjacent block for a rural subdivision in 2007, DOC sought protective measures for Lake Papaitonga in the company’s resource consent application to subdivide the land.   The company, also keen to see the lake enhanced, offered to sell Preston’s Wetland to DOC, with agreement now reached to acquire the wetland as a scenic reserve.

“This is a significant conservation gain which will restore the values of the lake and allow opportunities for the community to get involved in its restoration,” Ms Wilkinson said.

Access to lake secured

Genesis Power Ltd and DOC have agreed on the creation of a public access and carpark easement from Te Wharau Rd to the upper part of Lake Kourarau, Te Wharau Rd, 15km south-east of Masterton.   This resulted from Government’s Lands of Potential Interest process, which enables by agreement significant conservation values to be protected before a property is sold into private ownership.   This lake, up to 6m deep, with extensive shallows at the south end, is used as part of an electricity generation system.   The lake was formed before the 1930s, when the earth dam across Kourarau Stream was built by the Wairarapa Electric Power Board.   Its catchment is in the Maungaraki Range.   The lake contains rainbow and brown trout, and provides important habitat for wetland bird species, both indigenous and exotic.

David Bishop, Conservation Support Officer (Statutory Land Management), Wellington Hawke’s Bay Conservancy, DOC, PO Box 5086, 181-189 Thorndon Quay, Wellington, DDI: 04-470-8428, extn: 8428, e-mail: dbishop (at)

Pohutukawa yields no honey

For the first time since he started bee-keeping in the Wellington region forty years ago, Frank Lindsay extracted no pohutukawa honey from his 400 Wellington hives last autumn.   Just as the buds were about to burst, Wellington had a very wet spell.   The flowers opened but produced no nectar.   Instead the trees put all their energy into new, leafy growth.   There may have been other, unobserved, consequences to this unusual gap in the food chain, as well as the effect on his honey production.   If you know of any, please contact me.

Julia Stace, bee-keeper, e-mail: jbwstace (at)

Plant of the month

March: Carol West, Macropiper excelsum, kawakawa
April: Rodney Lewington, Rhabdothamnus solandri, NZ gloxinia
May: Mick Parsons, Einadia trigonos
June: Chris Moore, Solanum aviculare, S. laciniatum, poroporo
July: Barbara Mitcalfe, Urticaceae, the nettle family
August: (A.G.M.)

The series will resume at our October meeting.   If you would like to make a presentation at one of our meetings, please contact me.

Carol West, carolwest (at)

Wellington Botanical Society NIWA Science Fair Prize

This year’s prize for the best exhibit involving New Zealand native plants at the NIWA Wellington Science and Tecnology Fair was earned by Charlotte Hann, a senior pupil at Wellington East Girls’ College.

Charlotte’s project compared the water and biomass loss of drying Coprosma repens leaves from varying habitats ranging from the exposed coast to sheltered bush.   She made meticulous measurements of weight and thickness over a period of several weeks as individual leaves dried out at ambient temperature.   This provided daily measures for fifteen leaves from each of six habitats.

The display included micro-photographs of leaf cross-sections to illustrate the thicker epidermis and cuticle of leaves from exposed areas.   Surprisingly the drying experiment showed no significant difference in the rate at which leaves from exposed and sheltered areas lost water.

Rodney Lewington and Mick Parsons

Illustrated guide to New Zealand sun orchids, Thelymitra (Orchidaceae) by Jeremy Rolfe and Peter de Lange

Sun orchids are widespread throughout New Zealand, growing in open sites from the coast to subalpine environments.

This new guide discusses the complexities of Thelymitra taxonomy in New Zealand, and has an illustrated key and photos to aid identification.

For the first time in one book, detailed descriptions are provided of the 15 sun orchid species accepted as native to New Zealand.   Interim descriptions of a further five awaiting formal description are also provided.A5 format, 64 pages, more than 120 colour photos.

Available now
1 copy:   $25
2 copies: $47
3 copies: $68 (prices include postage and GST)

Order on-line at (credit card payments).

or Jeremy Rolfe, 57 Thomas St, Stokes Valley, Lower Hutt 5019; e-mail jrrolfe (at) (cheque / direct credit payments).

or $20/copy: Wellington BotSoc meetings and DOC Wellington Visitor Centre, 18 Manners St, Wellington.

May 2011 News

From the President

Some changes don’t always come easily, especially when it comes to familiar routines – we become comfortable with the way things are.   So it is with our meeting accommodation in the Murphy MYLT101 Lecture Theatre at Victoria University.

The Wellington Botanical Society has had a 70-year association with the university – for 50 of those years we have been able to use their facilities for our meetings.   However, we may not be able to continue with this arrangement as the university wishes to charge us more for our accommodation than we are comfortable with.   The cost is an issue because we wish, as matter of priority, to continue providing grants to the university’s School of Biological Sciences botany students.

The society has written to the university asking them to re-consider their charges; at the time of writing we are awaiting a response.   In the meantime we are checking alternative accommodation options.

Chris Moore

BotSoc bulletins on line

Since February the NZ Plant Conservation Network have been working to add the remaining (most recent) PDFs of the Wellington BotSoc Bulletin and Auckland BotSoc Journal to the on-line resource (   The Wellington Bulletins are now on-line, and uploading of the Auckland Journals should be completed soon.

John Sawyer, Secretary, NZPCN,

Protect high-profile promontory

“Watts Peninsula – the promontory below Mt Crawford – is very much like Baring Head / Orua-pouanui.   OK, it might be 80%, but many of the values are the same, although the mix is different.   It has had a 600-year military history, spanning a very long Maori occupation, the Russian scare of the 1880s, and World War II, and many signs of all those periods remain.   It obviously has outstanding landscape and landform values, and also has significant recreational and ecological restoration potential, much like North Head in Sydney.

The major point of difference is that while Baring Head and its values will be protected and enhanced, thanks to a very vigorous campaign in 2010, and some far-sighted political decisions (now that’s an oxymoron), the NZ Defence Force are seeking to carve off what are essentially housing estates, and stick in roads and other infrastructure.   Unanimous expert opinion is that this would result in irretrievable loss of many of the site’s unique values.

Some of us object to this, and are lobbying the politicians to ensure that doesn’t happen.   If you want to know more, or to help, contact me on rydercj (at)   Don’t ring me – I’ll be too busy pestering people!

Colin Ryder

Wellington Natural Heritage Trust

The Wellington Natural Heritage Trust was incorporated as a Charitable Trust in 1999, following the purchase of Long Gully Bush Reserve, (which runs between Karori Sanctuary and South Karori Rd), by a group of prominent Wellington environmentalists, including BotSoc stalwarts, Barbara Mitcalfe and Maggy Wassilieff.

The Trust’s prime objectives are to:
a)   Identify any areas in the Wellington region that merit protection in their natural state
b)   Secure an appropriate level of protection for them
c)   Own, lease and/or administer them
d)   Restore or rehabilitate their ecological ecosystems and natural values
e)   Eradicate or control pests on them
f)   Permit appropriate access to, and public enjoyment of, them.

To date, the Trust has extended the original 50.5 ha area to about 103 ha under its ownership and/or management.   This is the largest block of privately-owned protected land in Wellington city.   The Trust’s land is covenanted with the QEII National Trust, and the area has been designated as a Key Native Ecosystem by Greater Wellington Regional Council.   Goat-proof fencing has been constructed around the property.   Recently, significant funding from the DOC- administered Biodiversity Condition Fund, and from Wellington City Council, has enabled the Trust to contract the Regional Council to undertake a comprehensive three- year predator and browser control programme.

In 2010, the Trust was instrumental in encouraging the Regional Council and other contributors to purchase Baring Head as an addition to East Harbour Regional Park.

WNHT is now working with partners (WCC, KWST / Zealandia, GWRC, DOC, F&B, WWF) to progress an integrated rural and urban community programme to control pests around Karori Sanctuary in an eff ort to raise awareness and appreciation of the natural values of Wellington City.   If successful, this could be used as a model for “backyard” ecological restoration programmes elsewhere.

If you are interested in supporting the Trust by making a donation, contact Colin Ryder (rydercj (at) or Tim Park (parkecology (at), or you can join our Facebook page at

Tim Park, email parkecology (at), phone 021 972759

Threatened Plants of New Zealand

Canterbury University Press

Contributing authors: Peter de Lange, Peter Heenan, David Norton, Jeremy Rolfe, John Sawyer

Threatened Plants of New Zealand
This book off ers an update of David Given’s 1981 Rare and Endangered Plants of New Zealand.   It fulfils its promise in so many ways.   Improved technology in illustration and publishing has enhanced the communication of information on our unique flora, and increased the opportunity for protecting it from predation, ignorance and loss of habitat.   It shows that botany is an open-ended science that will continue to extend and improve the knowledge of our plants.

Botanists have been helped by advanced technology adding to their dedication, enthusiasm and skill.   There is always hope that species believed to be extinct may be rediscovered, as was the takahe.

Thanks to all involved for the larger, clearer photos, and crisp, informative, text.   This will make a valued addition to any enthusiast’s bookshelf.

Wellington BotSoccers will be delighted to find that nearly thirty of the plants described occur within our area.

Olaf John

Karori Tunnel eastern portal planting

Karori Tunnel is a piece of Wellington’s industrial heritage, well over 100 years old.   Readers may remember that in 2002, some of us were involved in an indigenous planting above it.   Recently I was invited to join a site visit to discuss with WCC officers what is proposed for strengthening the tunnel and its precinct.   Robert Hon, WCC engineer, assured me that the planting will not be aff ected, except at the very outer edge where the portal will be strengthened and replaced.   The almost vertical slope on the TR approach to the tunnel is only metres from the Wellington Fault, and has had minor slips in the past year.   Concrete c. 300 mm thick, reinforced with rock anchors will be applied there, covering an area which has been weedy and unsightly for years.   The planted, eco-sourced trees and shrubs are now c. 3 m high and are getting much attention from birds.

Barbara Mitcalfe

Summer field trips

This summer our ten-day field trip will be based at a camp on Mt Taranaki, and botanising the mountain and elsewhere in the province.   To help you to suggest where we might go for future summer field trips, here is a list of areas we have botanised in recent years:

N = North Island, S = South Island
S 1985/86: Top Valley, Mt Richmond, Wakamarina, Onamalutu
S 1986/87: Seddonville, Glasgow Ra., Mt Rochfort, Oparara
S 1987/88: Hope Ra., Sunrise Pk., Matiri Ra., Lookout Ra.
S 1988/89: Hells Gate, St Arnaud Ra.; Lees Valley, Wairau Mountains
N 1989/90: North Auckland: Puketi; Ahipara; Cape Reinga; Surville Cliff s
S 1990/91: Upper Wairau Valley / Marlborough
S 1991/92: Central Otago – Kawarau River flats
S 1992/93: Mt Peel / Mt Somers / Mt Dobson – Peel Forest, Western Canterbury
S 1993/94: Craigieburn Ra., Arthur’s Pass, Torlesse Range – Castle Hill Station
S 1994/95: Cobb Valley
S 1995/96: Lewis Pass – Windy Point
N 1996/97: Waiouru / Volcanic Plateau / Tongariro NP – Tangiwai
N 1997/98: King Country / Waikato – Rangitoto Station
S 1998/99: Northwest Nelson – Geology House, Onekaka
S 1999/00: Seaward Kaikoura Range; Hanmer Forest – Mt Lyford
S 2000/01: Southland: Fiordland NP; Lake Manapouri – Borland Lodge
S 2001/02: Mt Cook NP; Lake Tekapo; Mt Cook NP - Lake Pukaki; Lake Ohau area
N 2002/03: Bay of Plenty: Kaimai Range – Te Puke; Whirinaki FP; Waimangu – Matata
S 2003/04: West Coast - Kokiri Lodge; Murchison - Mataki Lodge
S 2004/05: Mt Somers / Mt Peel / Mt Hutt – Staveley Camp
N 2005/06 Western Hawkes Bay, Ruahine Range – Camp Wakarara, Ongaonga
S 2006/07 Rakiura / Stewart Island – Halfmoon Bay
N Jan. 2008 Aotea / Great Barrier Island – Orama Christian Camp
S Jan. 2009 Westport – Karamea – motor camps
N Jan. 2010 Coromandel Peninsula – Kauaeranga Valley Education Centre
S 2010/11 Northern Fiordland – Boyd Creek Lodge

If you need more information about our past expeditions, the BotSoc newsletter December 1989 contains a list by AP (Tony) Druce of summer trips back to 1974-1975, Anniversary Weekend trips 1962-1989, and Easter trips 1956-1989.

Where else can we go?   Your ideas are most welcome – please send them to our secretary, Barbara Clark, Secretary, WBS, PO Box 10 412, Wellington 6143, phone 04 233 8202, fax 04 233 2222, e-mail bj_clark (at)

Matiu / Somes Island – restoration

Weed management

Peter Russell, Department of Conservation Revegetation Ranger, has had several contracts since 2008 for pest plant and other weed control on Wellington Harbour’s Matiu / Somes Island.   The contracts have been six-monthly, with six-month gaps in between.   He is targeting about 120 species of weeds, including a few that may not be particularly invasive – as a precaution.

Peter’s plan for weed control is two-pronged:

karo at Matiu
Karo that dominated the east coast of Matiu has been killed.   Photo: Peter Russell.
Clean-sweep.   This approach is akin to a grid-search, at 2-m intervals, killing all weeds he sees, with a few exceptions.   He began at the north end, then the central and eastern areas, all of which were less infested than other areas.   He is now working towards the west side, from the north and south ends.   He is helped by the Karobusters, a group of skilled volunteers, who run six working bees a year whose main target is karo, Pittosporum crassifolium, a dominant weed tree on the island, often on steep cliffs, in addition to Peter’s work on this weed.   Wisely, he does not kill weeds along a track, before the area it traverses is ‘clean-swept’, because that would give a false impression of progress.   His preferred weed killer is glyphosate, rather than picloram.   He obtained approval to kill karaka.

Rare weeds.   There are over 20 such species which are rare on the island, and which Peter believes can be eliminated.   They include Iris foetidissima / stinking iris, Berberis glaucocarpa / barberry, Calystegia silvatica / greater bindweed, Selaginella kraussiana / African club moss, Dipogon lignosus / mile-a-minute, Rubus fruticosus agg. / blackberry, Salpichroa origanifolia / lily of the valley vine.   Peter marks isolated populations of these plants with a post and tape, and records their location by GPS so that they can be relocated and checked in future.

blackberry at Matiu
Peter Russell records the location of blackberry on Matiu / Somes Island.   Photo: Dave Rodgers.
His objective is to systematically eradicate weeds on the island, with the temporary exception of pohutukawa and karaka, which he is removing from all areas, except for a ‘containment zone’ of large trees towards the north end.   An example of this task is evident above the road up from the jetty, where he has killed pohutukawa just outside the zone, up to where the road swings south.   This is to prevent significant populations of Leucopogon fraseri, manuka and Pimelea prostrata being suppressed.   Peter’s work removing pohutukawa has resulted in very few comments from the public who generally understand the need for the work, once he explains the reasons for it.   Where pohutukawa, karo, karaka, Pseudopanax hybrids, lacebark (Hoheria populnea) and karaka, have been drilled, poisoned, and left standing, light-loving trees nearby, such as kohekohe, rewarewa and pukatea, are thriving.

One of his first jobs, in 2008, was to destroy potted-up plants such as Hoheria populnea, karaka, Pseudpanax hybrids, and pohutukawa / northern rata hybrids in the nursery.   Nowadays, he has to control at least one weed, Cyperus eragrostis, that appears at the base of planted trees, because the seeds of these weeds were in soil in the nursery.

Weeds such as boxthorn, karo and pohutukawa are visible on very steep sites in several areas which have been swept clean of weeds.   Peter is trying to secure resources to enable these sites to be weeded, as well as surveyed for any other weeds which may occur on them, such as boneseed and holly-leaved senecio.


Until 1998, large areas were usually planted with hardy, fast-growing, pioneering species, e.g. ngaio, mahoe, taupata.   These areas require careful pruning to provide adequate light levels for future canopy species to thrive, e.g. kohekohe, tawa and podocarps.   To avoid the need to prune future plantings after more paddocks are planted, more emphasis will be placed on planting stands of manuka and kanuka.   This will also encourage a wider range of species to germinate and thrive.

In 2008, Peter was asked to plan for secondary plantings, i.e. for canopy, sub-canopy and ground-cover species to be planted under earlier plantings.   He recommended shade-loving species be planted in the dappled sunlight under those plantings, e.g. kohekohe, climbing rata, ramarama, Leucopogon fasciculatus, Coprosma rhamnoides, Echinopogon ovatus, Uncinia uncinata, Libertia grandifolia, Carex dissita, Asplenium oblongifolium, Pteris tremula.   This plan is being trialled at twenty-six sites on Matiu-Somes, two on Mokopuna Island, and two on Makaro / Ward Island.   The sites chosen had little or no veldt grass, were marked with orange flagging tape, and recorded by GPS.   This may be the first such trial in New Zealand, but Peter is keen to hear about any similar work with a view to developing best practice.

While traversing areas apparently not surveyed thoroughly by other botanists Peter found the previously unrecorded Astelia fragrans, which had managed to survive the era when goats were on the island.


Years ago, John Sawyer, Department of Conservation, asked that no plants be sent to the island from home nurseries, to eliminate that source of weeds.   Recently, however, weeds such as Darwin’s barberry and Himalayan honeysuckle arrived in planter bags containing native plants from commercial and council nurseries.   To reduce this problem, Peter avoids obtaining plants from some nurseries, and requires others to grow plants for the island in root-trainers, as they have a small surface area, and to raise plants in shade-houses rather than in the open.

Peter has initiated the drafting of protocols to minimise the biosecurity risks associated with nurseries, and the translocation of plants to islands.

Other points of interest

kohekohe at Matiu
Joakim Liman releases kohekohe.   Photo: Peter Russell.
Kermadec pohutukawa has almost been eliminated.   It was recently found wild in Oriental Bay.

Veldt grass colonises some sites under the canopy, where enough light is available.   Spraying trials are underway to see if natives can colonise areas previously dominated by this invasive grass.

Tree lucerne is not a concern because it encourages native plants, which then shade it out.

Taupata, cabbage tree and mahoe seedlings occur naturally, and wineberry, titoki and five-finger seedlings are becoming increasingly abundant.Hebe speciosa self-sows occasionally, but will probably be shaded out.   One patch of Sophora chathamica, probably introduced by Maori, grows on the east side, and Peter has grown seedlings to bolster that population.S. molloyi, obtained from the South Coast, is to be planted near the wharf where several large pohutukawa have been removed.S. microphylla and other kowhai species also occur on the island.

Dr Leon Perrie, Te Papa, has recorded six forms of kohuhu / Pittosporum tenuifolium on the island, some of which have gone wild.

The Tasmanian relative of ngaio is still present, and appears to be hybridisng with native ngaio.

Joakim Liman, a highly-skilled Swedish volunteer, is systematically ‘releasing’ rare, sun-loving native trees according to a strategy developed by Peter.   Unless these trees are rescued, most of them will be suppressed by the faster-growing pioneer plants that dominate the vegetation.   Some of the rare trees, which include kohekohe, rimu and totara, are also pruned carefully to encourage vertical growth.

Peter has noted that when boxthorn thickets are destroyed, karo often takes their place.   Karobusters then kill the karo, then taupata colonises the sites.

From a 6m circle around the base of a big karaka near the lighthouse, Peter and volunteers pulled 3000 seedlings and saplings in one day!

BotSoc thanks Peter for taking Chris Horne on a tour of the island, for providing the above information, and answering many questions.


Pseudopanax ferox

Wellington Botanical Society’s Jubilee Award to us was a significant contribution to our genetic study of Pseudopanax ferox, as noted in the acknowledgements in our paper, “Microsatellite DNA analyses of a highly disjunct New Zealand tree reveal strong differentiation and imply a formerly more continuous distribution” (Molecular Ecology 20(7): pp1389-1400, April 2011).

We also wrote a subsequent article (reproduced below) for NZ Plant Conservation Network’s Trilepidea ( that summarises our main study, and discusses its implications for conservation, both specifically for Pseudopanax ferox, and generally for plants in New Zealand.

Dr Leon Perrie and Dr Lara Shepherd

Conservation implications for the geographic distribution of genetic variation: lessons for and from fierce lancewood

Leon Perrie, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa ( and Lara Shepherd, Institute of Molecular BioSciences, Massey University


Many of New Zealand’s plants are threatened or have disjunct distributions; some are both threatened and disjunct.   We have recently published a paper on the geographic distribution of genetic variation in one such plant species: fierce lancewood, Pseudopanax ferox (Shepherd & Perrie 2011; available on request,   Here, we introduce that study and summarise its findings.   We then discuss general implications for conservation management in New Zealand, before returning to the specifics of the conservation of P. ferox (Fig. 1).

Pseudopanax_ferox Figure 1.   Pseudopanax ferox.   Clockwise from left: juvenile, Wanaka; apex of juvenile leaf, Waipori; adult leaves and flowers, Rimutaka; adult, Rimutaka.   As a juvenile, P. ferox is distinguished from P. crassifolius by the three-dimensionality (rather than size per se) of the teeth along the leaf margins.   This is especially evident at the apex, which appears to “bubble”.   The adult leaves of P. ferox are shorter, narrower, with nearly parallel-sides and a fairly blunt apex compared with P. crassifolius.   Photos © Leon Perrie, Te Papa.

Pseudopanax ferox naturally occurs from the northern North Island to the southern South Island, but it has a very disjunct distribution with large distances separating many populations (Fig. 2).   We were interested in the nature of these disjunctions.   For instance, are the very isolated populations (e.g., that in the central North Island, Fig. 2) the result of long-distance dispersal?   Is the population in the southern North Island simply an off shoot of northern South Island populations, or is it more related to other North Island populations? To address these questions, we examined the geographic distribution of genetic variation in P. ferox.   We used a DNA-fingerprinting method (“microsatellites”) to determine how the individuals and the populations they came from were related.   We found four principal genetic clusters in Pseudopanax ferox (Fig. 2).   Even within the clusters, populations were genetically different from one another.   The level of genetic differentiation was very high compared with other trees investigated around the world.   Rather than resulting from recent long-distance dispersal, the isolated populations are remnants from a time when P. ferox was more continuously distributed.   Since P. ferox occurs on free-draining and/or high fertility substrates, and in relatively high light, this greater continuity likely dates to when the climate was drier, soils fresher, and tall forest less widespread.   This was well before human settlement, although humans have undoubtedly had a devastating effect on populations in some areas (e.g., Northland, eastern South Island).   Our genetic data are also the first consistent with the survival during the Last Glacial Maxima of a lowland tree in the south-eastern South Island.   Th is corroborates palynology-based reconstructions that forests survived in the southern South Island during the last glacial, albeit probably only at small, sheltered sites.

Pseudopanax_ferox distribution Figure 2.   Distribution of Pseudopanax ferox.   Large circles are populations included in our analyses, with colour denoting the four principal genetic clusters.   The grey dots are unsampled populations represented by specimens in the AK, CHR, and WELT herbaria.   The gaps evident on the map are largely genuine absences, particularly so in the North Island.

General conservation implications

The genetic variation of Pseudopanax ferox – and consequently also its evolutionary legacy and potential – is partitioned across its range.   Because of the paucity of similar studies, the generality of this pattern in New Zealand remains to be established.   But we suspect that the geographic structuring of genetic variation in many species will be similarly strong.   Geographic genetic differentiation in New Zealand is likely to have been enhanced by the long-term persistence of populations throughout the country.   For example, though much contracted, forest is thought to have survived throughout even the South Island during glacial periods (Shepherd et al. 2007; McGlone et al. 2010).   Long existence, isolation, and low population sizes are all factors that contribute to geographic genetic differentiation.   Species that might, in contrast, be expected to show no/low geographic structuring of genetic variation include those with high dispersal rates (e.g., wetland plants; McGlone et al. 2001); however, geographic structuring of genetic variation is evident even in a fern (Shepherd et al. 2007) that is nevertheless well-capable of dispersal via its spores (Perrie et al. 2010).   The rate of dispersal is presumably critical: rare dispersal events can found new populations, but a great deal of dispersal is required to randomise the geographic distribution of genetic variation (one migrant per generation is an oft-quoted threshold).

Disjunct populations founded by (recent) dispersal will be a genetic subset of their source; conserving the latter should be the priority in an evolutionary context based on contemporary differentiation.   (Populations founded by dispersal should, however, not be completely neglected, since some will constitute the genesis of new species.) But, where there is geographic structuring of genetic variation, conservation efforts for a particular species should not be restricted only to core areas, or be allayed if it is secure in part of its distribution.   Rather, as many disjunct (sets of) populations as possible should be conserved, because each is likely to hold a unique subset of the species’ evolutionary legacy and potential.   Genetic analyses can provide a clear basis for prioritisation of populations, as described below for Pseudopanax ferox, but are far from practical for each species.   In lieu of species-specific data, a target of at least one sustainable population per Botanical Province (sensu Wardle 1991) in which the species is indigenous would provide some initial preservation of geographic genetic variation (with more populations per province for species occurring in only a few provinces).

The geographic genetic differentiation of populations reinforces the desirability of ecosourcing – using locally-sourced material in restoration efforts so as to preserve neutral and adaptive genetic patterns.   Similarly, populations should not be mixed as part of conservation efforts unless good reasons have been documented for the particular species in question (e.g., reproductive failure in small populations; Barnaud & Houliston 2010).   Finally, small populations, even when very isolated, should not be neglected a priori.   It is apparent from Pseudopanax ferox that even small populations can harbour appreciable genetic variation (e.g., Northland, Moawhango), which may literally seed local restoration efforts.

We have assumed here a goal of conserving the evolutionary legacies and potential of species.   But, why do so?   We believe that conserving infra-specific patterns and processes is a logical extension of the desirability, even need, for guardianship and stewardship of individual species that is now so widely accepted.   Protecting populations is necessarily subordinate to protecting species.   But, to be comprehensive, conservation management must include preserving (or restoring) patterns within species that, in many cases, have developed over millennia, and the processes that generated them (including those relating to genetic connectivity / differentiation).   Even if infra-specific conservation is accepted as an ultimate aim, it is admittedly a long-term prospect, with the present day requirements for many species and communities closer to triage than recovery.

Conserving as many wild populations as possible has long been regarded by many as desirable.   The chief benefit of this is not preservation of the species per se, which is probably most efficiently achieved in a botanical garden or in tissue culture, but of the species’ infra-specific patterns and the processes that generate them (which cannot be conserved in a freezer).   However, given resourcing limitations, the conservation of populations should be targeted to best preserve the surviving evolutionary legacy (and potential).   Many southern Pseudopanax ferox are protected and comparatively large; yet, some in the north have higher evolutionary priority.

Conserving Pseudopanax ferox

For Pseudopanax ferox, conserving representatives from each of the four principal genetic clusters identified by our analyses provides a clear basis for prioritisation (Fig. 2).   In this context, the Rimutaka population in the southern North Island, comprising a mere c. 200 individuals on one hillside, deserves most attention.   With regard to the distinctiveness of its genetic legacy, this hillside is equivalent to all of the individuals from any of the other three principal clusters (with one of these encompassing the entire eastern and southern South Island).   The Rimutaka population itself is reserved, on Department of Conservation land, and robust with healthy regeneration.   However, the risk of losing this distinctive genetic subset could be mitigated by establishing auxiliary populations on nearby reserved land.

Conservation of the genetic cluster in the northern North Island could be centred on the larger and reserved Auckland population (i.e., Woodhill).   Conserving this cluster’s Northland and Moawhango (central North Island) populations would also be desirable, partly as auxiliaries.   However, although we did not test it directly because of their small sizes, it is very likely that the Northland and Moawhango populations are genetically differentiated from Auckland.   The Moawhango population (three individuals) is not reserved and only one of the four individuals known from Northland is within reserved land.   Supplemental planting on reserved land is needed to ensure long-term persistence of the Northland and Moawhango populations; seedlings are already being propagated for the latter (Viv McGlynn, pers. com.).   Searches for as yet unrecorded individuals / sub-populations are also highly desirable.

The genetic cluster in the eastern and southern South Island is the most secure, with the most individuals and populations and with many reserved.   The status of the genetic cluster in the northern South Island is less clear.   Though encompassing several populations, many are on private land and no definite constituents are large (Conway 2006).   Thus of interest is a sizeable population lying between the established boundaries of the northern South Island cluster and the eastern and southern South Island cluster (Jones 2001).   Its affinities are unknown but, if they were to the northern South Island cluster, it would be a considerable boon to the conservation of this cluster in significantly increasing the number of individuals ascribed to it.   The private landowners of this population presently block access to it by anyone associated with a public agency.


We are grateful to many for help with sampling and/or information about Pseudopanax ferox, as detailed in the acknowledgements of our Molecular Ecology paper.


Barnaud, A.; Houliston, G.J. 2010: Population genetics of the threatened tree daisy Olearia gardneri (Asteraceae), conservation of a critically endangered species.   Conservation Genetics 11: 1515#8211;1522.

Conway, M.J. (2006) The fierce lancewood – Pseudopanax ferox.   Trilepidea. Newsletter of the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network 34: 4.

Jones, C. 2001: Nelson Botanical Society Easter Camp Report.   New Zealand Botanical Society Newsletter 64: 11.

McGlone, M.S.; Duncan, R.P.; Heenan, P.B. 2001: Endemism, species selection and the origin and distribution of the vascular plant flora of New Zealand.   Journal of Biogeography 28: 199#8211;216.

McGlone, M.S.; Newnham, R.M.; Moar, N.T. 2010: The vegetation of cover of New Zealand during the Last Glacial maximum: do pollen records under-represent woody vegetation?   Terra Australis 32: 49–68.

Perrie, L.R.; Ohlsen, D.J.; Shepherd, L.D.; Garrett, M.; Brownsey, P.J.; Bayly, M.J. 2010: Tasmanian and Victorian populations of the fern Asplenium hookerianum result from independent dispersals from New Zealand.   Australian Systematic Botany 23: 387–392.

Shepherd, L.D.; Perrie, L.R. 2011: Microsatellite DNA analyses of a highly disjunct New Zealand tree reveal strong differentiation and imply a formerly more continuous distribution.   Molecular Ecology,

Shepherd, .LD.; Perrie, L.R.; Brownsey, P.J. 2007: Fire and ice: volcanic and glacial impacts on the phylogeography of the New Zealand forest fern Asplenium hookerianum.   Molecular Ecology 16: 4536–4549.

Wardle, P. (1991) Vegetation of New Zealand.   Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Otari-Wilton’s Bush news

Autumn has bought us up to planting time at Otari.   Our burgeoning nursery will be able to exhale soon as we begin planting up areas that have been cleared of older plants during late summer.   Many of the seeds and cuttings we have collected over the last three years are ready to be planted.   The Hebe species border was planted this week.

Our new threatened species garden, adjacent to our nursery, is due to be planted over the next few weeks.   Previously this garden ran along our boundary with Otari School.   We had resolved to move the garden three years ago when we completed a review of our collections, and decided it was much too out of the way for a collection of plants with an important conservation message.   With the new garden will come three new signs with conservation messages for our visitors to read.   Seven other collections will also receive new signs.   This is a project we have been working on for about a year, in conjunction with Katrina MacLennan, a Museums Studies student from Victoria University, who designed these fantastic new signs for us.   They are a big step forward in making our collections more coherent to our visitors.

Those of you who venture up to the Skyline Walkway through Otari will be pleased to see new flights of steps where the top of the Blue Trail meets the entrance to the Skyline Track.   No more slipping over after wet weather now!

We have been collecting a bit of seed from the forest at Otari, some of which will be passed on to those growing revegetation areas around the city.   We are particularly interested in sourcing seed from those species that are sparse in the forest here, and managed to collect some Raukaua edgerleyi recently from two large individuals which were a great find.   Several years ago we collected some R. edgerleyi seed and the resulting plants have now been planted on forest margins around the collections.

Ka kite.

Rewi Elliot, phone 475 3245

Percy Scenic Reserve

New development

Most of the new entrance plants have thrived and are bulking up, except for Metrosideros carminea which seems to be very slow growing.   The site may not be the best, and was hit by a three-day frost last July.   Meanwhile NZ passion flower, Passiflora tetrandra, is motoring away and has nearly cleared the concrete wall behind the 5-metre rustic fence.   Some of the wheki, Dicksonia squarrosa, have succumbed to the conditions – wind and exposure – but we are ever hopeful of new fronds appearing this spring.   The final stage of planting in the new car park area will be completed this winter.   Notice boards and maps have been erected by the entrance seating, and some smaller track signs have been installed.   Access to the reserve’s car park is off the bottom of Dowse Drive, Maungaraki, Lower Hutt.   No. 150 Kelson buses, from Petone Station, stop at the entrance Mon-Sun.   The southern entrance to the reserve is a ten-minute walk from Petone Station, via the pedestrian overbridge, and footpath alongside SH2.

Plant collection news

Plant swaps with Otari-Wilton’s Bush have increased the plant collection, and many plants will be planted out this winter in the Druce Memorial Alpine Rockery and reserve gardens.

Thirty Charleston gentians, Gentianella scopulorum, were sent to Westport in April.   This species is classified as Nationally Critical, and Percy SR has been growing these every year with moderate success.   The batch that went to Westport in April was from cultivated, second-generation stock plants that took 18 months to germinate.   Seed received from the Charleston wild plants was sown in August 2009 and took 14 months to germinate.   Another 25-30 from this first generation will be sent to Julie Geritzlehner, Westport DOC, for a mid-winter planting.   Trials are about to begin to break the dormancy of the seed from second-generation stock.

Brachyglottis turneri, a small herbaceous perennial from the upper Whanganui River area, supplied by Wanganui DOC, will be trialled in a damp area, near the boardwalk by the southern lawn escarpment.

Another Wanganui plant, Sebaea ovata, an annual herb of back dunes, is under greater threat.   Percy SR has been growing this since at least 2002 for replanting into the wild.   Trials at Kaipara Harbour and Farewell Spit have failed, as far as I am aware.   Jim Campbell, Biodiversity Ranger, Wanganui DOC, has surveyed Whitiau Scientific Reserve where the original plants were located, and saw only one plant with a single flower head – they are normally multi-headed.   So recruitment is very minimal.   As far as Jim is concerned, Percy SR is the only place in NZ with the species.   NO PRESSURE!!   About 30 small seedlings will be sent to Wanganui for a late winter / early spring planting.   Plants will also be trialled in the reserve gardens.

Bird news

Kakariki were heard by an assistant gardener last October, on the Rata Track above the Duck Pond.   Kotare / kingfisher were seen and heard during the mating season over Spring and early Summer.

Jill Broome, Plant Collections Supervisor, Percy Scenic Reserve

2010 Jubilee Award

We congratulate Andrew Gregg and Stephanie Rowe, recipients of BotSoc’s 2010 Jubilee Award.   It will provide support whilst they take leave from work to do research for a biography they are writing on “A Life of Leonard Cockayne”.

Rodney Lewington, Treasurer

A New Cloak for Matiu: The Restoration of an Island Ecology

This book published by Lower Hutt Branch, Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of NZ Inc, records a pioneer revegetation project on a very visible island in Wellington Harbour, enabling others to learn from the work.

A New Cloak for Matiu
The book marks thirty years’ restoration on Matiu / Somes.   It captures the memories of people involved at the start of the project, and those of the many individuals who have contributed so enthusiastically over the years.

With 110,000 native plants planted, and the eradication of pests, the established forest has become the habitat for many species of native fauna not seen on the island for a long time, e.g. tuatara, kakariki, North Island robin, Cook Strait giant weta, Wellington tree weta, skinks and geckos.   It is a place where the public can see them in the wild.

How all this came about is a story worth telling: one that demonstrates the value of ecological restoration, and of volunteer commitment.   Purchase the A5-sized book by cheque for $25.00 from Lower Hutt Forest & Bird, Box 31-194, Lower Hutt 5040, or by credit card from Forest & Bird’s web site:, or e-mail your order to lowerhutt.branch (at), paying by direct credit to the Lower Hutt Forest & Bird account at ANZ Bank 010607-0010643-02.   Please include your name in the banking details.   Note: Your order will dispatched upon receipt of payment.   The book is also available in some local bookshops.

John Groombridgefor Lower Hutt Forest & Bird

Jeanette Margaret Putnam

Jeanette died on Saturday 1 May.   With her husband, Penry, she joined BotSoc in 1998.   Living in Waikanae, they did not come to evening meetings, but did come on local field trips.   We offer our sympathy to Penry and the family.

Rodney Lewington

Porirua Harbour documentaries

The third episode in a series of twelve short documentaries about Porirua Harbour is available at   The organisation would welcome your comments: livingwatersdoco (at)

Pauatahanui Inlet Community Trust (PICT)

Dr Brian Molloy honoured

The Council of the Royal Society of NZ has elected a strong advocate of native plant conservation, botanist Dr Brian Molloy ONZM, as a Companion of the Royal Society.

The President of the Royal Society of NZ, Dr Garth Carnaby, said the election of Brian Molloy was formal acknowledgement of the outstanding service he had given to botany and ecology in NZ and his willingness to share his knowledge.

“Brian is held in high esteem both in NZ and internationally for his contributions to understanding our native plants and their conservation.   He has shared his knowledge and expertise with many people, actively engaging in a number of botanical societies over a very long time.   Brian has a particularly high reputation in the farming community for his work with landowners to better manage vegetation of national significance.   His career exemplifies true public service”.

Dr Molloy has served on the Riccarton Bush Trust for the past 36 years.   He was a director of the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust from 1989-1998 and is currently a South Island field representative of the Trust.   Dr Molloy began his career as a research scientist in agriculture, later specialising in the conservation and ecology of native plants.   Although retired, he continues to work as a botanical and conservation consultant and as a research associate with Landcare Research.   In recognition of his stature, he has had two native plants named after him, the Cook Strait kowhai (Sophora molloyi in 2001) and the leafless orchid (Molloybas cryptanthus in 2002).

Rodney Lewington

Quintessentially Kiwisurvey from DOC

I would like to bring to your attention the promotion running on the front page of DOC’s web site which links in with Conservation Management Strategies (CMS).   As part of the CMS engagement work, we are asking people to tell us what species and landscapes define who they are as Kiwis.   It is a simple survey form to fill in.   There is a Fact Sheet in the attached link that explains this is more detail.
We will soon be sending out some updates on progress with CMS work – particularly about local engagement opportunities.   If you would like to know more, please ring or e-mail me.

Marie Long, Senior Planner, Planning Unit, Policy Group, DOC – Te Papa Atawhai, DDI: 04 471 3209; E-mail: mlong (at)

Southern Environmental Association (SEA) seeks donations

SEA’s Island Bay Natural Heritage Charitable Trust has purchased a bush-clad gully, off Derwent St, Island Bay, and are weeding it, and removing earthworks on the valley floor.   The property will provide access to the City-to-Sea Walkway.   The group welcomes donations towards the cost of buying and restoring the bush.

Donation form for Paekawakawa Reserve

To: Treasurer, Island Bay Natural Heritage Charitable Trust
C/- 36 Ribble St, Island Bay, Wellington 6023

I enclose (or have deposited into Westpac Account No.   030521-0311090-00) a donation of $ towards the Trust’s costs in establishing Paekawakawa Bush and Bird Reserve, Island Bay.

Environment website - Green TV

The Green TV web site,, is dedicated to environment videos.   To check it, watch this video:

Nigel Walker, Managing Director, Green TV South Pacific Pty Ltd., Suite 8, 137 Brisbane Rd, Box 1072, Mooloolaba, Queensland 4557, Australia.   E-mail: mike.lamond (at)

Unique covenanted property for sale

Tony and Helen Druce’s house at 123 Pinehaven Rd, Silverstream, will be ready for sale in June/July.   Covenanted native bush and gardens, stream, orchard and vegetable garden.   Two acres of land.   House renovated and redecorated.   Large patio, drive-on access.

Please contact Alison Druce, phone 389 4945.   021 205 2384, email alison.druce (at)

Friends of Baring Head

The group has been formed to ensure that the values of Baring Head are protected, maintained, enhanced and restored, so that our children, and our children’s children, can enjoy this special place.

Subscription: Individual (waged) $20; individual (unwaged) $10; organisation $50; family $30.

Friends of Baring Head Charitable Trust,
Box 38 076,
Te Puni Mail Centre,
Lower Hutt 5045.,
info (at)

“Streams Alive” programme

Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) provides funding for stream restoration on private properties.   Any areas outside the “high priority” catchments* are eligible for advice and support with planning, but not financial assistance.   There is no application process at present, and acceptance into the programme is through a site visit, and assessment of the site, and enthusiasm of the landowner.   The hot spots for Streams Alive planting at present are in the Mangaroa Valley and in Otaki.

(* Karori Stream, Wainuiomata River, Mangaroa Valley, Ration Creek, Waitohu Stream, Otaki River, Waiohine River, Upper Ruamahanga River, Waihora Stream, Glendhu Stream, Kaiwhata River).

Streams Alive has been running since 2004, with plantings being undertaken on over 100 properties.   In 2010, 12,741 plants were planted on 66 sites.   Landowners also contributed large amounts of time and money for fencing and riparian weed control.   The programme aims to encourage landowners to exclude livestock from our waterways, the riparian plantings help to shade the water, and thus regulate water temperatures, improving in-stream habitat for native fish and invertebrates.   Riparian plantings can also soak-up nutrient run-off, improve water quality, and contribute to the creation of native vegetation corridors through agricultural landscapes.

The Streams Alive programme is fully subscribed for the 2011 planting season.   Applications for 2012 will be taken from September 2011.

Because of the creation of Greater Wellington Regional Council’s (GWRC) new Biodiversity Department, and drafting of the Biodiversity Strategy, this programme, including the list of priority catchments, will be reviewed over the coming year.

For more information on Streams Alive, or for copies of GWRC publications on riparian and wetland restoration, fish-friendly culverts, and ecologically-sound pond-creation, contact Anna Burrows (Biodiversity Restoration Advisor - Riparian), GWRC Te Pane Matua Taiao, 1056 Fergusson Drive, Box 11646, Manners St, WN 6142. E-mail: anna.burrows (at), phone 04 830 4423 or 027 6120 790.

Kapiti Coast District Council

Forest and Bird Protection Society’s Kapiti-Mana Branch submission to the District Plan review process seeks to include an aim, and a provision, to link existing remnants of indigenous ecosystems, in order to create ecological corridors, whenever opportunities may present themselves.   The council’s interim progress report indicates that it will be at least a year before council starts to firm up on what will be included in the draft to be issued for consultation.

John McLachlan, for Kapiti-Mana Branch

Evening Meeting Report Members’ evening: 16 May 2011

We thank the following:
•   Tom Hawkins, School of Biological Sciences, VUW, for describing research on the cellular mechanism behind cnidarin-dinoflagellate symbiosis between sea anemones and corals.
•   Mick Parsons for talking about Einadia triandra, his ‘Plant of the Month’.
•   Richard Herbert, web master, for demonstrating our revitalised website.
•   Rodney Lewington, Darea Sherratt and Chris Moore, for choosing which donated books we should auction, to add to our Jubilee Award Fund, Chris Horne for running the auction, and the members who bought books.   We raised $380 for the fund!
•   Sunita Singh for showing slides of the remarkable Wilderness Scientific Reserve, east of Te Anau.
•   Barbara Mitcalfe for showing slides of plants on the Surville Cliffs and Baring Head, and close-ups of her Carmichaelia muritai in flower.

Chris Horne

December 2010 News

From the President

There are some 2,500 indigenous vascular plant species in this country, but more than ten times as many species of introduced plants.   Although most of the latter are confined to gardens and agriculture, it is hardly surprising that many have become “feral”, with hugely damaging consequences to our indigenous flora.   Indeed, there are now more introduced species of plants naturalised in the wild than there are endemic species.

On BotSoc’s recent excursion to Otaki Forks – see the trip report in this newsletter – I was reminded of these statistics by the incongruous sight of a mature cotoneaster growing amongst the indigenous plants in the car park near the caretaker’s house.   I was reminded that I, too, have a cotoneaster thriving on my property.   Conservation is for everyone, so I’m motivated to find a replacement for this weed!

We congratulate BotSoccers Robyn Smith, who received the NZ Plant Conservation Network (NZPCN) Individual Award at its conference in Christchurch in October, and Owen Spearpoint, who was appointed to the Council of the NZPCN.

Chris Moore

Conservation Action Plans and Conservation Management Strategies

Copies of the five-year Conservation Action Plan (CAPs) for each of the administrative areas in the Department of Conservation’s Wellington Hawke’s Bay Conservancy are now available as large PDFs on DOC’s website.   These plans are primarily internal documents which were developed by area staff to assist them prioritise and maximise conservation benefits from the available resources.   With DOC facing serious budget cuts over the next few years, the plans are described as ‘ambitious’, and the goals as ‘aspirational’.

There are two CAPs for the Kapiti Wellington area, following the merger of Poneke Area with Kapiti Area into a single administrative unit from 1 July 2010.

The CAPS also help fill the gap created by the delay in reviewing the Wellington Conservation Management Strategy 1996 to 2005 (CMS).   The Minister of Conservation first approved an extension for the CMS review to June 2008 and it was making good progress in 2008/09 – a copy of the Preliminary Non-statutory Draft of the Wellington CMS is available on DOC’s website.

Work on all CMS reviews was then temporarily halted in 2009 to allow a consistent approach to their style and content to be developed.   A resumption is scheduled to begin in early 2011 for the first CMS reviews.

The scope of the Wellington CMS review also changed when Wellington Conservancy merged with Hawke’s Bay Area in 2009, and more recently with Palmerston North Area (with reconfigured boundaries and a name change to Manawatu Rangitikei Area).

Bev Abbott, Submissions Co-ordinator

Recommended reforms to the management of New Zealand’s freshwater

The Land and Water Forum recently released its report called “A Fresh Start for Freshwater”.   The report includes 52 recommendations to Government on how the management of water should be improved.   The Forum was established in June 2009 in the belief that stakeholders needed to engage with each other if water management was to be less confrontational, more collaborative and more effective.   Fifty-eight organisations participate in the Forum, but a “Small Group” of 21 major stakeholders, assisted by six active observers from local and central Government, led the development of the report.

I did not find the words ‘freshwater ecosystems’ or ‘biodiversity’ in the written recommendations.   Nor did I hear any mention of the diversity of types of “freshwater” systems in the presentations at the recent public meeting in Wellington.   I remain hopeful that our interests as botanists in botanical and ecological values are incorporated by phrases such as “Regional councils must …taking into account the spatial variation in biophysical characteristics of [waterbodies at catchment level] and their current state, and by expressing objectives at a regional level as measurable environmental states, and linking these to standards and limits”.

Bev Abbott, Submissions Co-ordinator

Wellington BotSoc Bulletin articles now online

The journals and bulletins of Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury botanical societies have been digitised and made freely available online via the NZPCN web site.   You can search for plant lists and articles across all these bulletins, or in each.   This work was funded by the Terrestrial and Freshwater Biodiversity Information System (TFBIS) Programme.   The three BotSocs sent complete sets of their newsletters, journals and bulletins to Canterbury to be scanned.   Access at

Source: Auckland Botanical Society news-sheet November 2010.

Management planning for Baring Head

Greater Wellington Regional Council (GW) has initiated several lines of research into the values of, and opportunities at, Baring Head.   To date, most of the work has focused on tourism and recreation opportunities that GW has employed Tourism Resource Consultants to investigate.   A pest-plant survey has been contracted and will be finished by Christmas.   Additional vegetation surveys may also be required and this will be evaluated in 2011.   Cultural and heritage work is progressing more slowly.

It is expected that this research will be completed in February or March, and help to guide the management planning process.

Sharon ThurlowPlanner, Greater Wellington Regional Counci

Rata trees in Lower Hutt

BotSoccer Dave Holey is gradually compiling a list of northern and southern rata trees in suburban areas and on adjacent hillside areas in Lower Hutt.   When completed, this list will be posted on our web site, and made available to anyone interested, and organisations including Hutt City Council.   If you would like to help Dave with compiling this list, contact him at 566 3124, or daveholey (at)


Biodiversity Department

Greater Wellington has recently reviewed its biodiversity delivery structure and has brought together a range of staff from across the organisation to form a dedicated Biodiversity Department.   It brings together the biodiversity planning and implementation functions previously “dispersed” through the organisation in its Biosecurity, Land Management, Parks, Environmental Policy and Environmental Education departments.   The new department is headed by Tim Porteous and has a compliment of 22 staff.   An early task for the department is to prepare a biodiversity strategy to guide GW’s work and to review its existing programmes to ensure they align well with the strategy.

Once we have finalised the structure, we will provide a list of the staff and their specific roles, in the next BotSoc newsletter.

Tim Porteous, Manager, Biodiversity Greater Wellington Regional Council, 142 Wakefield St, PO Box 11 646, Manners St, Wellington 6142 T: 04 830 4174, M: 027 445 098,

Dr David Galloway FRSNZ honoured

We congratulate Dr David Galloway FRSNZ, winner of the 2010 Hutton Medal.   This is awarded annually for excellence in plant sciences by the Royal Society of NZ for outstanding work in chemical, physical or maths and information sciences by a researcher in NZ, in rotation among the disciplines.

The 2010 citation reads: Awarded to David John Galloway for his significant contribution to the understanding of the New Zealand environment through great advances in knowledge of New Zealand’s richly diverse lichen mycobiota.

David received BotSoc’s 2004 Jubilee Award of $2000 towards the publication of Flora of NZ Lichens, 2nd edition, 2007.

Rodney LewingtonTreasurer

Neil Bellingham’s award

Friends of Maara Roa stalwart, and BotSoccer, Neil Bellingham, has received the Community Leadership Award from the Minister of Conservation at Parliament.   Despite Neil’s overweening modesty, he did look really pleased at the occasion!   The four others who were with him – Juliet Bellingham, their young friend and protegee Serita, Andrew Jinks and I – were absolutely delighted with this result.

So thank you BotSoc for the help you gave me in compiling the nomination.   I was really keen that in this, our 10th anniversary year, Neil who has been such a treasure – we could not have achieved nearly so much without him, and the evidence is SO visible! – should be honoured by both Greater Wellington and DOC for the work he has done.   In particular his work for Guardians of Pauatahanui Inlet was very much part of the honour and was mentioned in the citation – as it should have been, too.

Sylvia Jenkin, Friends of Maara Roa

New home for Arnold Dench’s native plant garden

Otari Native Botanic Garden has gratefully received plants from Arnold Dench’s garden in Newlands, Wellington.   In early October, Otari staff were notified that Arnold’s will specified that plants in his garden were to be donated to Otari after his death.   Staff made several trips to collect plants, recovering many specimens that are not widely cultivated, including numerous orchids and alpine plants.   Many of the plants had been gifted to Arnold by renowned botanists from across New Zealand.   Several plants have also been transferred to Percy Scenic Reserve, Petone, Lower Hutt.

Flora Of New Zealand Volume V
Staff would like to thank the wider Dench family for their help and support with the transplanting of plants to Otari.

Rewi Elliot, Curator / Manager, Otari Native Botanic Garden and Wilton’s Bush Reserve, 160 Wilton Rd, Wilton, Wellington.

Second edition of Flora Of New Zealand Volume V – Grasses

There are 190 native species and 230 naturalised grasses in New Zealand, and this Flora is about them.   The Flora of New Zealand Volume V Grasses was first published in 2000 and it has been revised and updated in this new second edition.

NZ Indigenous Vascular Plant Checklist 2010

NZ Indigenous Vascular Plant Checklist
A new indigenous vascular plant checklist for the New Zealand Botanical Region is now available from the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network.   The revised checklist is a ‘must have’ for any person with an interest in the New Zealand flora or its biogeography.   Designed to be used as a quick off-the-shelf reference, the checklist has been prepared for the Network, in cooperation with the Department of Conservation, by Peter J. de Lange and Jeremy Rolfe, who have published several books dealing with the New Zealand indigenous flora, and who co-authored, with John Sawyer, the 2006 checklist.

Wellington Regional native plant guide

This revised edition, published by Greater Wellington Regional Council, replaces the first edition, published in 1999.

Wellington Regional native plant guide
The 2010 edition shows how to include local native plants in your garden, no matter where in the Wellington region it is.   The A5, 56-page, illustrated book is available in bookshops and garden centres.   RRP $9.95.

Solanum aviculare – poroporo

Fellow Wellington Botanical Society members, lend me your eyes!   Human-assisted selection can change the morphology of plants much more quickly than leaving evolution to natural selection – but how quickly can radical changes be achieved?   I am attempting to answer this question, at least in a small way, with the native shrub, Solanum aviculare.   Poroporo is a good candidate for plant breeding because it is fast-growing (some would say weedy!), and flowers within the first year from seed.   By selectively breeding from the largest fruit each year, I aim to double the size of the fruit in thirty generations.   But I need your help.   Please keep an eye out for large, established plants in the Wellington region with good-sized fruit – anything over 2.5cm in size would get me off to a fantastic start.   If you see ripe fruit of larger than normal dimensions, please pick them for me before the birds get them, and either post them to me, or I will be happy to collect them from you.   I have started a blog at, if you are interested in keeping up-to-date with the experiment!

Kathryn Hurrbryand, Email kath (at)

Can connectivity be restored across roads?

Can the European approach be applied in New Zealand and elsewhere?   This was the subject of a talk on 23 November at Victoria University by Associate Professor Darryl Jones, Deputy Director Environmental Futures Centre and Griffith School of Environment, Griffith University, Australia.   He said that road networks, and the traffic they carry, are among the most obtrusive forms of anthropogenic activity in the landscape, yet their impacts have been appreciated only recently.   Roads dissect the environment, causing fragmentation of habitats and isolation of populations, often leading to increased risk of extinction.   For many species, roads represent partial or complete barriers to movement, especially for terrestrial mammals and small birds.   Over the past few decades, attempts to reconnect populations across roads have led to a variety of specialised underpasses and overpasses being constructed, often with excellent results.   European countries are the leaders in this field, with hundreds of spectacular fauna ‘ecoducts’ and other structures built.   Why has the EU adopted these practices, what are they like and can other places – including New Zealand – earn anything useful from them?

Source: Royal Society of New Zealand

Environmental Protection Authority bill

The bill was introduced into the House on 17 November by the Minister for the Environment, Hon Dr Nick Smith.

By 1 July 2011, the current EPA will merge with the Environmental Risk Management Authority, ERMA, to become a standalone Crown entity.   By October 2011 it will also collect some functions from the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry of Economic Development, MED, in relation to administering the Emissions Trading Scheme.

At this point, as well as processing resource consent applications of national significance under the Resource Management Act 1991, the EPA will have responsibility for:
•   The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996
•   Climate Change Response Act 2002 – administration of the Emissions Trading Scheme

Next steps

The bill has had its first reading, and has been referred to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee.   Submissions close on 28 January.

During the transition to the new EPA, ERMA, the transitional EPA, the Ministry for Environment, and the NZ Emissions register, will continue to process applications and carry on their business as usual.

Ministry for the Environment - Manatu Mo Te Taiao, Website:, 23 Kate Sheppard Place, PO Box 10362 Wellington 6143

Lottery Environment and Heritage natural heritage policy review

The Lottery Environment and Heritage natural heritage policy has been reviewed, and has had some changes made.   Along with other groups, Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ Inc (ECO) contributed to the policy review, which has resulted in the following:
•   The focus in the policy on land-based projects, particularly wetland and forest restoration, has been removed in the new policy to reflect existing Committee practice.   The explanation of ecological restoration projects now includes a variety of habitats, including marine and freshwater.
•   Inconsistencies in documentation requirements have been clarified as follows: ecological restoration plans are required for all ecological restoration projects, project plans are required for all applications, and a feasibility study is needed for capital works projects of over $100,000.
•   Greater clarity has been provided with the inclusion of a definition of a “one-off project” and a more detailed explanation of when projects on privately-owned land can be considered.
•   has been updated: e.g. the term “weeds” has been replaced by “pest plants”, and “pest eradication” has been replaced with “pest and predator management”.
•   Education and awareness-raising have been listed as separate items considered for funding, to make it clear that both can be considered for funding.
•   The following items are now listed as being considered for funding, to provide clarity and reflect existing Committee practice: research and monitoring, helicopter drops, types of plans funded, project management salaries, education programmes, walkways, bridges, boardwalks, web site development and non-administrative volunteer costs.
•   New guidelines for ecological restoration plans and pest and predator management applications have been created, with the intention of providing greater clarity and to better inform the projects applied for.   The pest management guidelines now have greater focus on monitoring and targets.

More information at:

Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ (Inc),, Ph / Fax: 04 385 7545, e-mail: eco (at)

Editor: BotSoc is a member organisation of ECO.

Problems with ornamental cherry trees

Those who curse the countless numbers of seedlings and saplings of ornamental cherry trees which constantly infest indigenous ecosystems such as reserves, covenants and e.g., the native forest areas in the Botanic Garden, may have wondered, as I do, what is the source, and whether there is a remedy.   My enquiry to WCC revealed that Council’s roadside, ornamental cherry plantings are all sterile clones of Prunus serrulata ‘Tai haku’ , which should not produce fruit, thereby eliminating it from the enquiry.   On the subject of elimination, recently I have been noticing older, roadside, ornamental cherry trees which do produce fruit which are obviously eaten by birds, judging from the numerous proceeds (cherry stones) eliminated on the footpath.   The dark red, “miniature cherry” fruit are c. 11 mm x 10 mm, on peduncles c. 8 cm long, in clusters, and the stone is c. 7 mm x 5 mm.   So I think this is the answer, and regrettably I think I just have to live with it.   I’ve planted a stone to check my theory.

Barbara Mitcalfe

Northern rata in the city

My casual observations tell me that all is not well with the few, remaining northern rata Metrosideros robusta in the city.   For example, over several years, while occasionally driving past, I have noted the decline of one at the back of a private property in Washington Avenue, Brooklyn.   It is visible from the road at c. 50 metres distance, only because of its tall stature, possibly 12m, and its distinctive shape.   The canopy foliage density has decreased markedly in recent years, and further down-trunk, there appear to be many small clusters of epicormic leaves, almost certainly a stress response.

Another northern rata which I occasionally pass in Duthie St, Karori, has been exhibiting for c. 5 years the same symptoms as the Brooklyn one above.   This substantial tree, of (est.) 9m, height, is surrounded by a concrete driveway, cutting off virtually all of its water supply.   I estimate the remaining foliage at c. 20–30% of its former density, a sad sight.

A fine northern rata of c. 6m height, on road reserve immediately beside the Karori Road footpath, has been the picture of health until earlier this year, when I noticed die-back on the north side of its canopy.   This damaged area has now almost doubled to several square metres in extent, and is associated with power lines passing through the canopy at this point.   Fortunately, as Wellington City Council (WCC) arborist Julian Emeny reports, the damage has been noted and the tree is being kept under observation.   It is likely that it will have to be trimmed to a “V” shape to avoid further conflict with the power lines.

Barbara Mitcalfe

DOC’s Kapiti Wellington Area

On 1 July 2010, the former Kapiti Area and Poneke Area of DOC’s Wellington Hawke’s Bay Conservancy were amalgamated.   The table below shows the organisation of the new Area Office:

Of particular interest to BotSoccers are the following aspects of the work programmes run by the Area Office.

The Biodiversity Assets Programme works on protected species of flora and fauna, Resource Management Act matters, habitat protection / monitoring, whitebait, marine reserves, biodiversity signs, establishment of covenants, marine mammals, conservancy boat management, bio-assets budget.

The Biodiversity Threats Programme works on animal control and management, terrestrial and aquatic weeds, fire, island biosecurity, fencing, plant and animal pest signs, grazing and wild animal recovery concessions, pest fish and birds, logging, bio-threats budget.

The Visitor Assets Programme works on visitor facilities, such as tracks, huts and campsites, and interpretation development, impact monitoring, etc.

The Community Relations Programme works with community groups and volunteers, and on education, Marine Reserve Committee servicing, interpretation, etc.

The Service Programme works on CITES matters, sustainability, etc.

Source: Peter Simpson, Biodiversity Assets Programme Manager.

DOC’s Kapiti Wellington Area Offuce Structure
DOC’s Kapiti Wellington Area Offuce Structure.

Conservation Action Plans and Conservation Management Strategies

Copies of the five-year Conservation Action Plan (CAPs) for each of the administrative areas in the Department of Conservation’s Wellington Hawke’s Bay Conservancy are now available as large PDFs on DOC’s website.   These plans are primarily internal documents which were developed by area staff to assist them prioritise and maximise conservation benefits from the available resources.   With DOC facing serious budget cuts over the next few years, the plans are described as ‘ambitious’, and the goals as ‘aspirational’.

There are two CAPs for the Kapiti Wellington area, following the merger of Poneke Area with Kapiti Area into a single administrative unit from 1 July 2010.

The CAPS also help fill the gap created by the delay in reviewing the Wellington Conservation Management Strategy 1996 to 2005 (CMS).   The Minister of Conservation first approved an extension for the CMS review to June 2008 and it was making good progress in 2008/09 – a copy of the Preliminary Non-statutory Draft of the Wellington CMS is available on DOC’s website.

Work on all CMS reviews was then temporarily halted in 2009 to allow a consistent approach to their style and content to be developed.   A resumption is scheduled to begin in early 2011 for the first CMS reviews.

The scope of the Wellington CMS review also changed when Wellington Conservancy merged with Hawke’s Bay Area in 2009, and more recently with Palmerston North Area (with reconfigured boundaries and a name change to Manawatu Rangitikei Area).

Bev Abbott, Submissions Co-ordinator

Highlights from Greater Wellington’s (GW’s) Annual Report 2009/10

The following achievements reported in GW’s Annual Report are very encouraging:
•   The regional parks network will be expanded by the purchase of 284 ha at Baring Head (a joint initiative with DOC, Nature Heritage Fund, HCC and a private benefactor).
•   Seventeen new landowners joined the Wetlands Incentive Programme during the year, bringing the total number of landowners in the programme to 157.
•   Nineteen properties are now included in the Pauatahanui Inlet Action Plan; the landowners contribute financially and in kind.   Achievements included fencing (3.3 km) to help protect wetlands and the lower Kakaho and Horokiri streams.   Seven thousand indigenous plants were also planted in winter 2010.
•   GW support for six QEII National Trust Covenants will, when finalised, protect about 65 ha of lowland indigenous forest and wetland.   Pest control activities were also carried out on an additional seven registered covenants.
•   Staff developed a Freshwater Ecosystems Action Plan.
•   The public were consulted on a draft Parks Network Plan, and the Parks Network Strategy was approved.
•   Implementation of the Coastal Ecosystem Action Plan continued with the preparation of foredune restoration plans for five beaches and estuaries, and fencing of more dunes in collaboration with local councils and landowners.
•   Site-led plant pest control programmes were carried out at 55 Key Native Ecosystems (KNEs) and reserves.   Active pest animal control was carried out at 90 sites (19,624 ha) comprising 34 private sites and 56 reserves.
•   Post-operation monitoring of the Hutt River catchments after an aerial possum control operation did not detect any surviving possums in the treated area.
•   A framework for determining the survival rate of trees planted across the network has been drafted and will be trialled, finalised and carried out in 2011.
•   The Regional Policy Statement under the Resource Management Act was approved.
•   GW also took part in the Ministry of Society Development’s Community Max Scheme which aims to upskill young unemployed people.   This enabled GW to employ 15 extra staff who worked on more than 50 biodiversity enhancement projects at very little cost to GW.
•   GW also deserves credit for reporting in a way that shows the actual results and expenditure against the planned activities / targets and budgets.

Bev Abbott, Submissions Co-ordinator

Greater Wellington’s Biodiversity Department

Greater Wellington has recently reviewed its biodiversity delivery structure and has brought together a range of staff from across the organisation to form a dedicated Biodiversity Department.   It brings together the biodiversity planning and implementation functions previously “dispersed” through the organisation in its Biosecurity, Land Management, Parks, Environmental Policy and Environmental Education departments.   The new department is headed by Tim Porteous and has a compliment of 22 staff.   An early task for the department is to prepare a biodiversity strategy to guide GW’s work and to review its existing programmes to ensure they align well with the strategy.

Once we have finalised the structure, we will provide a list of the staff and their specific roles, in the next BotSoc newsletter.

Tim Porteous, Manager, Biodiversity, Greater Wellington Regional Council, 142 Wakefield St, PO Box 11 646, Manners St, Wellington 6142, T: 04 830 4174, M: 027 445 0983, email

What’s in the garden?

Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) is starting a educational programme to teach people about the dangers of passing on pest plants.

There are about 100 pest plants included in the National Pest Plant Accord – a booklet published by MAF Biosecurity – and while the staff at most garden shops know what you can sell, and what you can’t, some people such as market-goers, do not.

“People give them to each other, and you can’t really stop that”, says GWRC’s biosecurity officer, Ben Winder.   “People at markets won’t know they are banned plants – they just grab them from the garden, and sell them for a couple of dollars, which is fair enough – these are tough times”.

The plants, which include Darwin’s barberry on Wellington’s hills, and the yellow-flowered boneseed on the coast – are banned under the Biosecurity Act, and ‘repeat offenders’ can be fined, but Winder says that hasn’t happened to anyone yet, because we’re running an education campaign.

While 100 plant species are banned, 300 are pests, because they smother native plants.   “They’re not all banned.   They can’t ban the sale of all pest plants, though I’m sure that they would like to”.

Check which plants are banned at

Source: Capital Times, 13 October 2010.

New research: secondary chemistry expression in Senecio

Every species has a natural suite of enemies (predators, parasites, diseases) that has co-evolved with it in the context of its indigenous range.   Some species, upon being transported outside their indigenous range exhibit rapid spread and high densities and become regarded as invasive aliens.   The enemy release hypothesis (ERH) suggests that one of the reasons for the success of invasive alien species is their escape from their natural enemies upon their arrival in a new environment.   Indeed this has been demonstrated in a number of studies, but is by no means a universal explanation for those species apparently performing better in their adventive range compared to their indigenous range.

One of the ways in which plant species can defend themselves against herbivorous enemies is the production of secondary metabolic compounds which diminish the palatability of plant tissue (e.g., tannins, alkaloids, phyto-oestrogens).   This raises the potential for examining evidence for the ERH by measuring the expression of these compounds under various conditions – for example indigenous and adventives species within and without their native range.   We proposed to embark on such a study for New Zealand weeds using the genus Senecio as the subject.   A number of species of the genus have been shown to produce pyrrolizidine alkaloids known to be anti-herbivory compounds – perhaps the most studied being S. jacobaea (now Jacobaea vulgaris, but we’re not too fussy in this context).   However, this is not a trivial task, as the range of secondary compounds and their various chemotypes is enormous – the investigations into ragwort have a basis in decades of investigation of the chemistry.   Extending such investigations to other invasive species presents some challenges but new developments in chemical analytical technologies and new approaches to the analysis of complex chemical profiles offer powerful tools for untangling the web.

In the first instance, we propose to chemically screen different populations of a range of Senecio spp. to address the hypothesis “If the invasive nature of a naturalised population of a plant species is primarily due to its defensive chemistry, the range of chemotypes in the invasive zone should show uniformity compared to the diversity in its natural range where adapted specialist herbivores provide a countervailing selective pressure.   Conversely if the features favouring invasion are not primarily phytochemical, in principle the range of chemotypes in the invasive and natural range should not differ”.

To do this we have begun to compare the chemical profiles of different populations of a range of invasive Senecio spp. in New Zealand.   So far we have looked at S. angulatus, S. elegans, S. glastifolius, S. mikanioides (a.k.a. Delairea odorata, but remember we’re not fussy!) and S. skirrhodon.   Preliminary analysis of the chemotype profiles do indicate a degree of uniformity within species.   We would be pleased to hear from any Wellington BotSoc members who can help us locate populations of Senecio spp. that we could sample for our studies.

Mike Dodd and Geoff Lane, AgResearch Grasslands, Palmerston North

October 2010 News

From the President

As a recently retired electrical engineer, I am still somewhat stunned by being elected president of this august organisation – not in my wildest dreams did I see it coming!   Nevertheless I am delighted and honoured that you believe I have the qualities necessary to lead the society.   I’m looking forward to the challenges of the position and I hope to serve you to the best of my ability.

The past month has been traumatic for the people of Christchurch.   I can sympathise with their plight, because I was in Greymouth during the 7.1 magnitude Inangahua earthquake of 1968.   One of my most vivid memories of the time was looking down on the forest from a Defence Force Iroquois helicopter to see that the force of the quake had been sufficient to snap the trunks of trees a metre or so above ground level.   (Unfortunately Christchurch’s demolished heritage buildings will not grow back!).   On a happier note it was reported that although the staff’s nerves were shot as a result of the Christchurch earthquake, the Landcare Herbarium at Lincoln is just fine.

It was with sadness that we learnt, earlier this month, of the death of Arnold Dench.   He was a stalwart of the society and was best known to me for the fine specimens of native plants that, until recently, he brought for sale at our evening meetings, with the proceeds going to the Jubilee Award Fund.   As a relatively new member of the society, I never had the privilege of visiting his garden in Newlands, but from all accounts it was one of the largest private collections of native species in Wellington.   His knowledge of his plants, his ability to grow them from seed, and his willingness to share his expertise will be sorely missed.

Chris Moore

President’s report 71st annual general meeting 2010

Some highlights
•   Publication of Bulletin 52, the first with Leon Perrie as Editor.
•   A very successful summer field trip based in the Kauaeranga Valley, Coromandel.
•   A P Druce memorial lecture by Neill Simpson: Backcountry Botanists.
•   Launch, jointly with Otari-Wilton’s Bush Trust, of the Otari Path Names booklet and map published by Rodney Lewington.
•   Phil Garnock-Jones gifted a framed photo of Euphrasia cuneata to the Society.

Membership remains stable.   The Society had 287 members in August 2010.   The membership includes 129 ordinary members, 54 groups / family members, 54 country, 44 life and 6 student members.   During the year 12 new members joined.   We were very sad to lose long-term members Elsie Gibbons and Helen Druce.   Elsie died on 17 September 2009 and her obituary was published in Bulletin 52.   Helen died on 9 April 2010.   She was given a wonderful send-off by family and friends: Percy Reserve staff provided an impressive display of potted plants, collected by Helen and Tony from all over New Zealand, at the entrance to the chapel where Helen’s funeral was held.

Our regular trips continued to provide opportunities for members to visit new places and share or improve their plant identification skills.   Plant lists prepared on our trips are passed to DOC and made available to wider audiences through the NZ Plant Conservation Network web site.   Trip notes in the newsletter alert readers to significant finds and other trip highlights.

The summer trip to Coromandel Peninsula, as in previous years, had the greatest number of participants.   The trip was thoroughly enjoyed by all, despite occasional wet weather.   Mick Parsons, as trip leader, was helped by Graeme Jane who had organised a varied programme.   Sheelagh Leary organised excellent food, and everyone contributed to camp organisation.   From the comfort of the education centre in the Kauaeranga Valley we were able visit a wide variety of northern vegetation associations.   These included the beech forest on Mt Te Aroha, kauri at several sites, including the cathedral-like Waiau Kauri Grove, the peat dome at Kopuatai, and the seashore vegetation and birds at Miranda.

The numbers attending field trips has been steady at 10 to 20 people, although fewer were recorded for the Harvest Festival at Tapu Te Ranga Marae.   Those who did go were pleased to see how well the trees planted by BotSoccers many years ago had grown.   Particularly impressive is the puriri near the wharenui that was planted by Tony Druce.   It is now over 6m tall.   After a walk around the planted hillside we inspected Sister Loyola’s vegetable garden at the Home of Compassion and got a few ideas for improving our own vege plots.

Bad weather led to the cancellation of the August trip, and insufficient numbers were the reason for the April trip being cancelled.

Sunita Singh put together a wide-ranging programme of speakers: from physiology and epidemiology, to systematics and ecology.   The speakers were stimulating, informative and very well prepared.   The most talked about talk was Mark Jones’ description of fungi affecting birds and man.   I was sorry to miss it as I had a feeling that it would be very interesting.   Leon Perrie drew the biggest crowd for his talk on hybridisation in the genus Pseudopanax.

Members contributed slides, artworks, readings and commentaries on plants to the Members’ Evening in May.   In addition we had, for the first time, a book auction.   This was prompted by the gifting to the Society of books by Ted Williams who was downsizing his collection.   We are often given botanical books but have nowhere to keep them, so we usually offer them to Otari staff for their library.   On this occasion, though, Otari had no need of the books, so we were able to raise $492 for the Jubilee Award Fund.

Almost 50 people turned out for the AGM and to hear Neill Simpson give the A. P. Druce memorial lecture.   Neill took us back to 1966 with reminiscences and marvellous pictures from field trips he had been on with Helen and Tony Druce and the Wellington Botanical Society.

Editor Chris Horne continued his sterling job.   He compiled the content for three newsletters: September, December and April; and Jeremy Rolfe’s professional production added to their quality.   Members contributed items, particularly summaries of field trips.

Web site:
We advertised for a volunteer to redesign the web site and in January, Danny Kendrik, a Bachelor of Information Technology student, offered to help.   Danny has been working with Richard Herbert, our webmaster, and has come up with a very fresh-looking page layout.   We were advised during the year that Wellington Community Network would not be able to host our web site beyond the end of this year because of a withdrawal of Wellington City Council funding for community groups.   Richard has sourced a new web service provider at very reasonable cost and we will move to a new web address with the redesigned site later this year.   The “go-live” date will be advertised in the September newsletter.   Julia White continues to ensure that people contacting the Society via the web site receive answers to their diverse queries and requests.

Bulletin 52 was published in April, containing many excellent and interesting articles on a wide range of topics submitted by members.   This was the first issue with Leon Perrie as editor and it was the largest issue ever published, with some colour sections and a colour cover featuring a montage of plants from the Carillon at the National War Memorial prepared by Julia Stace Brooke-White.   As always, submissions are welcome.

Community outreach
Displays at several community events, e.g., Otari Open Day, Berhampore Nursery Open Day and Tapu Te Ranga Marae Harvest Festival, raised the Society’s profile, increased awareness of native plants, and attracted new members.   Mick Parsons and Sunita Singh are now doing a great job of keeping the display up to date and there are some superb pictures highlighting not only interesting plants but also BotSoc members out there in interesting places.   When not in use at events, the display is set up at Otari Information Centre and can be viewed there.

Brooklyn Garden Club requested a talk about the Botanical Society, so Bev Abbott gave them an excellent introduction to what we do, taking along a branch of Raukaua anomalus to pique their interest, and showing them photos of plants and members in action on field trips.

Bev Abbott has done a great job of preparing written and oral submissions on a range of national and regional issues and local places.   She has been ably supported by input from committee members who have reviewed and added to her considered and well-researched responses.   We’ve been told our submissions are influential in helping protect indigenous flora, and Bev frequently receives positive feedback from the agencies we submit to.

The main objective of the Society is to “To encourage the study of botany, the New Zealand flora in particular”.   One way this is to be done is to “To offer or award any prizes, medal or award for any original research, literary contribution, essays or efforts in furtherance of the objects of the Society”.

To this end the Society has, over the decades, built up funds from legacies, donations and surpluses.   In the current financial year awards totalling $4,800 have been made.

Jubilee Award
There were three well-deserving applications for the Society’s Jubilee Award for 2009, valued at $2,500.   The award was given to Brittany Cranston, of the Department of Botany, University of Otago, for a study of Community Dynamics of Alpine Cushion Plants.

The purpose of the Award is to assist applicants to increase knowledge of New Zealand’s indigenous flora.

Student Field Grants
$2,000 was awarded to post-graduate students studying at Victoria University of Wellington School of Biological Sciences to help with travel and other costs incurred in their research projects.   The recipients in December 2009 were:
•   Emilie-Fleur Dicks: $500 to help towards the cost of materials for work on coral-algal symbiosis.
•   Josef Beautrais: $500 to help towards the cost of fieldwork on Senecio glastifolius.
•   Lynaire Abbott; $500 to help towards the cost of fieldwork on the seaweed Lessonia variegata.
•   Maheshini Mawalagedera: $500 to help towards the travel and accommodation cost of work on the antioxidant activities of Sonchus oleraceus.

NIWA Science Fair Botany Prize
We donated a $150 prize for the best exhibit involving native flora.   In August 2009 this was shared between two year eight pupils from Maidstone Intermediate School.

Kyra Thomson was awarded $100 for her project examining the antifreeze properties of some native plants.   She first obtained distillates from the leaves of NZ flax, cabbage tree, manuka, hebe and lancewood, and then compared their behaviour on freezing.   Christopher Larson received $50 for his project comparing differing methods of preparing kowhai seeds for germination.

Tom Moss Student Award in Bryology
The Wellington Botanical Society administers this award for the John Child Bryology Workshop.   $200 was awarded to Betina Fleming, a student from Otago University.   Betina presented the results of a study of mosses growing on a single wall and offered reasons for the variation in the distribution of species.

In addition to the awards the Society provides, we also nominate or support nominations of botanists for other awards:

H.H. Allan Mere Award
The Society supported the nomination by the Botanical Society of Otago for Audrey Eagle.   We were delighted that this nomination was successful.

The BotSoc Taonga
The BotSoc Taonga. Photo: Sunita Singh.
The committee
The Committee held five meetings in 2009/10, appreciating the comfort of members’ homes as we tackled ambitious agendas.   I thank all members for their extensive contributions and support.   Each committee member takes responsibility for specific areas of work, some of which have been referred to above.   In particular, I’d like to thank Sunita Singh for the calibre of the programme of speakers and field trips that she puts together and, in support of her, the trip leaders for stepping forward and offering or agreeing to lead trips, as well as the speakers who enlighten us with their knowledge; Barbara Clark for keeping the committee on track with agendas, minutes and information, and Rodney Lewington for judicious management of the Society’s funds.   Fortunately most committee members are willing to stand again and I look forward to handing over the reins to the incoming President.   It’s been a pleasure to work with such a fine and enthusiastic bunch of people.

Taonga returned
The BotSoc Taonga handover
Outgoing President, Carol West, hands over the framed print to new President Chris Moore.   Photo: Sunita Singh.
Prof Phil Garnock-Jones gave a black-and-white framed photograph of Euphrasia cuneata to the Society.   The picture was taken by Tony Druce and had originally been given to Lucy Moore by BotSoc when she left for Lincoln.   Lucy passed the photo to Phil when she retired from Botany Division.   The committee is delighted to have the picture and has agreed that it will be held by each President for the term of their office.

Thanks and acknowledgements are due to many other people, including:
•   Jeremy Rolfe for formatting the Newsletter and Bulletin;
•   Arnold Dench and Bryan Halliday for plants and donating to the Jubilee Award Fund the proceeds from the sale of plants they have grown;
•   Barry Dent for preparing address labels for the newsletters and Bulletin;
•   Julia White for dealing with enquiries received via the web site;
•   Leon Perrie for editorship of Bulletin No. 52;
•   Kevin Gould for arranging access to VUW lecture theatre M101;
•   Prof. Phil Garnock-Jones for returning a taonga to us;
•   Kevin Clark for cooking up a feast on the barbecue for the February committee meeting (it’s the one we look forward to most).

Evening meetings
17/8/09 Neill Simpson Backcountry botanists 49
21/9/09 Leon Perrie Pseudopanax hybridisation 60
19/10/09 Tim Park GWRC biodiversity programme 38
16/11/09 VUW students Plantago / Hygrochasticity / Lessonia 27
15/2/10 Ken Ryan Ecophysiology of Antarctic algae 32
15/3/10 Robyn Smith Lord Howe Island 49
19/4/10 Carol West The greening of Tiritiri Matangi Is. 27
18/5/10 Members’ evening Presenters & book auction 24
21/6/10 Mark Jones Fungi infecting birds and man 34
19/7/10 Dave Kelly Mechanisms of mast seeding 34
Field trips
5/9/09 Rodney Lewington Otari / Wilton’s Bush 15
3/10/09 Chris Horne Pack Track, Wainuiomata 18
7/11/09 Brent Tandy Matiu / Somes Island 16
5/6–12/09 Tony Silbery Western Wairarapa 15
12/12/09 Dave Holey Rata walk, Hutt City 10
25/1–3/2/10 Mick Parsons Coromandel Peninsula 35
20/2/10 Bruce Stewart Taputeranga Marae Harvest Festival 6
6/3/10 Rae Collins & Barbara Clark Karehana Scenic Reserve 18
2/4-4/10 Chris Horne Northern Wairarapa cancelled
1/5/10 Barbara Mitcalfe & Chris Horne ‘Solomon Knob’ spur, Wainuiomata 12
5/6/10 Tim Park Brew Covenant, Plimmerton 15
3/7/10 Rodney Lewington Bryophytes, Otari-Wilton’s Bush 15
7/8/10 Mike Orchard Breaker Bay cancelled

2010/11 committee

President: Chris Moore 479 3924
Vice-Presidents: Mick Parsons 972 1148
                  Carol West 387 3396
Secretary: Barbara Clark 233 8202
Treasurer: Rodney Lewington 970 3142
Auditor: Peter Beveridge 237 8777
Committee: Eleanor Burton 479 0497
                  Frances Forsyth 384 8891
                  Richard Herbert 232 6828
                  Chris Horne 475 7025
Sunita Singh 387 9955
Submissions co-ordinator: Bev Abbott 475 8468
Bulletin Editor: Leon Perrie 381 7261 (w)

Finance Report for the year ended 30 June 2010

The audited accounts for the year 2009–10 year are included in this newsletter.

Interest receipts are down considerably compared with the previous year.   In part this reflects the lumpy pattern of receipts which are determined by the maturity date of the term deposit investments.   It has also been influenced by lower interest rates over the past year.   In the 2008–9 year we had a quarter of our investments earning 8%, while now all are between 5 and 5.25%.

During the year we have maintained the level of awards despite the lower investment income.   The consequence is that the cash and investments of the Society have increased by less than $100 (to $120,939) despite substantial donations.   The new committee may need to discuss the level of future awards if interest rates do not increase.

For the last two years bulletins have been paid for from funds set aside in the years when we did not publish.   The reserves in this account now stand at just over $1,700, whereas a bulletin costs about $4,000.   Hence, we will need to pay much of the cost for the next bulletin from the General Account.   There will be more interest income in 2010–11 but, if we are to balance the budget, the Society will need some additional income.   At the Annual General Meeting in August 2010 it was agreed that subscriptions should be increased by $5 for all membership classes other than for students.   The last increase in subscription was for the 2006–7 year.

Rodney Lewington

Wellington Botanical Society’s new web site

Further to the announcement in the April newsletter, please note that the new Wellington Botanical Society web site is now operational at:

So please bookmark this address.   The old address will have a note added to refer users to the new address for a period, and then be decommissioned.   Migration of the remaining older material to the new site will be completed shortly.

The committee hopes that you will find the new style more refreshing, modern and easier to read.   For those of you who desire larger font sizes to aid reading – in Outlook browsers select View > Text > Larger; in Firefox browsers, select View > Zoom > Zoom in (with Zoom text only checked).

As always, additional content material, articles of botanical interest, longer versions of trip and meeting reports, and additional photographs to illustrate trip and meeting reports and articles, are very welcome.

Richard Herbert, webmaster, Wellington Botanical Society,

Arnold William John Dench 1927–2010

Arnold died peacefully on 29 August.   Many BotSoccers attended his funeral, and Robyn Smith was among those who spoke in his memory.   An obituary for Arnold will appear in Bulletin no. 53.

People who read the funeral notice were invited to make a donation to Wellington BotSoc’s Jubilee Award Fund, instead of flowers.   We thank Arnold’s family for this generous invitation.

Rodney LewingtonTreasurer


1 Sep 2010

Arnold Dench
Arnold Dench died at his home in Newlands on Sunday.   He was a founder member of the NZ Plant Conservation Network and recipient of the 2008 Network award for plant conservation.   He was a long time member of the Wellington Botanical Society and a superb propagator of native plants.   He established and cared for one of the largest private ex-situ collections of native species at his garden in Wellington.

Arnold's funeral will take place at 2 p.m. on Thursday at the Guardian Funeral Home, 4 Moorefield Road, Johnsonville.

NZ Plant Conservation Network announcement on its web site:

Native trees protect Town Belt

Resource consent commissioners have declined an application to enlarge a sport pavilion on Wellington’s Town Belt.   Their decision stated that “it is highly likely that the removal of some trees will adversely affect the health of those trees to be retained”.   These include a (planted) black beech estimated to be no less than 80 years old, cabbage trees, mahoe, five-finger and kawakawa.   The applicant had proposed the removal of two pohutukawa, and a pine tree, but the commissioners concluded “that the adverse effects on the ecological and amenity values of indigenous vegetation will be more than minor”.   The adverse effects included excavation within the drip line of the black beech, and stress on it caused by increasing its exposure to the wind.

Wellington City Council, Service Request No. 208426
Editor.   We thank David Lee for providing this information.

NIWA Wellington Science and Technology Fair – August 2010 Student Prize

At this Science Fair for secondary school pupils, Wellington Botanical Society provided $150 as a prize for the best project involving native plants.   There were five projects that warranted serious consideration.   These exhibits demonstrated an appreciation of scientific method in setting out their aim and hypothesis, then designing and applying a method to test that hypothesis.   In judging, an allowance was made for the year level of the exhibitors.

The winner of $100 went to Connor Hale, a year 10 pupil at Tawa College, for her exhibit “Beating the Bacteria”.   Her project built on her previous year’s examination of the anti-bacterial properties of pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa).   This year she has tested several ways of preparing leaves to see what gives the best results against E. coli (Escherichia coli), Staphylococcus aureus, MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and Streptococcus.

Connor tested five preparations from pohutukawa leaves: crushed leaves, juice squeezed from the leaves, a decoction from boiling the leaves for 30 minutes in a pressure cooker, and a concentrate from this decoction, as well as a concentrate she had prepared a year earlier.

Her well-presented exhibit showed the concentrated decoction to be the most effective against these bacteria, including the MRSA.   The year-old preparation was effective.   Connor also tested the leaves and leaf juice on five people to demonstrate that the pohutukawa did not give any allergic reaction.

$50 went to Joshua Dale, a year 8 pupil at Northland School.   He had spent considerable time and effort in constructing identical boxes of rimu, matai, tawa and silver beech.   In these he placed cups of boiling water and measured the comparative heat insulation properties of the four timbers.   Tawa came out the best.

Rodney Lewington

Allan Mere Award

Ross Beever has been awarded the Allan Mere posthumously.   Jessica will receive the award on his behalf at an Auckland Botanical Society meeting.   Details are still to be arranged.   BotSoc supported this nomination.

Carol West, Vice President

Eric Godley

Eric Godley passed away peacefully on 27 June 2010.

Dr Eric J. Godley OBE, Hon. DSc (Cantuar), FRSNZ, AHRNZIH made a sustained and distinguished contribution to NZ botany.   After completing degrees at Auckland and Cambridge he spent most of his career as Director, Botany Division, DSIR.   Under his leadership, the Division greatly expanded its research and extension programmes, established a network of regional stations, and became NZ’s principal centre for research on native and naturalised plants.   Eric Godley had wide research interests.   In particular, he published extensively on the reproductive biology of the native flora, the biogeography of southern temperate floras, and botanical history.   Eric’s favourite plants were kowhai, a group of life-long interest to him.   He grew a species from seed collected at Ohingaiti in the 1960s, and it was subsequently described as Sophora godleyi.

Dr Ilse BreitwieserResearch Leader, Plant SystematicsDirector, Allan Herbarium, Landcare Research, PO Box 40, Lincoln 7640

Percy Scenic Reserve

New development
The new entrance is nearly complete.   Two covered pergolas, one with bench seating, and the other with picnic tables, give the reserve its first sheltered areas.   A massive block wall has been covered in stone and will have information panels installed later.   This could become the foundation for a future education facility.

A vehicle gate, which is locked / unlocked by security at dusk and dawn, has been installed at the entrance, off Dowse Drive.   A new steel fence and gates – with cut-out fern motifs – have been installed around the rockery and nursery area to differentiate the work and public areas.

Work is still to be completed inside the nursery site, including refurbishment of the alpine house and some planting and landscaping by the entrance.   Some remedial work is to be done on the existing new structures.

We have had several break-ins during the construction phase, and many plants stolen.   Most of these can be replaced, however there were several of a very large grade which were virtually priceless.

General news
The waterfall track has been upgraded by Valley Landscapes, and is now much safer but still quite rugged, in keeping with the conservation area of regenerating coastal broadleaf forest.

Seed of Olearia gardneri and Celmisia “Mangaweka” were received from Palmerston North DOC in early April.   They germinated in two weeks, with a fairly high germination rate.

Talisman Nurseries, Otaki, donated all the remaining cuttings and seed trays that Alistair Turnbull produced before he passed away.   There are many interesting alpine and lowland plants that will add to the collections already held at Percy SR.

Jill Broome, Plant Collections Supervisor, Percy Scenic Reserve

‘DEEP’ – A science symposium on the Kermadecs

This was held at Te Papa 30–31 August to highlight the 2010 – International Year of Biodiversity.   The event was organised and funded by Global Oceans Legacy (NZ), part of the Pew Foundation.

Twenty-three papers were presented and most of the people with knowledge of the biodiversity and geology of the Kermadecs were in that room.   It was appropriate to hold the symposium at Te Papa, and indeed many Te Papa staff attended, because this is the stronghold of the nation’s collections and scientific knowledge.

Raoul, the largest island in the Kermadec archipelago, is thought to be only 4000 years old.

Carol West described how the plants that have arrived there over the years have their main affinity with NZ.   Once there, they need to be able to recover from eruptions, landslides, cyclones and high-intensity rainfall, so that only those able to survive all that persist.

Dick Veitch described how land birds that have colonised NZ since records have been kept, have eventually turned up on Raoul.   This indicates that land birds have come from here.   One bone found of the extinct pigeon shows that it is the Northland species.

With fish it is the same story.   Larvae are now known to orient themselves and swim to desirable habitat when barely 1 cm long.   They can even go without food for some days.   Although the flora and fauna have many species in common with NZ, and to a lesser extent Norfolk Island, the range of biota in the Kermadecs is much smaller and very fragmented.

The huge colonies of seabirds have long gone from Raoul Island.   They were reduced over the last 200 years by the impacts of pests: kiore brought by Polynesian voyagers c. 1400 years ago; goats put ashore by whalers c.1800s; cats – to deal to the kiore – from the few settler families from 1830s onwards; and finally Norway rats from the shipwreck of 1921.

Pest animal and weed eradication, begun in the 1970s, has removed all those species, and seabirds are recolonising from the smaller off-shore islands in the group.   Seabird colonies and their associated effects are integral to the ecology of Raoul Island and the Kermadecs.

Threats to the region today are: volcanic eruptions, fishing exploitation, exotic weeds and vegetation changes, fire, plastic pollution, disease and pressure for tourists to visit.

With the advent of multibeam surveying, and submersibles from foreign research vessels, research in the last ten years shows that the Kermadec Arc consists of many more undersea volcanoes and craters than were previously known to exist on the edge of the tectonic plate.   These deep waters are one of the last frontiers of marine exploration.

We had all those experts sharing their specialised knowledge in ‘popular’ presentations.   This helped us all get a broad understanding of the unique biodiversity, geology and history of the region.

The Pew foundation sponsored a remarkable event that will influence research in the Kermadecs far into the future.

Julia Stace Brooke-White, jbwstace (at)

Manuka Reserve, Masterton

In an open letter to supporters of Manuka Reserve, and the citizens of Masterton, Liz Waddington reports:

Our community reserve was created with love and dedication by schools, groups, and a hardy bunch of individuals.   Now it has fallen upon destructive times.

Masterton District Council (MDC) plans to meet to discuss its “Plant Removal and Planting Strategy 2010–2011” for the reserve.   The document proposes a two-year, autumn / spring programme, to progressively remove plants, and replant each area of the reserve.

The submission process last year showed that most of the 99 submitters enjoy the reserve as it is.   Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) had funded planting and other work in the reserve ($25,000) as a Take Care project, and advised on planting and planning.   The project is now complete.

There appears to be indecent haste to rearrange the reserve to match MDC’s flawed management plan.   Trees in their place, and a place for every tree.   I don’t think the natural world works quite like this.

Under the proposed regime we will lose rata, pohutukawa, kauri, tree ferns, Clematis paniculata, rare coprosmas, and many other plants.   We are concerned about the fate of the threatened plants’ collection given to us by one of Wairarapa’s leading plant authorities.   MDC has not asked us to identify these plants.   The reserve was created as an educational arboretum, with specimens of as many native plants as possible.

This season, MDC has:
•   cut back plants alongside the paths in an insensitive manner;
•   removed trees and left the stumps protruding onto the path;
•   dug ditches and sumps alongside the tracks;
•   not moved the seat which it built halfway across a path.

MDC now plans to remove the “unhealthy, poorly formed trees”, which were insensitively cut back, and declare the reserve unsafe.

MDC’s reasons for removing the raupo from the pond are flawed because water gets away from the reserve perfectly well.   In fact, Wes ten Hove, (MDC CEO), told us it is important to hold the water back on the reserve so it can be absorbed into the water-table, and not be pushed into the storm-water system.   The raupo ecosystem supports insect life, eels and fish.

MDC appears to overlook the benefits the reserve provides:
•   the carbon sink for our town, which in winter often exceeds acceptable pollution levels;
•   the carbon credits that MDC may be able to claim;
•   the beauty enjoyed by walkers and cyclists;
•   the burgeoning birdlife and lizards population;
•   the opportunity to get away from asphalt and traffic.

Cost to Ratepayers
What is the cost to ratepayers to rearrange this 1.8-ha reserve?   Recently four well-grown kowhai, (from historic seed), host to tui and bellbirds, were dragged through the reserve to a supposedly better place.   These trees may die.

John Waddington and I are members of the Manuka Reserve Management Committee.   Agenda items arrive on the table which have not been discussed.   Letters we have sent to councillors and the mayor are not replied to.

We hear that there are people who complain about the reserve, but numbers or names are never mentioned.   Everyone we meet loves it!   This was a community project, but the community is now being excluded, despite the fact that a Civic Award for work in the environment was awarded for the creation of the reserve.

We note that more significant trees have been removed from Masterton in the last five years than the previous fifty.   Queen Elizabeth Park is a prime example of the vanishing trees.   We need to be planting potentially large trees in our parks and reserves, and looking after the old trees we already have.

We would welcome your support for this small patch of beautiful native trees and other plants.   As Kermit says; “It’s not that easy being green”.

Masterton District Council can be contacted at: mdc (at)

Liz Waddington

DOC protection projects completed

Johnny’s Bush Covenant – Registered 16.4.10 – Poneke Area
Owner :   MEL (West Wind) Ltd
Area :   6.2 ha adjacent Makara Rd, Makara, Wellington
Values :   mature forest remnant of semi-coastal podocarp-pukatea-kohekohe-tawa vegetation; plant list includes over 120 native species, ranging from canopy species such as kahikatea, pukatea, rimu and miro, through an understorey of kohekohe, kanuka, tree ferns, to forest-floor species including ferns and orchids.

Adlam Covenant – Rregistered 18.5.10 – Kapiti Area
Owner :   Kahikatea Developments Ltd (director: Peter Adlam)
Area :   10.2 ha adjacent Kaitawa Covenant, Mangaone South Rd, Kapiti
Values :   The canopy comprises kamahi-tawa forest on the western steeper slopes and ridges, with rewarewa and kamahi-tawa on lower slopes.   The covenant is an important lowland forest valuable as habitat for endemic and threatened fauna with bellbird, tui, and grey warbler.   Public access by prior request to owner.

Meehan Covenant – Registered 27.7.10 – Chatham Islands Area
Owner :   Bill and Di Gregory-Hunt
Area :   55 ha adjacent Flower Pot - Glory Rd, Pitt Island
Values :   Biodiversity Condition Fund project- comprises karamu-mixed broadleaf forest of the gully area (3 patches) containing also koromiko (Hebe barkeri), juvenile nikau (Rhopalostylis) and rautini (Brachyglottis huntii), rising to the ‘spurs’ at the southern extent where generally mixed broadleaf forest contains tarahinau (Dracophyllum arboreum), matipo (Myrsine chathamica), hoho (Pseudopanax chathamicus) and karamu (Coprosma chathamica).   Geoff Walls reports that the spurs contains the best rautini population on the Chathams, and the gully has the largest and only site of koromiko on Pitt Island.

David Bishop, Conservation Support Officer (Statutory Land Management), Wellington Hawke’s Bay Conservancy

Baring Head Farm

In June 2010, the Nature Heritage Fund, in partnership with Greater Wellington Regional Council, Hutt City Council, the Department of Conservation, and a private donor, purchased 284.6 ha of land on a prominent headland east of Wellington Harbour’s entrance, as an addition to East Harbour Regional Park.   This purchase secured a strategic coastal headland and associated areas containing significant biodiversity, landscape, geological and historic values.   The area will provide public access to East Harbour Regional Park from Wainuiomata Coast Road, and access to 4 km of the Wainuiomata River, for recreational use.   It will also secure a critical portion of the coastal route that is used by thousands of recreationists.

The property has five landscape sectors, each with its own values:
•   Coastal dune belt – important for birdlife, invertebrates, plant species and its geophysical dune formations.   It includes a range of migratory seabirds such as the nationally-endangered banded dotterel, rosette plants, raoulia-dominated cushion fields, and a large range of invertebrates.
•   Coastal scarp – vegetation from the scarp toe rising to the marine terraces has a range of species of plants including pingao, plus the chronically-threatened spotted skink.
•   Marine terrace – includes a range of plant species e.g: karaka, tauhinu, and Muehlenbeckia astonii.
•   Terrace drop over / scarp containing scrubland forest and grassland containing threatened plant and animal species, including the rare Muehlenbeckia astonii shrub and matagouri.   ‘Grey scrub’, as this plant community is known, is a rare plant community needing protection.
•   Wainuiomata River valley – includes wetland areas between the terrace drop over and the Wainuiomata River, which are important spawning areas for inanga.   The Wainuiomata River is a listed Water of National Importance containing several indigenous fish species and is also an important brown trout fishery.   It is visited by the acutely-threatened white heron and NZ falcon.

Source: Footnotes August 2010

Editor: BotSoc’s support for this purchase features in the “Submissions made” section earlier in this newsletter.

Druce Rockery

In response to a request from Hutt City Council and Alison Druce and Oliver Druce, Barbara Mitcalfe, Tony Silbery and Chris Horne have drafted the following text to be placed at the Druce Rockery in Percy Scenic Reserve, Lower Hutt:

The plants in this rock garden come from both lowland and high-country habitats throughout New Zealand.   They are here thanks to the generosity of Tony and Helen Druce, who for many years cultivated them at their Pinehaven property.   Tony Druce was one of New Zealand’s foremost botanists.   During the course of hundreds of field trips he gained unparalleled knowledge of the New Zealand flora, enabling him to recognise most species at a glance.   His extensive plant collection at Pinehaven functioned as a laboratory of living material for the study of plant characteristics.

The collection expanded into many hundreds of specimens and became an integral part of Tony’s reference material.   Tony and Helen were inspirational teachers in the field, with the ability to detect minute differences in plants that to most people looked identical.   The collection became a proving ground for taxonomic theories, including the discovery of new, previously-undescribed, plants.

When ill health began to impact on the time Tony could spend tending the potted specimens, Tony and Helen decided to donate the entire collection to Percy Scenic Reserve, aided by Collections Supervisor, Tony Silbery.   An existing rock garden and glasshouse were expanded and adapted to house it.

Teacher, Wilton Foundation

On behalf of myself and The Wilton Foundation Te Tiaki Taiao, I am delighted to welcome you all to our new web site!   On the site are all the resources I’ve made over the past year, very useful for teachers, parents and anyone interested in Environmental Education.   We will be posting updates and new resources periodically.   I am always keen to hear feedback, stories and suggestions on how to make resources more user-friendly, so please feel free to contact me.

On another note, we have good news and bad news – firstly, the sad – our year of funding through the Lotteries Commission has ended.   This enabled us to get a brilliant project functioning, so we thank them for their time - and money!   And for the good news, Otari-Wilton’s Bush Trust has made a contribution to help keep my position running while we seek further funding.   So it will be business almost as usual for the next few months, and though I will be working fewer hours, I will still be around.

Enjoy the website!

Tiff Stewart, Environmental Interpreter, The Wilton Foundation Te Tiaki Taiao, phone (04) 389 7371, 021 1410895.   Usual hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

Chatham Heritage and Restoration Trust (CHART)

The aim of the trust is “To protect and restore the natural and historic heritage of Chatham Islands”.

What is at stake?
Most of the endemic plants and birds of the Chatham Islands are on private land, and some do not occur within the 6500 ha of Crown-owned reserves.   Many landowners recognise the key role they can play in protecting the islands’ heritage.   Over 3000 ha of privately-owned land has been protected by fencing, often as part of covenanting agreements, but fencing out farm stock is just the start.   To ensure healthy plant communities requires control of feral stock, possums and weeds, and planting of species that were previously present.   Restoring Chatham Island birds can occur only if predators, including feral cats and rats are controlled or excluded.

Many Chatham Island plant and bird species have responded well to conservation management, but much more can be done to restore them to sites accessible to all.

Possible projects include:
•   Reforestation of kowhai forest at Blind Jims,
•   Pest control on private land,
•   Running a pest-control workshop for landowners and interested parties,
•   Investigating the feasibility of eradicating possums from the Chatham Islands, or part thereof.

Contact CHART at PO Box 17, Chatham Islands 8942., info (at)

Lois Croon 03 305 0492, Alfred Preece 03 305 0267, Peter Johnson 03 470 7206.
Subscriptions, $20 p.a., and donations, to the above address.

Source: Chatham Heritage and Restoration Trust brochure

Weedy Wellington workshop

“Tackling environmental weeds together”

The workshop on 24 September at Greater Wellington Regional Council was good value – lots of synergy and a good working tone.   Hilary Campbell facilitated, assisted by Christina Bellis and Rebeka Whale.   We chose to work almost all the time as a whole group, rather than in small groups.

A pressing priority is to collect weed data and compile weed maps and overlays.   Recent BotSoc plant lists, and various individuals’ lists, will be invaluable, if they list weeds as well as natives.   We have been including weeds in our lists for about the last 10 years.   Pedro Jensen (GWRC) says it’s easy to convert grid references taken from NZMS 260 maps, to the new NZTopo50 map series.

The workshop took us a big step nearer to defining our working niche, this to be on a catchment basis, and more specifically within this, those “gaps” between public and private sites, which no one at present is caring for.   Key Native Ecosystems, covenants, regional parks and their respective buffers, are already subject to weed strategies, so will not be our focus.   Eventually we decided that Wellington city’s Kaiwharawhara Stream catchment was our best choice to start developing our “model”.   It already has four care groups working in it, but it also has many “gaps”, e.g., the woefully weedy slope behind Karori Garden Centre, infested with old man’s beard, and the valley between Churchill Drive and the Johnsonville railway line.

This dedicated group is committed to working with formal and informal groups up and down the country, to share experiences in dealing with the enormous threats environmental weeds pose to our indigenous biodiversity.

Participants :   Mike Dodd (AgResearch), Peter Hunt (Forest & Bird), Pedro Jensen (GWRC), Justin McCarthy (WCC), Peter Russell (Weed management and restoration consultant), Bernard Smith (Zealandia / Karori Sanctuary), Brent Tandy (DOC / Poneke Area), Ann Thompson (DOC / HO), Mike Urlich (GWRC).   Sustainability Trust facilitators :   Hilary Campbell, Christina Bellis, Rebeka Whale.

Barbara Mitcalfe and Chris Horne (BotSoc representatives)

May 2010 News

From the President

A very successful trip to the southern Coromandel region was enjoyed by a number of members in January – read about it in this issue.   In recent years BotSoc has visited Great Barrier Island and Stewart Island.   All three areas are highlighted in the document released for public comment “Maximising our Mineral Potential: Stocktake of Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act and beyond” which BotSoc will be submitting on.   Bev Abbott, our Submissions Co-ordinator, does a very thorough job, representing the botanical values of places of local and national significance where the knowledge held by Society members can make a difference.

We’ve been fortunate, in BotSoc, to have had many wonderful role models.   Sadly, Helen Druce died on 9 April, but she leaves a legacy of passion for native plants and animals, love and support for people, and absolute joy in life.   Her laugh was infectious and would light up any space.   In fact hospital staff had to ask her to keep noise levels down when she was recovering from heart problems!   Determination is another of Helen’s key traits: I remember her exclaiming “I hate hills!” as she planted her hands on her hips and walked doggedly up a steep slope with pack laden for a 4-night trip, not stopping once until she reached the top some 400m higher.   We will miss you, Helen.   A full obituary will be published in the Bulletin.

Carol West

Helen Druce

The NZ Plant Conservation Network has published an item by Tony Silbery about Helen Druce on its web site:, reproduced below.


Helen Druce
Photo: Helen Druce at Corner Creek with Pseudopanax ferox by Jeremy Rolfe.
14 Apr 2010

“I don’t go that fast these days, especially on hills, I just drop into low gear and plod along” said Helen, who promptly shouldered her pack and set off at a steady pace that had (much) younger folk regretting a large lunch.   It wasn’t a light pack either, nor a fancy modern one and a full Mountain Mule is a brute to haul.   She then kept up the same pace for the next five hours, navigated back to camp, got the fire going, made the most amazing meal and mused on the antics of other members of the party who had decided to take a three or four hour detour for a look at some small buttercups and wouldn’t be back until well after dark.   “They’re mad” was her conclusion; reinforced when hours later they arrived, not having even got close to the swamp where the buttercups grew.

We were in the upper Moawhango valley in the middle of January with 30 plus degree days and camp was a few tents in a little patch of beech forest miles from anywhere.   Helen and Tony were well into their 60’s and could manage a day that made the most of a rare visit into one of New Zealand’s botanical treasures, while the rest of us straggled in their wake, trying to take in the grandeur of the setting, the intimate details of the plants and the sweep of history that saw a small group of South Island species make their home in the centre of the North Island.   Somehow, it seemed to me, Helen just understood and felt this landscape and these plants in a way that was beyond mere science, it was alive, joyous and wonderful as well as being a botanical gem and her delight at being there was palpable and infectious.

This was just one of many trips that Tony and Helen undertook in a shared life that led them into some of the most amazing parts of our country and endowed them with a deep love for New Zealand plants that they were only too happy to share.   Their Easter and Christmas trips with the Wellington Botanical Society became legendary, the ground often prepared by a few “recce” visits as they made sure that no potential source of interest would be left out.

Though she would hardly admit to it, Helen was a formidable botanist in her own right, with a great eye in the field, spotting many species long before others had even thought to look, and a memory for detail that would allow her to describe critical differences in an easily understood manner.   Her “copper pipe stems” guide to recognising Coprosma rigida has served well on more than one occasion.

In the garden at Pinehaven she would describe in great detail the trip which gave rise to this or that plant, who was there, what debate was had about its identity, but most of all what a wonderful part of the country it was, how amazing the plants were and how great the company was.   Whether Central Otago or the Far North, Helen could tell you a tale that made you remember vividly if you were there and if you weren’t, then you wished fervently that you had been, so good were her descriptions.

One of the great servants of New Zealand’s flora has left, at the age of 88, but she managed to share her love of plants with many people, spanning many generations, and with the generosity that typified both Helen and Tony, they gifted many of their most special plants to Percy Reserve, where they continue to grow, testament to both the wonderful flora that we are privileged to live alongside and the equally wonderful couple who have done so much to explore and explain it.

By Tony Silbery, Department of Conservation.   Email: tsilbery (at)

Wellington Botanical Society’s new web site

Some changes are in the wind for the Wellington Botanical Society web site, because the committee decided it was time to refresh it.   We are grateful to Victoria University computer student, Danny Kendrick, who has redesigned the web page layout.   In addition, we have registered our own web address and moved the web site to a new hosting company.   We hope you find the new web address less cumbersome than the old one – the new one is:

As a trial, the three most commonly used pages (Home page, Meetings page and Trips page) have already been updated to a draft of the new style.   These are at the new web site address.   More changes to these pages have been suggested.   Progressively these pages will be updated, as will additional pages from the old web site.   Links to pages that have not yet been updated will take viewers back to the old web pages until all pages have been updated to the new style.

The committee hopes that you will find the new style more refreshing, modern and easier to read.   For those of you who desire larger font sizes to aid reading – in Outlook browsers select View -> Text -> Larger; in Firefox browsers, select View -> Zoom -> Zoom in (with Zoom text only checked).

As always, additional content material, articles of botanical interest, longer versions of trip and meeting reports, and additional photographs to illustrate trip and meeting reports and articles, are very welcome.

Richard Herbert, webmaster, Wellington Botanical Society,

Environment Court protects open space on south coast

The Environment Court has issued a 28-page decision approving OPEN SPACE zoning for public land at 178–180 Owhiro Bay Parade, Wellington, at the entrance to Te Kopahou Reserve – the former Owhiro Bay Quarry.   This was requested by the Southern Environmental Association, Action for Environment Inc, Owhiro Bay Residents’ Association, and Island Bay Residents’ Association, at the hearing 1-3 March 2010.

The Court has rejected Wellington City Council’s request for Outer Residential zoning of the site to provide for housing development.

This means that the land will be protected as open space for future generations – a tremendous result.

Source: Southern Environmental Association

Is the Tide Turning?   Islands’ Invasives: Eradication and Management

8-12 February 2010.   Host: Centre of Biodiversity and Biosecurtiy (CBB), University of Auckland’s Tamaki Campus, Glen Innes.   It follows the conference of 2001, continuing the theme of ‘Turning the Tide’.   How timely it is with the United Nations declaring 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity.   Al Morrison, Director-General, DOC, gave the opening address.

Over 240 people from 25 countries attended, bringing reports of pre-eradication planning and post-eradication outcomes, on islands as far flung as Anguilla (Caribbean), Christmas, Dirk Hartog, Macquarie and Lord Howe (Australia), Fiji, Galapagos (Ecuador), Gough and Tristan da Cunha (UK), Guam, Mexico, Santa Cruz and Vancouver (USA), Lehua and O’ahu (Hawaii), Socotra (Yemen), South Atlantic UK Overseas Territories, Tetiaroa (French Polynesia), Trindade (Brazil).   Presentations on NZ islands’ eradications included Campbell, Fiordland’s off-shore islands, Motuopoa, Raoul and Taukihepa (Muttonbird Islands).   There were also eradication projects taking place on continents.

Piero Genovesi, Chair, International Invasive Species Specialist Group, gave the keynote speech, stating that despite the huge advances in technical control, plants and animals continue to invade, owing mainly to economic practices.   Since 2001, globally there have been 1129 eradications, 86% of them successful.   97% of eradications on islands have been successful.   Even the failures have led to technical advances.

Bigger, more remote areas, more difficult species, and multi-species eradications, are now being tackled.   Undesirable impacts are being reduced, but more long-term monitoring is needed.   Cuts in funding, world-wide, mean projects must be prioritised.   The public is reluctant to accept the killing of animals, and opposition by animal rights groups is a serious obstacle to eradication programmes.   Public education will lead to better support, especially in eradication schemes on inhabited islands.   Eradication is not yet recognised as a good tool by the wider public.

There is a need to develop global early-warning systems and rapid-response mechanisms.   This was dwelt on by many presenters who talked about the tragedy of breaking up an expert team of pest-eradication specialists, environmental experts, administrators, and helicopter pilots, at the end of a long project.   As these people need regular income and tend to be multi-skilled, they go on to other jobs, so are lost to similar work in the future.   Alan Saunders, in his presentation on ‘Increasing the pace, scale and effectiveness of island restoration’, went so far as to propose a permanent vessel equipped to come over the horizon when the planning was done, and the local population was prepared for the moment of actual eradication.

Our President, Carol West, gave two papers.   The first was on ‘Plant: animal interactions – considerations prior to rat eradication on Raoul Island’, and another on ‘Plant responses following eradication of goats and rats on Raoul Island’.   In the audience she recognised many people who had been involved on Raoul Island one way or another.

Future management challenges:
•   Bigger islands are more complicated.   Failure is more likely.   Successful eradication is negated by reinvasion.   Prevention is better than cure.
•   Biosecurity should be arranged before eradication occurs.   There should be interaction with the population, and in particular subsequent targeting of inter-island trade and any development projects.
•   Local populations e.g. Lord Howe, Ascension Island, must be involved and support eradication.   At best they will have requested it.
•   Weather.   In tropical areas forecasts may be poor and rain unpredictable.
•   Rain-forest islands with tree-dwelling rats, ants and crabs are difficult.
•   Some species are especially difficult e.g., mongoose, ants.
•   Killing of non-target species remains a problem.
•   Ethical issues of animal rights and welfare.
•   A wonderful team is assembled, only to disperse afterwards.

Invasive species continue to spread.   In February, Samoa reported the capture of a mongoose in a trap sent from NZ.   Mongooses were first seen in Samoa late last year.   With data from DNA testing of other populations it may be possible to determine where this mongoose came from, and then surmise how it may have reached Samoa.   This analysis is very useful in NZ, where Kaikoura Is, less than 1 km from Great Barrier I., and with open access to the public, has had instances of rats caught in the traps set on the shoreline.   It can now be determined whether this is a local rat re-invading, or a rat from ‘outside’.   Security can then be enhanced.

Whatever our local problems, spare a thought for the Sri Lankans trying to conduct pest control in land-mined areas.   Or, in Socotra (Yemen), house crows were finally shot out by a brave man, among a population which was armed and trigger-happy.   Or the difficulties of restoration of Trindade Island, off Brazil, where the image of the barren island, now an offshore army base, showed the exposed and bleached remains of one tree’s root system.   This is all that remains of the vegetation, the topsoil is completely gone.   Luckily a botanist collected a pathetic herbarium specimen from a dying tree in the 1960s.   Only from this it is known what trees were once native there.

When animals are eradicated their seed goes with them, but with plants, seed remains in the soil so that monitoring and control must continue, perhaps for decades, before the eradication can be declared successful.   The tide has not yet turned.

Mike Clout, the Director of the CBB, said that conference proceedings will be published in a year or so.

Julia Stace Brooke-White,
Shelley Heiss-Dunlop

Wetland restoration handbook

A new publication, Wetland restoration: a handbook for New Zealand freshwater systems, is designed for specialists and non-specialists on wetland restoration.   Although a technical manual, the emphasis has been on creating a user-friendly resource showcasing the diversity of wetlands in NZ, and projects to restore them.   The 280-page handbook is available in two forms: online, and hardcover with internal spiral bind.

The following web sites have information on Handbook content, and where to purchase it.

Online Version

Order form

General book information

Monica Peters, Email monica.peters (at),, New Zealand Landcare Trust [NZLCT]

Botanical Society of Otago newsletters

The URL link for latest BotSoc newsletter is:

Previous newsletters can be downloaded from the Botanical Society of Otago web site

Robyn Bridges for Botanical Society of Otago

Matiu matters

The forest continues to grow on Matiu / Somes Island.   Lower Hutt Branch, Forest & Bird’s work is now reduced to helping DOC when there are plants to pot up, and understorey areas to plant.   Twenty-nine years have passed since the programme began.   The branch is producing a book describing this significant project.   We hope to launch it in July, to celebrate 29 years of achievement.

Forest & Bird House, in which F&B members and all conservation groups had the exclusive right to stay, has become part of DOC’s island accommodation, open to the public at large.   This ends F&B’s taking all bookings, and sharing the net profit with DOC.   The house accommodates up to eight people, and costs $160 for exclusive use, even if fewer people book it.   Bookings may be made by:
•   e-mail: wellingtonvc (at); the web:; post: DOC Wellington Visitor Centre, Box 10 420, WN 6143,
•   visiting DOC Wellington Visitor Centre, Conservation House, 18-32 Manners St.   Ph 04 384 7770.

An overnight stay on Matiu / Somes is one to remember.   Do go!

Stan Butcher

Whitireia Park fire

Address to Wellington Conservation Board during public forum, 25 February 2010

A fire, apparently deliberately list, destroyed valuable areas of naturally regenerating bush at Whitireia Park, Titahi Bay, Porirua City, and much of a small bush remnant above the carpark at Onehunga Bay which was being restored by the Onehunga Bay Restoration Group.

One of the Society’s members, Robyn Smith, who lives in Titahi Bay, has been involved with this group for many years, as a volunteer, and when working for Greater Wellington’s Take Care programme.   Robyn was appointed to the Whitireia Park Board by the Minister of Conservation about 2003.

Robyn is deeply upset about the setback to the regeneration of native vegetation in the park.   The Botanical Society committee understands that, if one or more people are found guilty of arson, Robyn wants to provide a victim statement to the Court as part of the sentencing process.

Robyn’s view, as a person with considerable experience in local ecological restoration, is that that the local native vegetation has been regenerating slowly but well, especially in gullies in the “inland valley”.   She was hopeful that in another 10–15 years, the native species would have out-competed the gorse in some areas.

The Botanical Society Committee discussed the future of the burnt areas on 24 February.   Points made included:
•   Immediate threats include the invasion of weed species and run-off into the sea,
•   A new covering of thick gorse will quickly emerge,
•   The range of native species that will regenerate naturally is likely to be less diverse as a result of damage to, or changes in, the seed-bank in the soil,
•   Fire will continue to be a risk.

The Committee urges the Board to encourage DOC, Greater Wellington and Ngati Toa, as the three relevant governance bodies, to act promptly to develop a plan for the recovery of the area while the fire is still fresh in people’s minds.   This may include identifying areas for sowing pasture, fencing off some areas for natural regeneration and enrichment plantings, and preparing and maintaining more effective firebreaks.   We recognise the current funding pressures, but consider that the fire may have raised community awareness of what has been lost to such an extent that some influential community organisations and companies may be prepared to start a restoration fund specifically for the park.   Community members, including schools and corporate groups that have taken part in planting days, are likely to be willing to contribute.

We see prompt collaborative planning as the essential first step, and hope the Board will advocate for this.

Bev Abbott, for Wellington Botanical Society

2010: International Year of Biodiversity

The United Nations declared 2010 to be the International Year of Biodiversity.   It is a celebration of life on earth and of the value of biodiversity for our lives.   The world is invited to take action in 2010 to safeguard the variety of life on earth: biodiversity.   The goal is to increase public awareness of the topic of biodiversity with its many facets.   The opening ceremony of the International Year of Biodiversity was held in Berlin on 11 January 2010.

QEII Trust Open Space Covenants

The trust has recently registered the following Open Space Covenants in the Wellington region:
•   Porirua C.C. / Porirua C.C.   0.1 ha wetland
•   Wellington C.C. / Watson & Cardno.   0.8 ha forest
•   Wellington C.C. / Wellington Natural Heritage Trust Inc.   7.1 ha forest
•   Tararua D.C. / Dandy.   10.3 ha forest
•   Tararua D.C. / Zenith Land Co. Ltd.   47.6 ha forest
•   Tararua D.C. / Ahradson.   16.4 ha forest & shrubland
•   Tararua D.C. / Poulton & Greer.   0.9 ha forest
•   Masterton D.C. / Byrne & Brewerton.   4.5 ha forest & wetland
•   Masterton D.C. / Daniell & Garstang.   1.2 ha forest
•   Masterton D.C. / Hayes.   0.5 ha forest & flaxland
•   Masterton D.C. / Solway College Board of Proprietors Inc.   1.0 ha forest
•   Carterton D.C. / X-Site Ltd.   1.6 ha treeland
•   South Wairarapa D.C. / Marsh & Campbell.   1.9 ha forest
•   South Wairarapa D.C. / Prickett.   16.6 ha duneland, wetland

As at 31/1/10, the 813,000 ha in Wellington Regional Council’s area had 263 registered covenants, and 40 approved covenants, with a total area, registered and approved, of 5,949 ha.   The largest registered covenant is 824 ha, and the average covenant size is 19.6 ha.

Source: Open Space 77 11/09 and 78 3/10.

For information on covenanting indigenous plant communities, or other natural features, on your property, contact: QEII National Trust, Box 3341, WN 6140.   Phone 04 472 6626.   Wellington Regional Representative: Peter Ettema , Phone 04 970 0324, mobile 021 1748 651, Email pettema (at)

New Conservation Covenants

The following areas have been protected recently between the named owner and the Minister of Conservation:

Te Wai-Komaru Conservation Covenant 6.11.2009
Owner :   NZ Forestry Group Ltd (director: Wes Garratt)
Area :   57.83 ha, situated on Wellington south coast
Values :   coastal dune, scarp with ‘grey scrub’ vegetation, speargrass weevil (Lyperobius huttonii) present in the coastal area of scrub.   This flightless weevil is dependent on speargrass (Aciphylla squarrosa) for its entire life-cycle.   Stephanorhynchus insolitus (a weevil) is also likely to be present.   Resulted from former Wildlife Service request to protect speargrass weevil and its habitat.

Te Humenga Conservation Covenant 20.7.2009
Owner :   Simon Crawford
Area :   21.6 ha
Values :   coastal duneland containing native coastal plants including sand tussock (Austrofestuca littoralis), katipo spiders, lizards, and the threatened Notoreas moth.   The covenant is being boundary-fenced with a fenced access track from Cape Palliser Rd to a car park next to the high water mark.   Public access is available to the beach, though access on the covenant itself for botanical or fauna survey is by prior request to owner.

David Bishop Conservation Support Officer (Statutory Land Management) Wellington Hawke’s Bay Conservancy, DOC

New Zealand Notable Trees Trust news

The main focus of the Trust’s efforts is updating and verifying records held in the database.   In addition to this, many new records have been added.   To view all updated records and any new trees added to the register simply go to the search page and select Verified Trees Only,

Among the more notable trees added to the register is the largest dawn redwood recorded in NZ.   Location – New Plymouth.   See our September 2009 newsletter, page 7.   Go to:

Tree of the Month
The trust has received notification of a truly outstanding puriri tree, submitted by a visitor from Sweden.   While some measurements of the tree where not taken, close scrutiny of the image shows how large this tree is!   Further information is being sought on the tree to complete the file.   To view the tree, type 710 into the ‘Jump to a specific record’ search and click Jump.

If you would like to help to update tree records, or register as a tree recorder, go to our web site and follow the instructions:

NZ Notable Trees Trust, nzntt (at)

Mary Margaret Robertson (née Hutchison) 12.4.1929 – 1.12.2009

Mary’s love of the outdoors was stimulated by her studies for her MSc in Botany at the University of Canterbury.   Mary is recorded in Tony Druce’s trip log as having been on her first trip on the Easter 1985 trip in Pureora.   She was a member of BotSoc from November 1990 until 2007.   Mary came on numerous trips, some in the central North Island, and others further afield.   We will remember her love of botanising, and for the ranges, in the company of kindred spirits.   She was always full of good sense around camp and full of enthusiasm.   We thank her son, Hugh Robertson, for providing some of this information.

Darea Sherratt and Chris Horne


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