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Trip Report – Te Marua Bush workbee, Upper Hutt

Trip Report – 17 June 2017 :   Te Marua Bush workbee, Upper Hutt

Nine BotSoccers, three Upper Hutt Forest & Bird members, Kim Broad, Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC), and a Kaitoke Regional Park ranger, gathered to do some planting and releasing, and to check how the bush had coped during the summer.   We worked in the newest planting area, north of the main bush, and close to SH2.   We applied slow-release fertiliser to six plants we put in to fill gaps, and herbicide to blackberry and woody weeds we cut off at ground level, and freed plantings of weedy vines.

After tea break, we gathered near the entry gate to plant a 2-m-tall kahikatea as a memorial to Barbara Mitcalfe who was involved from the start of the Te Marua Bush restoration project in 1989.   GWRC, BotSoc and F&B have all worked on this project, so have witnessed the improving health of the original bush, and the growth in the bush-extension plantings which protect its edges.   The bush is now a more viable size, with increased protection from gales.

We walked through the original bush to show the newer participants what had been done, and to check progress since last year.   Growth of the canopy trees, the under-storey, and the ground-cover, has been vigorous.   Seedlings of tree-species and of shrub species are numerous, after the mild 2016 winter and wet summer.

GWRC’s weed-control programme has been most effective.   Convolulus is still present but is less of a problem as trees gain height.   English ivy and wild strawberry are creeping into the edges of the plantings, and sycamore and flowering cherry seedlings continue to arrive.

The amount of blown and thrown rubbish entering the bush from the adjacent roads has declined as tree growth along the bush edges has become more dense.   Matai and black maire seeded abundantly, and several local people have reported seeing flocks of tui squabbling on loaded matai branches.

Participants : Kim Broad (GWRC), Gavin Dench, Carolyn Dimattina, Chris Horne, Alison Lane, Ann Mitcalfe, Richard Parfitt, Lynne Pomare, Graeme Sheppard, Sunita Singh, Nathan Vickers (GWRC), coleaders: Glennis Sheppard and Sue Millar.

Addendum More than 20 Ileostylus micranthus / pirinoa / small-flowered mistletoe fruit, sourced from plants on tree lucerne near the Hutt River south of the SH2 Moonshine bridge, have been placed on several kahikatea, kowhai, totara, five-finger, black maire and lowland ribbonwood in the planted strip between Twin Lakes Road and the pony paddock, and on the Melicpoe simplex by the stile.   It was on this small tree that in 1994 Tony Silbery stuck several mistletoe fruit, using their natural ‘glue’ produced when he squeezed the fruit.   The mistletoes which resulted grew to such a size that the tree’s branches snapped under their weight.

Trip Report – 11 November 2017 :   Te Marua Bush workbee, Upper Hutt

Sixteen Botanical Society members and Forest & Bird members, including Kim Broad from GWRC, met to do releasing and checking through Te Marua Bush.

We started with the plantings at the northern end.   In the strip bordering the Pony Club and Twin Lakes Rd, we removed convolvulus and seedlings of sycamore, wilding cherry, English ivy and broom.   On the Pony Club side, the fast-growing manuka and kanuka were cut back to make ‘light-wells’ for the totara to grow up through.   In the rest of this planting, light-wells were also cut for matai, kahikatea, and maire wherever they had been over-topped by faster growing species.   This area had very good growth over the past wet, mild winter, and the trees have mostly grown together, forming a good windbreak for Pony Club activities.

The newest planting area - the triangle beside SH2 - had weeds removed.   Blackberry, broom and larger weeds were cut and pasted with herbicide.   Convolvulus and fennel were cut and long grass cut and placed around the plantings to prevent them drying out, and to promote seed development.   Replacement plants put in earlier this year have survived, and more self-seeded manuka and kanuka have grown where grass cover near the fence is sparse.

After morning tea, we moved to the southern plantings and weeded and cut light-wells there.   Blackberry, ivy, sycamore, cherry, convolvulus, one jasmine, alstroemeria and montbretia were removed.   The trees here have grown well all year, and the totara, kahikatea, matai and maire are now emerging through the canopies of the koromiko, karamu, manuka and other short-lived pioneer species.

Several bird nests were noticed through the bush.   In the southern planting, we found a fantail nest very low down - it contained four small blue eggs.   Throughout the bush there are plenty of seedlings, but these may find survival difficult if the present hot, dry weather continues during summer.

We collected and sorted rubbish.   It was around the edges of the bush, not inside it.   There was very little compared with the piles we used to collect.

Participants : Kim Broad (GWRC), Barbara Clark, Gavin Dench, Michele Dickson, Julia Fraser, Ian Goodwin, Jill Goodwin, Chris Horne, Alison Lane, Rodney Lewington, Graeme Sheppard, Darea Sherratt, Sunita Singh, Julia White.   Glennis Sheppard and Sue Millar (joint leaders / scribes).


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