Lower Hutt Forest & Bird Newsletter October 2011

Lower Hutt F&B Newsletter October 2011


It is easy to be gloomy about the future but every time I see Forest and Bird members restoring a new area, collaborating with other groups and campaigning together, every time I read the   magazine, I am encouraged that many of us believe in values other than GDP, growth, and consumerism at the expense of the environment. Our recent public meeting where we questioned the local candidates about conservation and the environment showed that political parties have to factor global warming, biodiversity and the state of our environment into decisions. We have moved significantly over the last few decades. The problems are greater, but so is the environmental  consciousness of the public. The political process is not doing enough but I sense that it is moving in the right direction. 

Russell Bell Chair

If you wish to increase your activity in LHF&B, talk to Russell

russelljamesbell@gmail.com or telephone 04 3806130.

Reports from Sub Committees

The sub-committees or portfolios do much of the real work of the branch. You can join or become an associate of a sub-committee without being a member of the main committee - So if you are interested, ring the leader.


National Conservation

Stopping the Mokihinui River from being dammed

Forest and Bird are appealing the damming of the Mokihinui.  Damming will   prevent fish and eel migration to and from the sea and flood 300 hectares of protected rain forest. Other rivers and lakes will follow if Mokihinui proceeds. We told politicians we did not want any more of our natural waterways dammed and we donated $2000 to F&B HO to fight the destruction of this river and its forests.

A National Park in the Mackenzie Basin

The Mackenzie is being privatised and irrigated. We want to achieve a dry-lands national park that is of adequate size to sustain the wildlife of the area and able to give visitors that experience that most New Zealanders have  enjoyed of a desert landscape surrounded by snow covered mountains and traversed by   glacial fed rivers and moraine lakes.

Protecting part of the Denniston Plateau

This area is unique in NZ and rare in the world, consisting of vegetation and wildlife on a coal substrate. If development options go ahead, we will have no representative area of this type left. The National Conservation subcommittee needs to be strengthened. Contact Stan Butcher 5677271.

Local conservation

Gravel extraction at Fitzroy Bay

We have read the decisions regarding mining in Fitzroy Bay. The judges reduced the amount of gravel, restricted the areas to be mined and reduced the period before renewal. The decision was well reasoned and although our preference is that mining did not occur on this area of coast, we accept the decisions. A NIWA aquatic plant survey rates Lake Kohangatera as NZ’s 10th best lake out of 200 describing it as “a nationally outstanding example of a lowland lagoon system”.

Ecological Corridors

Two big achievements for our ecological corridors concept. Hutt City are proposing that much of the Eastern Hills become Scenic  Reserve. The rest of the Eastern Hills are zoned appropriately. When they are scenic reserve, our corridors will be in place from the Rimutakas to East Harbour to the Silverstream tip area. The second was the purchase by HCC of the Waddington property in Stokes Valley. This adds lower altitude forest and a small wetland to the corridor.  


Waiu Wetland

Waiu is changing. One dry water course has had its water returned to it by damming a large drain, a small lake has been created and generally its hydrology has been returned as close to the original as possible. The amount of wetland has increased. We have had some success with the removal of hollies, flowering cherries and wattles and planting of the central stream and side area has been completed by Hutt City. Eradication of pines and willows are next on the list. Clematis paniculata is abundant throughout the wetland and very visible at the moment with its large white flowers.

We are co-operating with a christian conservation organisation (A Rocha) to get further work done in Waiu.

We have a group of about 14 people wanting to be kept in touch by email and are willing to work on Waiu on a best endeavours basis. Join by sending an email to rbell@slingshot.co.nz. 

Korokoro Stream

We collaborated with Korokoro Environmental Group (KEG) to enable native fish to pass up the lower dam and access the main stream below the upper dam and the major side stream to and beyond Baked Beans Bend. The additional habitat will be very significant. Greater Wellington took up our suggestion and bought the mussel spat ropes, worked out how to anchor the ropes above the dam and installed 4 ropes over the dam. At some time in the future, GW will be able to determine whether this method is successful or not. If it is, then this is a relatively cheap method of fixing this sort of obstacle. if not, then we have learnt something and must try a different method. The upper dam is much harder to fix. It is a multi-drop dam and has greater historic significance. 

If you are interested in being involved, send an email to rbell@slingshot.co.nz.

 Baring Head

Greater Wellington convened a meeting to discuss restoration of this 284 hectare property and a round of submissions has been run on it. We participated in both. The property has 9   ecological zones.

1 River wetland

2 River flats

3 Grey scrub community (river escarpment)

4 Beach and river gravels

5 Raised beaches

6 Coastal wetlands

7 Coastal flats

8 Coastal escarpment

9 Marine terraces

In particular, we submitted that the riverine wetlands would have been much larger than they are today and some method should be investigated to establish and restore their size and degree of wetness.

A few people are in favour of keeping the marine terraces open, however, true to our principles, we asked for all areas to be restored. 

Matiu/Somes Island

DOC staff are currently mapping special trees that need on going TLC to ensure their survival.   The island is to be split up into seven zones that are moderately accessible and relatively flat. They need to find two committed individuals to take on each zone - so 14 people all up, to take on the role of releasing the special 'island rare' native trees including rata, hinau, tawa,  kohekohe and others. The role will require at least two visits a year to meticulously search the area in order to monitor the survival of these high value plants. Most of these plants are already flagged with flagging tape, and have had the primary release work done. The ongoing trips from now on will continue to check these plants for obstruction from less sensitive plants i.e. taupata and ngaio, and clear obstructions away to allow the special trees to have chance of pushing through the canopy and having a healthy life.

 Percy Reserve

Hutt City is looking for people to establish a "Friends of Percy Scenic Reserve" volunteer group. Potential activities include an advisory group, submitting input on development of the reserve, guiding walks for visitors and schools, working with council to re-establish tracks and participating in community events. Interested people should contact Kristan Robinson, Volunteer Coordinator, Hutt City Council 0274-435-224 or email Kristan.Robinson@huttcity.govt.nz

Other matters


Graph Lower Hutt F&B Membership 2004

Graph Lower Hutt F&B Membership 2004


The graph shows the decrease in membership since 2004 until face to face recruiting early this year. Some face to face people have left and the previous decline on long standing members continues but as you can see we are about 100 members up on where we would have been without face to face. Face to face costs the society (Not our branch) but that is the executive responsibility.

The number of memberships is 588 with an  additional 149 KCC members.

Web site

Our website is http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/what-we-do/branches/lower-hutt You can see our programme at this site.

Matiu/Somes book

We have sold 600 odd books but have 1400 still to sell. Christmas is coming and for some, this would make a very good present.

Plant Sale

The annual plant sale ran again this year and netted slightly less than $2000. We have set up an informal group to continue this activity. This is our biggest fund raising event and an important one for the branch. We are indebted to Waterloo School for the free use of their hall, The Breeze for free advertising, Community Print Copy Centre for free   copying of of flyers and posters and to MIRO for the donation of many plants. We need someone to take over the leadership of this event. Our thanks to   Barbara de Ste Croix for her leadership over the past four years and for all those who have helped.


Our finances are OK. we still need to sell Matiu/Somes books to get them back to where they were.


We have sent out a colour electronic newsletter in April, June and September.


We have had several good articles and   mentions in the Newspapers - Korokoro Stream fish ropes, Baring Head wetlands and others.


Stan will not stand for secretary at the next election. We need a volunteer now. You don’t have to do minutes. 

 KCC Karen Baker 04 9382050

KCC ran a very successful outing in Percy  Reserve. About 40 children (and adults)   explored most of the reserve searching for answers to questions they were given. To help, they were given a list of clues at identified locations on a map of the reserve’s tracks.



We have had a very interesting group of speakers. Alan Tennyson of Te Papa talked about the Fossil Bonanza in what was a huge lake in Otago. The fossils found there have changed our understanding of NZ’s past. Graham Lyon reviewed the very successful work done to replant beach dunes in front of the esplanade wall on Petone’s foreshore. Glen Falconer and Nikki McArthur told us about the Greater Wellington predator control and monitoring program. The area covered and the intensity of trapping was impressive and the results astounding. We will have more that tuis back in our gardens in future years. In October I asked National, Labour and Green politicians questions on the environment and conservation. We have drastically summarized the questions and answers below. We have tried to be fair but of course the answer was never as unqualified as we have reported. We apologize for any unintended unfairness. See below.
And we have another exciting lot of speakers for the next 6 months.


Politicians Meeting

Politicians attending were Paul Quinn National, Chris Hipkins Labour, and Kevin Hague Green. We asked the following questions.

Climate change

What would be the first thing the Greens would do? Greens prefer carbon tax.
Would Labour reverse the delayed affect on agriculture? Yes. More R&D.
National had the last word: Balance GDP/Environment needed.

Game Animal Council

Aren't National proposing farming our protected areas? No discernible answer
Labour Would you abolish GAC? GAC advisory only.
Green had the last word; DoC and CAG unworkable.

Pollution of Waterways

What legislative steps would Labour implement to bring them to a non polluted state? National Standards.
What would the Greens do? Set standards.
Is National happy with the status quo? Yes.

Marine Reserves

Labour did not add much last time. Will it if voted in? 30% protected by 2020.



Will National create any more mainland reserves if voted in? We are already doing well.
Greens had last word; Agree with Labour.

Clean and Green image

What priority will Greens give to get reality and image aligned? Green is essential.
National John Key thinks we are comparatively C&G so is all well? We are working hard on it.
Labour It slid during your time in office. Would it be different next time. Much more next time.

Damming natural waterways

Does National agree with SOEs damming natural waterways? Yes.
Would Greens allow SOEs to dam more natural waterways? No.
Labour had last word; No. National electricity strategy needed, not competition.

DoC funding

What would the Greens cut if Doc funding increased? All priorities would alter.
Given the decreases, why would any conservationist vote national? No discernible answer.
Would Labour increase Doc funding? Yes Agree with Greens.

A New Cloak for Matiu   Only $20.00 to members

Our book “A New Cloak for Matiu” has been published with the aim of recording a pioneer re-vegetation project on Matiu/Somes Island. The book marks thirty years of restoration and documents the memories of the people involved over the years. With 130,000 native plants and the eradication of pests, the forest has become a habitat for native fauna not seen on the island for tens of years – among them tuatara, kakariki, North Island robin, Cook Strait giant weta, Wellington tree weta, skinks and gecko – a place where the public can see them in the wild. This is a story well worth telling: one that demonstrates the value of ecological restoration, and of volunteer commitment. Many schools take the ferry to explore Matiu/Somes when visiting Wellington. At $20.00 for Forest and Bird members and $25.00 for the public, the A5 sized book makes a good Christmas present and may be purchased from; Lower Hutt Forest & Bird, PO Box 31-194 Lower Hutt 5040, or email lowerhutt.branch@forestandbird.org.nz