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

December 2012 News

From the President

At our October meeting, we congratulated Ciaran Sim, winner of Wellington Botanical Society’s 2012 NIWA Science Fair prize for the best project involving native flora.   Ciaran’s project was “Plants vs Bacteria”.   It is good to see an interest in botany being fostered at a young age.

At our September, October and November meetings, our speakers gave us glimpses of what is happening in the natural world; from the unique habitats of the Denniston Plateau, to the coastal sand dunes of the Wellington region, and the marine environment of corals.   Each of these natural ecosystems is subject to the influence of humans, and their impacts on the environment and climate.   Can these natural ecosystems adapt to withstand the rate of change?   Each step we take to reduce the impact of change on our natural environment helps save natural ecosystems for the future.   It was good to read a recent Environment Court decision extending rules in Waitaki District Council’s District Plan, intended to protect native plants in sensitive areas, by including high-country land freeholded under tenure review; also to read in the DomPost, 26 November, about the Morgan Foundation upholding the public interest in the leading work of Horizons Regional Council fighting to protect the quality of natural water.

In this newsletter are details of a photo competition, a new venture for BotSoc, but a long-running activity of the Botanical Society of Otago and Otari- Wilton’s Bush Trust.   It will encourage a new way of looking at NZ’s botany and provide BotSoc with quality images to refresh our display boards, and to use in future Society publications, to enhance communication about NZ’s botany.   On behalf of the committee, I wish members a very happy Christmas and New Year, and safe travels over the holiday period.

Richard Herbert


Draft Town Belt Management Plan

Submissions closed on 10 December on the draft Wellington Town Belt Management Plan which describes Wellington City Council’s (WCC) proposals to make decisions about the Town Belt over the next ten years.   The plan presents objectives and policies by topic, (e.g. recreation, landscape, ecology); other parts have a geographic focus and will be very helpful for people with an interest in a specific place.   There are nine geographic sectors, including Te Ahumairangi (formerly Tinakori Hill) and Mt Victoria.   Each sector has a set of maps which are a rich source of information about the area of the original (1841) Town Belt, the existing vegetation, recreational facilities, and proposed management strategies.   Forty pages of appendices provide the historical information which is essential reading for understanding how the Town Belt came to be the way it is, and the tensions and questions about how it should be managed in future.

In the ecology chapter, we were pleased to find commitments to supporting community groups in restoration and revegetation programmes, and to using eco-sourced plants in all restoration work with native plants.   Recognition of the relationship between the Town Belt’s ecology, and the resilience of the city, was a new angle to think about.

The real challenge, however, is how best to tackle the restoration of the Town Belt, given the current state of its ecosystems.   The draft plan reports that:
•   probably 99.5% of the original forest cover has now been lost
•   podocarp and most broadleaf species are absent from the Town Belt
•   the plant communities are young and simple in structure, with a limited diversity of native species
•   the reduced diversity of native species in the plant communities, and their fragmentation, has resulted in a reduced diversity of species of indigenous fauna
•   pest plants and other weeds are a threat throughout the Town Belt and are a particular concern for small, isolated parts of it.

Restoration will be a long, slow process.   We all know WCC can’t do this alone.   We need to think about the goals for the next 100-200 years, not just the next ten.   We also know the pathway is not clear.   There are many unknowns, including what may or may not be achievable.   In our submission, we’ve encouraged WCC to open up communication networks for collecting and sharing information about the indigenous biodiversity on the Town Belt.   WCC is in a good position to provide opportunities for ecologists, foresters, soil scientists, other experts, and the volunteers and staff who do the work on the ground, to engage with each other and with WCC.

Bev Abbott Submissions Coordinator

Arnold and Ruth Dench Award

The 2012 award goes to:
•   Jessie Prebble for research on Myosotis
•   Jonathan Frericks for research on orchid restoration techniques.

Each applicant requested about $600, and because the award is for $1000, Vaughn Bell and Alison Dench generously decide to increase the sum available to $1200 so that both could be awarded funding.

Carol West and Eleanor Burton

Wellington Botanical Society Jubilee Award

The 2012 award goes to:
•   Carlos Lehnebach for research on orchid restoration techniques.   Carlos requested less than the full sum available ($2600), so the remainder of c. $370 goes to:
•   Wynn Udall for research on mycorrhizae required for effective restoration of forest in a pasture environment.

Carol West and Eleanor Burton

Books for sale

The following books, mostly donated by Stan Butcher, are for sale, with the proceeds going to the Jubilee Award Fund.   If you are able to collect and pay for the book(s) of your choice at a BotSoc meeting, please do so.   The following prices do NOT include packing and postage.   We will invoice you for the cost of books we post to you.   Please make your cheque payable to Wellington Botanical Society.

1.   A Key to the Genera of New Zealand Ferns and Allied Plants.   Booklet.   $4.00
2.   An Introduction to Plant Biology.   Weier, Stocking and Barbour.   $7.00
3.   Australia’s Wild Flowers.   Michael Morcambe.   $8.00
4.   BotSoc Bulletins 42-52.   $4.00 ea
5.   BotSoc Songbook.   Soft cover.   $5.00
6.   Butterfly Gardening.   The Xerxes Society, Smithsonian Institute.   $4.00
7.   Conservation of Plant Species and Habitats – a symposium held at 15th Pacific Science Congress, Dunedin, February 1983.   $2.50
8.   Establishing Shelter in Canterbury with Nature Conservation in mind.
9.   Environment Canterbury.   Small booklet.   $2.00
10.   Government Approval of West Coast and Southland Beech Forest Utilisation Proposals.   NZ Forest Service.   Small booklet.   $2.00
11.   Guide list to plants: Otari Open-air Native Plant Museum.   Soft cover.   $2.00
12.   Manual of the New Zealand Flora.   Cheeseman.   2nd edition.   No dust cover.   Cover slightly worn.   $97.50
13.   Mountain Flowers of NZ.   N M Adams.   Dust cover torn.   $25.00
14.   National Surveillance Pest Plants.   Wellington Regional Council.   Small booklet.   $2.00
15.   Native Plants of the Eastbourne Hills.   DOC.   Booklet – soft cover.   $2.00
16.   Native Plants in New Zealand exotic forests.   Brochure.   2 copies.   $1.00 ea
17.   Natives for your Garden.   G. C. Jackson.   Dust cover.   $10.00
18.   Northern Rata in Wellington Conservancy.   DOC 1989.   $1.00
19.   Otari Nature Trail.   Soft cover.   $2.00
20.   Pest Plant Atlas, Wellington Conservancy excluding the Chatham Islands.   DOC.   Booklet.   $3.00
21.   Pest plant atlas.   Wellington Conservancy excluding the Chatham Islands.   Vol 1.   DOC.   Booklet – soft cover.   $3.00
22.   Places for Plants.   Jacqueline Sparrow.   Soft cover – cover taped.   $5.00
23.   Plants of NZ.   Laing & Blackwell.   1964, 7th edition.   Dust wrapper.   $45.00
24.   Plants of National Conservation Concern in Wellington Conservancy.   DOC 1988.   $2.00
25.   Protection and recovery of the Pygmy Button Daisy.   Recovery Plan.   DOC 2001-2011.   Soft cover.   $2.00
26.   Street Flowers.   Richard Mabey.   Dust wrapper.   $15.00
27.   The Cultivation of New Zealand Plants.   Leonard Cockayne.   Small booklet – hard cover.   $35.00
28.   The Garden.   Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society.   1987.   Soft cover.   $2.00
29.   The Trees of New Zealand.   L. Cockayne and E. Phillips Turner.   Dust wrapper.   $40.00
30.   Time and the Forest.   Peter Hooper.   Soft cover.   $8.00
31.   Tree Culture in New Zealand.   Matthews.   No dust cover.   $35.00
32.   Trees and Shrubs of New Zealand.   Poole and Adams.   Dust cover.   $35.00
33.   What Tree is that?   Stirling Macoboy.   Hard cover, dust cover.   $10.00
34.   Weeds of New Zealand.   F W Hilgendorf.   1926.   No dust cover.   $30.00
35.   Wellington Regional Native Plant Guide.   1999.   Booklet, soft cover.   $3.00
36.   The Breeding Performance of Grey Duck.   $1.00
37.   The Use of Frontal Spot and Crown Feathers in inter and intra specific display by the South Island Robin.   $1.00
38.   Sea Birds found dead in New Zealand in 1974.   Veitch.   $1.00

Otari-Wilton’s Bush report

Summer is well and truly here, producing an immense flush of flowers and foliage compared with November: Chatham Island forget-me-nots, kakabeak, kowhai, clematis and many more brought the gardens to life.   Viewed from the Cockayne lookout, northern rata is beginning to flower in the forest, and Metrosideros perforata is in bud along the Canopy Walkway.

Below the Cockayne lookout we have finished our small parterre-inspired garden.   A parterre is a formal garden with planted beds, edged in stone or tightly clipped hedging, and gravel paths arranged to form a usually symmetrical pattern.   Our parterre has a NZ flavour, with a design centred on the fish-hook shape of the hei matau.   The hei matau has its origins in Maori legend, which holds that the North Island of NZ was once a huge fish that was caught by the great mariner, Maui, using only a woven line and a hook made from his grandmother’s jawbone.   We used Coprosma rhamnoides to outline the hook shape, and planted Hebe topiaria inside the shape, under-planted with the red- leaved groundcover, Gonocarpus aggregatum.   To the left is a small bed of the creeping daisy Anaphalioides trinervis.   Summer growth should make this look a lot tighter.   There is definitely a place for native plants to be used in more formal settings.   I hope this sparks people’s interest.

We put in extra special efforts in November when we were visited by the NZ Gardens Trust to have our title of Garden of National Significance reassessed.   I think they went away pleased.   We were particularly weed-free on their visit, and chuckled when one assessor said ‘Oh!   I think I’ve spotted your only weed’, only to be told that she was looking at Sonchus kirkii – a rare species around the Wellington coast!

In September we ran a very successful Open Day, and a photography competition.   We sold just over 1000 plants in three hours, and announced the three competition winners.   We received 166 photo entries and plan to run another competition next year.

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

Tree of the Month – hinau – Elaeocarpus dentatus

Hinau at 37 Devon Street
Hinau at 37 Devon Street
Hinau was known to be so widespread in Aro Valley that it gave its name to the Pukehinau Flats*: pukehinau is Maori for ‘hill of hinau’.   Unfortunately there are very few hinau in the valley today.   But there is a fine specimen at the path leading to 37 Devon Street: it has had a fraught existence.   Instead of one trunk, it now has six living trunks and two dead ones.   There are some dead branches in the canopy too, from times when it was short of nourishment.   It is growing on a steep bank and is about 8 m tall.   In native forest, hinau can grow up to 20 m, and form part of the canopy of lowland forests throughout Aotearoa / NZ.

Hinau comes into bloom at the end of October.   It has panicles of white flowers with the petals incised at the tips, hence the name Elaeocarpus dentatus: ‘dentatus’ is Latin for toothed.   In some seasons, hinau produce a lot of nectar for bees from which they make a honey, light in colour and flavour.   In autumn, 18 mm, oval, purplish berries form, food for our native birds, in particular kereru / wood pigeons, an important distributor of the seeds.   Not only does hinau take up to twenty years to flower, but the seed can take 3-5 years to germinate.   A spindly hinau seedling can be confused with those of rewarewa, as it has similar leaves 10-15 cm long with wavy margins.

The fruit has a nutritious kernel like an olive, from which Maori once prepared a floury meal, to be baked and eaten as a bread.   Other traditional uses of this tree include the bark from which a black dye was obtained.

Kereru / wood pigeons visit valley occasionally, coming over from Zealandia.   Will they feed on this tree next autumn?

Hinau at 37 Devon Street

Who knows what age this hinau could be?   Is it a chance survivor of the original bush cover of Aro Valley, or from a seedling arising long after the bush was cleared?   Its precarious position on such a steep site suggests it isn’t a planted tree.   When hinau is grown in good soil it makes a beautiful tree, and should be more widely used in street plantings.

BotSoccer Frances Forsyth reports that there is an old hinau, in Waimapihi Reserve, at the end of Holloway Road, Aro Valley.   If readers know of other trees that could have survived the clearing of the original bush cover of Aro Valley, we would be keen to hear about them.   We would be able to raise our own local plants from the seeds for the Aro Valley restoration project that has been going for some years now.   Please email: jbwstace (at)

Julia Stace

* Pukehinau is the original name for the ridge upon which the suburb of Kelburn was built.


Biophilic cities

Wellington City Council has established a ‘biophilic city’ policy team, led by Amber Bill, on secondment until 30 June.   The work programme involves the place of nature in the urban area.   See:

Wellington City Council, 101 Wakefield Street, PO Box 2199, WN.   Phone 04 803 8150 / 021 2278150

Cathy Jones receives Allan Mere Award

To commemorate the bestowing of NZ botany’s highest award, the Allan Mere, to Cathy, president of Nelson Botanical Society, a gathering was organised, preceded by a potluck dinner.   Thirty-six people, including some renowned guests in the botanical and conservation field, were present.   Notable among them were Anthony Wright, Director of Canterbury Museum, and president of the NZ Botanical Society, and Drs Carol West and Jessica Beever of Wellington and Auckland Botanical Societies respectively.

Dr Carol West said the award is given to botanists who make an all-round contribution across the broad field of botany.   Cathy has been the president of Nelson Botanical Society for twelve years, has led many field trips and camps, and mentored many botanical enthusiasts.   Cathy’s artistic talents did not go unnoticed either, as many of her botanical line-drawings have graced the covers of NZ Botanical Society newsletters.   Her knowledge of plants, attention to detail, and advocacy for conservation also led to her winning the award.

Source: Nelson Botanical Society newsletter, October 2012

Loder Cup awarded to Dunedin ecologist

A professional plant ecologist for thirty years with the former DSIR, and then Landcare Research, Dr Ralph Allen has been pivotal in protecting thousands of hectares of native forest, shrublands, and coastal vegetation throughout Otago, Southland, and the Kapiti Coast.

“Dr Allen’s eff orts have inspired others to cherish the native plants and ecosystems around them,” said Ms Wilkinson, Minister of Conservation.

“He has been instrumental in the establishment of several groups that promote the protection of indigenous vegetation, including Ecology Action Otago, and the Otago Branch of Beech Forests Action Committee.

“Dr Allen was the driving force behind the eff orts of the Otago Natural History Trust to establish Orokonui Ecosanctuary, a fenced area of 307 ha near Dunedin, now a secure habitat for native plants and animals.

“Dr Allen was nominated by Otago Conservation Board.   Board chairperson, Abby Smith said Dr Allen’s many contributions to the protection, cultivation and enjoyment of NZ’s indigenous flora deserved recognition.

Dr Allen has published three books and over fifty scientific papers.

The Loder Cup was first awarded in 1926 to encourage and honour New Zealanders who work to investigate, promote, retain and cherish our indigenous flora.

Botanical signage at Zealandia

Botanical signage at Zealandia

Botanical signage at Zealandia We welcome the installation of a plaque on the lawn overlooking the lower Karori Reservoir, acknowledging the use of botanical information, supplied by BotSoc, on botanical interpretation displays in Karori Sanctuary.

Chris Moore

Climbing plants

Check the following web site to learn how climbing plants climb:

Anthony Hill

Proposed quarry in Cobb Valley

If you would like information about a proposed steatite quarry in the Cobb Valley, Kahurangi National Park, check the following link:


Restoration and landscaping at Oruaiti Pa site, Point Dorset, Seatoun

This historic, steep-sided peninsula, lying between Seatoun and Breaker Bay, overlooks the entrance to Wellington Harbour.   We congratulate Wellington City Council’s (WCC’s) Parks and Gardens Department, the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust, assisted by a grant from the Plimmer Bequest, for the successful completion of the joint landscaping and planting project on this site, following extensive consultation with the wider community, via a draft Management Plan.

In early times, Oruaiti Pa site’s strategic features were valued by Maori for defensive and observation purposes.   These are the very same features that the NZ Army later made use of in World War II.   It is therefore ironic, but no surprise, that ancient, pre-European-settlement defensive terraces remain alongside derelict, concrete gun-emplacement structures from the 1940s.

The entire Oruaiti Reserve / Point Dorset site was extremely weedy when earlier this year Council invited us as volunteers, to make a site visit, identify, and advise on, ways to protect, the remaining indigenous vegetation there, during Council’s planned upgrade of the Te Ara o Kupe track system.   Dense pasture grasses and weeds often over a metre tall, comprised the dominant cover which, as well as inhibiting the germination of seeds of indigenous species, made the whole site hazardous, especially on steep, exposed slopes, and places where huge blocks of WWII masonry were lying invisible.   We listed the native plant communities, which include: Melicytus crassifolius*, thick-leaved mahoe; Coprosma propinqua var. propinqua; C. repens, taupata; Ficinia nodosa, wi; Tetragonia implexicoma, kokihi; Hebe stricta var. atkinsonii, koromiko; Muehlenbeckia complexa, pohuehue, Microsorum pustulatum, kowaowao; Asplenium oblongifolium, huruhuruwhenua, and Poa cita, wi, silver tussock.   These taxa comprise an appropriate, recognisable community of indigenous Wellington coastal plants.

*Thick-leaved mahoe is one of the c. 200 plant species of Department of Conservation (DOC) concern in Wellington Conservancy, 33% of which are coastal.   Its Conservation Status is listed as “Declining”.   (Source: NZ Indigenous Vascular Plant Checklist. 2010, NZ Plant Conservation Network).   There are healthy cushions of it scattered throughout the Oruaiti site, often almost invisible under rank weed growth.

On 21 November, we attended the dawn ceremony to mark the restoration of the site of the former Oruaiti Pa.   As we manuhiri climbed to the pa site, the carved pou stood sentinel, silhouetted against the dawn sky.   The assembled tangata whenua were awaiting our arrival, and ceremonial karanga, karakia, whaikorero and waiata followed, in an impressive ceremony At ground level on the pa site, a low, symbolic, concrete waka shape is ‘moored’ at the foot of the pou.   A paving of bold geometric patterns resembling taniko forms the ‘deck’.   Surrounding the waka are dense, massed plantings of Phormium cookianum, Cordyline australis, and Poa cita, an excellent use of locally appropriate species.   After the ceremony, in broad daylight, we were impressed to see how closely the site had been mown, exposing the World War II concrete ruins, and more flights of well-graded timber steps replacing what had been dangerously steep slopes.   Extensive areas had been sprayed and / or cleared of invasive weeds; e.g. Cape ivy, karo, boneseed, tree lupin, gorse and fennel, and set aside for later plantings of appropriate, eco-sourced native species.   We were also impressed by the care taken by WCC, when upgrading the tracks, to avoid damaging the numerous, sprawling, lianoid native plants such as Muehlenbeckia complexa / pohuehue, and native spinach / kokihi.   Visitors to Oruaiti will appreciate the low, sturdy, timber interpretation panels with educative, routed texts, e.g. “Oruaiti is a protected coastal ecosystem.   Important native plant species are being preserved, and revegetation is underway with eco-sourced plants.”   Knowing how easily and rapidly coastal sites become grossly overgrown by adventives, we believe it is essential that Council ensures there will be funding in future Annual Plans to maintain this site as it needs to be.   This must include funds to continue the control of pest animals, including rabbits and stoats.

Barbara Mitcalfe and Chris Horne

Help save Fiordland

Federated Mountain Clubs of NZ Inc has donated $15,000 to the Save Fiordland campaign which is proposing to take legal action should the Minister of Conservation grant concessions for either:
•   the Milford – Dart Tunnel proposal, OR
•   the Snowdon – Mavora monorail, proposed by Fiordland Experience.

Donations can be made to

Azolla filiculoides

I’d be grateful for more specimens of Azolla from the central and southern North Island:

Please forward this message to anyone who might be interested.   Thank you.

Leon Perrie Curator of Botany, Te Papa Tongarewa, PO Box 467, Wellington.   Phone 04 381 7000, leon.perrie (at)

New Waikato Botanical Society web site

Visit the new Waikato Botanical Society web site at:

You are invited to make suggestions for the web site, and submit images.   If you wish to do so, contact Mike Clearwater at: webmaster (at)

Catherine Beard for Waikato Botanical Society

September 2012 News

From the President

Greetings from your president for 2012-13.   Firstly, thanks to Chris Moore for his leadership as president since 2010.   We are fortunate to have many members with a depth and variety of knowledge and experience in running the Society, so that the work does not all fall on a few.   Similarly with botanical experience, we are able to provide an immensely interesting programme of meetings and trips.   It also continues to amaze me the lengths BotSoc goes to in detailed submissions and advocacy for education about and preservation of our natural indigenous environment, and the respect that our submissions have with the receiving organisations.   So BotSoc is in good heart, but it is up to us as the membership to continue to provide support and to participate.   Please let the committee know if you have any suggestions, or area where you would like to help.

One of the topics discussed at the AGM was subscriptions.   It is with regret that we have to increase them this year, and signal a likely increase next year.   This comes after several years with no increases, and yet the Society’s main costs, the printing and distribution of the newsletter and bulletin, continue to rise.   One of the areas where you can help reduce BotSoc’s costs is to elect to receive your newsletter electronically.   We will notify you by e-mail so you can download the newsletter from the web site.   It is surprising that in this age of computers and fast broadband, that only a quarter of our membership choose this delivery option.   Please contact Rodney, our treasurer, if you can help in this way.

With this newsletter are details of our annual summer camp.   These are always enjoyable trips with an opportunity for those interested in NZ’s botany at all levels of experience to immerse themselves in the outdoors for ten days and share memorable experiences and botanical learning.   Please signal your interest early so as not to be disappointed.

Richard Herbert


Application to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to release two weevils as biocontrol agents for Darwin’s barberry (Berberis darwinii)

We advised the EPA that we had no particular concerns, but suggested a precautionary approach of a gradual release from containment.   The biocontrol results from the weevil larvae feeding on reproductive parts of barberry plants; the adults do little eating.   If the release is successful, the weevil larvae will reduce the spread of Darwin’s barberry.   Unfortunately they are not expected to have any impact on the growth rate or survival of existing infestations.   Environment Southland submitted the application on behalf of the National Biocontrol Collective which comprises 13 regional councils and DOC.

Options For Local Government Reform In Wellington

Over the last few years, Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) has done some great work to protect the region’s indigenous biodiversity.   This was the main reason we voted for Option 1, the shared services model, in Wellington City Council’s recent consultation about structural options for local government reform in the Wellington region.   All other options resulted in the disestablishment of GWRC.

Porirua City Council’s Proposed Pauatahanui Judgeford Structure Plan

Porirua City Council (PCC) is preparing a non-statutory plan to guide the development of this area over the next 30 years.   PCC is committed to reducing sediment inputs into Pauatahanui Inlet through catchment management strategies and revised controls on subdivisions.   Other considerations include landscape values, heritage, landform, transportation, and services.   We asked PCC to add indigenous biodiversity to the list, and suggested ways they could work towards this.

Bev Abbott

Wellington Botanical Society 2012 / 13 committee

At the 73rd Annual General Meeting, held on 20 August 2012, the following were elected:

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

President’s Report, 73rd Annual General Meeting of the Wellington Botanical Society


•   The excellent summer trip to Taranaki with visits to Egmont National Park, several reserves and Bill Clarkson’s garden.
•   The 2011 AP Druce Memorial Lecture given by Carol West.   The title of her talk was “Working with Tony Druce at Taita from 1984 to 1987”.

Special thanks

This AGM completes my two-year term as president.   I have enjoyed this role and I wish to give thanks to all those who have assisted me along the way.   It will be my pleasure to continue serving the society in my new role as trip leader for our forthcoming summer trip to Arthur’s Pass.


There was a slight increase in membership over the year.   Currently it comprises 121 Ordinary Members, 44 Country Members, 66 Group Members, 39 Life Members, and 5 Student Members.   This brings the total membership to 275.

During the year seven members died.   One was the life member, Nancy Williams.   There were also five resignations but these were more than offset by the acquisition of twenty new members.   No non-paying members were struck off but twenty-one are likely to be before the next Bulletin goes to post.


The main field trip of the year was our summer excursion to Taranaki.   We stayed at the very comfortable Vertical Horizons facility near Inglewood.   We had a choice of bunk-houses, cabins, or tent sites.   We were fortunate to obtain on-site catering.

Some of the places we visited included Gordon Park Scenic Reserve, Ratapihipihi Scenic Reserve, North Egmont, Rotokare Reserve, Bill Clarkson’s garden, Huatoki Scenic Reserve and Tupari Reserve, Pouakai Range and Ahukawakawa Swamp, and Manganui Ski-field.

A highlight for me was the Potaema Swamp which features huge rimu, kamahi, and swamp maire.   An understorey of a wide range of ferns added to the enjoyment of the area.   The view across the wetland to Mount Taranaki was stunning.

In addition to the Taranaki trip there were a further 11 field trips in the Greater Wellington area, (This total excludes the Makara Hill field trip which was cancelled owing to bad weather).   As with all our field trips, species lists were prepared of the native and exotic vegetation seen–these are an invaluable resource in tracking the health of local ecosystems.

Two workbees were held at Te Marua Bush.   (The Society works in partnership with the Greater Wellington Regional Council, and Upper Hutt Forest and Bird, to tend this forest remnant in Kaitoke Regional Park).

A detailed list of the trips held during the year is shown elsewhere - an average of sixteen members attended each of the local field trips and work bees.   (This is up from last year’s average of eleven).


Ten meetings were held during the year.   (As usual there were no meetings in December or January).   The average attendance at meetings was thirty-eight, similar to last year.   The best-attended meeting was in March, on the Kermadec Archipelago, by Peter de Lange, Scientific Officer – Threatened Plants, DOC.

A detailed list of the meetings held during the year is shown elsewhere.


•   Newsletter: Three newsletters were produced during the year; one each in October 2011, December 2011, and June 2012.   They were ably edited by Chris Horne with production 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.
•   Website: Richard Herbert has been doing an excellent job in maintaining our website:
•   No bulletin was published this past year but Bulletin No. 54 is due in the next month or two.   (It should be noted that the Bulletin is published periodically, not annually).

Community Outreach
•   The Society provided judges for last year’s NIWA Science Fair.
•   Our newsletters were distributed not only to members but to related organisations, libraries, and Citizen Advice Bureaux.
•   Our field trips, which are open to the public, are advertised in the Wellington Glean Report.
•   Several Zealandia guides took up our invitation to attend our Three Karori Reserves field trip.


The Society lodged submissions on a wide range of statutory and non-statutory processes during the year to ensure that decision-makers did not overlook the implications of their decisions for NZ’s plants and ecosystems.   More details about these submissions can be found in the Society’s newsletters.   Some key examples included:
•   To DOC, Southland, on two major tourism proposals, a tunnel and a monorail, to provide alternative ways of travelling between Queenstown and Milford Sound.
•   To the Select Committee considering the proposed Game Animal Council Bill.
•   To Wellington City Council on its draft Long-Term Plan and its Eco-city proposal.   The Council was considering changing the governance and management structure for Zealandia, Wellington Zoo, Otari-Wilton’s Bush and the Botanic Garden.   Subsequently the Council abandoned its proposal.


Several awards were made by the Society during the year as follows:

•   Jubilee Award for 2012 was shared between Marcia Dale who was awarded $800 and Victor Antón Valadés who was awarded $1800.   Marcia is to paint two pictures with a botanical theme, and Victor is “identifying and analysing the variables involved in the low performance of forest re-vegetation sites in the Wellington Peninsula”.
•   Patrick Kavanagh was awarded the $4000 Arnold and Ruth Dench New Zealand Botanical Award.   Patrick is working on the evolutionary trends of plants on islands.   The study includes plants growing on the Chatham Islands.
•   The Society made awards in 2011 to students at the School of Biological Sciences as follows:
- Patrick Kavanagh $600
- Anne Wietheger $621
- Karl Graeme Yager $720
- Emma Gibbin $600
- Maheshini Mawalagedera $600
- Stefanie Pontasch $500
- Thomas Krueger $600.
(Some funds for the student awards came from money unclaimed from previous awards and held by Victoria University.)
•   The NIWA Science Fair Prize was won 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.

The committee

The committee met six times during the year August 2011 to August 2012.   Each meeting was held in a member’s home.   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 keeping our finances in order.

Our guest speakers and field trips were meticulously organised by Sunita Singh and Chris Horne.   Richard Herbert has kept our web site up to date.   Thanks also to Eleanor Burton, Mick Parsons, and Carol West for their contributions during the year.

Bev Abbott was co-opted onto the committee as Submissions Coordinator.


Thanks and acknowledgements are due to many other people, including:
•   Jeremy Rolfe for formatting the newsletter and bulletin.
•   Leon Perrie for editorship of the bulletin.
•   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 look forward to most).
•   Mick Parsons and Sheelagh Leary for a superbly run summer trip to Taranaki.
•   Darea Sherratt for raising money for the Jubilee Fund by selling the Otari-Wilton’s Bush greeting cards.
•   All those members who helped raise funds for the Society by donating plants for sale, or books for auction.
•   All our guest speakers and the members who made Plant of the Month presentations.

Chris Moore, President

Treasurer’s report

Accounts for the year ended 30 June 2012

The audited accounts for the financial year ended 30 June 2012 follow.   They show a small surplus on the normal operations of the Society, although no contribution was made to the cost of the bulletin during the year.   Printing and stationery is some $200 more than in the June 2011 year, although still less than the year ended June 2010.   Postage costs show a large increase over the previous year, partly because of price increases, but mainly because they include the distribution costs for the bulletin in the year just ended.

Interest coming to hand during the year was much less than the previous year.   Being a cash, rather than an accrual account, interest receipts depend on the timing of the maturity of time deposit investments.   Currently we have an average interest return of 4.85% on invested funds making the average accrued investment income per year of $2,200 for the General Account.

The Society has tried to maintain grants at a similar level to previous years.   The slightly lower level of expenditure on the Jubilee Award compared with the previous year is due to one grant not yet being fully taken up.   Student Field Grants from funds held by the Society were less than the previous year.   This was more than made up for by using grant monies that had been passed to the Victoria University Foundation over recent years but that had not been taken up by students.

Donations to the Jubilee Award Fund during the year were more than a thousand dollars less than last year, whilst the sale of books and plants remain at much the same level.

Two accounts (The Tom Moss Student Award in Bryology and John Child Workshop Contingency Fund) record transaction of funds the Society holds for the Bryology and Lichen Workshop group.

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.   The University allows the Society to use the room for our monthly meetings free of charge.

Subscriptions for the year ended 30 June 2013

Subscriptions for the year ended June 2013 are now due.   The yellow invoice is included with the hard copy newsletter, or will be in the post for those members who get their newsletter by e-mail.

At the AGM it was agreed that subscriptions would rise by $5 for each type of membership, except that for students.   This would still leave a projected deficit of $2,000 on the General Account for the year.

There was a suggestion at the AGM that the rebate for timely payment should be dropped.   This was referred to the committee.   The committee are reluctant to do this as it would, effectively, amount to a $10 increase over the previous year’s subscription and this might lead to a loss of members.   However if you feel you can afford to forgo the rebate then the Society’s capital will be that much better off at the end of the year.   Hence the subscription for the year ended 30 June 2013 is:

Ordinary membership $35
Country $30
Group / family $40
Student $10
(Reducible by $5 if paid before 30 November 2012)

Rodney Lewington, Treasurer

Cathy Jones honoured

We congratulate Nelson BotSoc president, Cathy Jones, winner of the NZ BotSoc 2012 Allan Mere Award, “for her all-round contribution to botany in New Zealand as an artist, teacher, conservationist and leader of regional botanical societies”.   Wellington BotSoc nominated Cathy, with Nelson BotSoc seconding the proposal.   Auckland and Rotorua botanical societies supported the nomination, as did her former DOC colleagues.

Cathy’s excellent illustrations of native plants have featured on the covers of many editions of the NZ BotSoc newsletter.   Her striking paintings frequently feature endemic plants.   Cathy has taught and mentored botsoccers and DOC staff in plant identification and conservation, and has led several threatened plant recovery groups.   Wherever she happened to be living, Cathy took an active role in the local botanical society by organising and leading field trips.

Carol West and Chris Moore

Conservation of Brachyglottis kirkii var. kirkii

Staff from Otari recently made a trip with Greater Wellington Regional Council staff to collect Brachyglottis kirkii var. kirkii (kohurangi), which is critically threatened in the Wellington region.

Brachyglottis kirkii
Brachyglottis kirkii var. kirkii.   Photo: Jeremy Rolfe.
B. kirkii var. kirkii is usually epiphytic, sometimes terrestrial, growing to about 1.5 m tall, and is endemic to the North Island, where it is scattered throughout.   It is listed as in Serious Decline.   It is threatened by browsing possums, goats and deer.   There are records of it occurring in the Karori and Wadestown areas dating back to the era of John Buchanan and Bernard Aston who recorded it in Wilton’s Bush in 1908.   Sadly none has been seen in the area for many years.

We’ve been collecting kohurangi since 2009, visiting two areas in the Wellington region, spotting fewer than 20 plants in all.   Not all plants were large enough to propagate from, but several dozen cuttings have been taken.   We’ve had great success with cuttings with nearly 100% strike rates.   Seed strike has been very poor, which has taken us by surprise as many daisies propagate easily from seed.   The really disappointing part has been the poor persistence of the plants after being planted out.

We suspect that the medium we first planted them into was too wet, so will try a drier medium and also try to plant specimens as epiphytes, directly onto trees.   Several will be planted onto trees along the canopy walkway at Otari, and Raewyn Empson is keen to try the same at Zealandia.   Several will be returned to the sites we collected them from.

A great aspect of this work is the collaboration of local, regional and central government batting for kohurangi.   We all have a part to play with plant conservation in the Wellington region, and look forward to continuing this work with other species.

Rewi Elliot, Curator / Manger, Otari Native Botanic Garden (rewi.elliot (at)

Percy Scenic Reserve news

Winter planting in the reserve, and along Petone foreshore, and re-potting of the collection plants, is nearly complete.

Some gardens have been overhauled, with the addition of new accessions from various nurseries.   Liza Whalley redesigned the woodland triangle garden at the rear of the duck pond, now planted with Pseudowintera colorata, Alseuosmia pusilla, and Elatostema rugosum.   The Stilbocarpa polaris in this garden has thrived for at least two years, next to the threatened mazus from the Far North, Mazus novaezelandiae subsp. impolitus f. hirtus.

Tree-reduction work to decrease shading of lawns, solve drainage problems, and improve sight-lines, has been implemented and will continue through Spring and beyond.   Removal of old and hazardous trees will allow more airflow and new areas for planting in 2013.   Turf renovations are about to begin with ‘vibra-mole’ work, and under-sowing, to try to solve drainage problems.

A notable tree at Avalon, weeping pagoda, Styphonolobium japonica ‘Pendula’ has been propped up on a limb support for about a year.   Scions were taken from the current season’s growth, when dormant, and sent to Appleton’s Nursery in Nelson, for grafting on to stock, and the production of about 20 trees for planting in Hutt City, and possibly other botanic gardens.

Jill Broome, Plant Collections Supervisor, Percy Scenic Reserve

New propagator at Percy Scenic Reserve

I joined BotSoc in July, and though I have met some of you at evening meetings, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself to you all.

I grew up in the Bay of Plenty among market gardening, forestry and orcharding families, so horticulture is part of who I am.   From 2005 I worked in several production nurseries in the North Island, while undertaking university study, on and off.

Falling in love with the propagation of native plants at Taupo Native Plant Nursery, I was awarded the International Plant Propagaters’ Society (IPPS) Young Propagaters’ Scholarship in 2009.   This enabled me to go to Hobart for the Australasian Conference where I spoke about the research trials I undertook using honey as a rooting compound for NZ native plants.

Following Taupo, I worked at Oratia Native Plant Nursery, in Waitakere, West Auckland.   It was exciting to work there during the release of Parahebe jovellanoides (originally known as Parahebe “Bamboozle” because its identity was a complete mystery) and to be involved in the propagation and habitat trials for this newly discovered plant.   I had the opportunity to work closely with, and learn, from great plants-men including Geoff Davidson, Peter de Lange and Philip Smith (O2 Landscapes), encouraging my love of investigating and learning!   During this time I was also involved with Landcare Research, assisting in trials of the propagation of native revegetation species.

I returned to study in 2011 and graduated from Massey University in May this year, with a Bachelor of Applied Science, in Horticulture.   To round off a year of personal and professional achievement, I competed in the Young Horticulturalist of the Year (Amenity Sector) in July, held at Wellington Botanic Garden, coming second over-all!

I am now working with Jill Broome at Percy Scenic Reserve, sharing the responsibilities of the collection in a successional role.   I have been here since February, and have been involved in some BIG changes and developments!   I am really enjoying the plants, and the work, and look forward to the future of the reserve with big vision and passion.

Parahebe jovellanoides
Parahebe jovellanoides seeds from a plant in cultivation at Percy Scenic Reserve.   Photo: Jeremy Rolfe.
As the propagator at the reserve, I am happy to share that we have had forty-nine Brachyglottis turneri plantlets returned to the wild by DOC Whanganui.   They arrived at the reserve at Easter as a small population on an old log, and with careful separation, I managed to get them to become individuals!   I hope they will thrive and help to bulk up the natural population.

In other propagating interest, Jeremy Rolfe has photographed seeds that were produced by our Parahebe jovellanoides display plant.   Such intricate little things!

I look forward to meeting everyone in the near future!   Happy planting for Spring!

Liza Whalley, Percy Scenic Reserve

Puangiangi Island

As many of you know, after an announcement at an evening meeting, we have bought Puangiangi Island in the Marlborough Sounds, through our charitable trust.   This is quite a departure for the Trust as it has been involved only in projects on public conservation lands so far, but we have been seeking a bigger project and this is it.

Puangiangi Island
Puangiangi Island.   2010 Photo: Will Parsons, Driftwood cotours.
Puangiangi, 63 ha, or 2.5 times the size of Matiu / Somes, is part of the Rangitoto group, off the northeast coast of D’Urville Island, in western Cook Strait.   All four islands are separated by narrow channels, and in the “island-hopping” sense, the Rangitotos are only 880 m from D’Urville, which is not pest-free.

Our aim for the island is its restoration to the pre-human ecology of a Cook Strait seabird island, in the mould of Takapourewa / Stephens Island.   This will involve a lot of work with the vegetation cover and the animal species that should be present, and with keeping rodents, stoats and other invaders away, forever.   We also hope to assist with the Rangitotos as a whole - they were rendered rat-free in 1998 through a brodifacoum drop organised by DOC’s Peter Gaze.   This required the co-operation of the Ngati Koata families who own the more southerly Tinui and its southern islet, DOC which administers the northerly Wakaterepapanui, and Puangiangi owner, Ross Webber.   Tinui has been uninhabited for many years (Wakaterepapanui always so), but Mr Webber lived on Puangiangi full-time and consented to his sheep being barged off for six months during the poison drop and aftermath.

We were fortunate to meet Ross Webber and his wife, Jean, in Auckland in May.   Ross had worked a series of jobs to save money for a farm of his own, and happened upon the island in 1957, when he was only 27.   He lived there alone for nearly 50 years before selling it in 2004, going on a world cruise, getting married, and moving to the big city to be close to extended family.

Ross is a conservationist from way back, and he left the island in a pretty good state.   He placed a third of the island in a QEII Open Space Covenant before he left.   It was only the rats he could not suppress by himself.   Invading weka, incompatible with burrow-nesting seabirds, were quickly dispatched.   A legacy of his self-sufficient lifestyle, Ross’ apple and plum orchard survives, (now freshly pruned; something helped itself to golden delicious apples between our May and July visits), along with remnants of his vineyard (just hanging on), shelter (macrocarpa, pines) and ornamental (pohutukawa and possibly camellia) plantings.   Some sheep remain.

Pines are spreading and we are removing them, but macrocarpas have established along the cliffs and are possibly the worst plant pest.   We will poison them in Spring by drilling and treating with metsulfuron methyl, and by helicopter spraying for the inaccessible ones.   We haven’t found the gorse and broom mentioned in one report.   Tree lucerne is well established but it is providing good kereru food, and is host to many enormous Ileostylus micranthus, so it will stay.   Brush wattle will need to be eliminated and the lone pohutukawa we have found so far is for the chop.   About a third of the island is in rough pasture with few weed species, except kikuyu near the landing beaches.   That may stay until it is eventually over-topped.   Tauhinu is pushing through rapidly, but any broad-leaved seedlings are being munched by the sheep, which are also eating out the understorey of the forest remnants.

We are very fortunate that Puangiangi remained rat-free during a period of instability between Ross’s departure and our arrival.   Common geckos are perhaps the best indicator of this, having been described as very sparse at the time of rat eradication, yet now there in their thousands.   A biosecurity and pest animal plan is being implemented now.   The sheep are going to go, consistent with animal welfare considerations, and the speed at which we can eat them, and we have received a permit to catch and remove weka, which have swum to the island in the interval since 2004.   We caught a pair on our last trip.   They were boxed up and taken by boat and car inland of French Pass for release.   There may be about twenty.

The big drivers of a naturally functioning island ecosystem of the type we want to re-instate are burrow-nesting seabirds, with the nutrients they bring in from the sea, their burrowing altering the soil and vegetation, and their little lizard friends which share their burrows.   We were very keen to rediscover the colony of sooty shearwaters recorded in 1998, but we had no success when we bush-bashed down to the site in May.   Our partner in crime, Andy Lowe of the Cape Sanctuary project in Hawke’s Bay, may have had better luck just now though, and we hope they are hanging on despite the weka.   We have ordered two seabird speaker systems from DOC, for installation after we have caught all the weka.

Apart from seabirds, the island should be supporting the full range of lizards found in this region and we will prepare translocation proposals with our technical adviser, Peter Gaze.   He has just retired from DOC and we are very fortunate to secure his services.   We will also look at reintroducing land birds.   The island is ready now for kakariki and toutouwai / South Island robin, with perhaps South Island tieke later.   We hope that korimako, tui and kaka will self-introduce.   Kereru, tauhou / silvereye, karearea / falcon, kahu / harrier, riroriro / greywarbler, ruru / morepork and pihoihoi / pipit are already present, along with the usual range of introduced passerines.   There is a good population of invertebrates, including tree weta and tenebrionid / darkling beetle, and we expect it will be suitable for giant weta, Cook Strait click beetle, flax weevil, and possibly speargrass weevil.

On the vegetation side, there are three sizeable remnants of coastal broadleaf forest totalling perhaps 20 ha.   It’s exactly as you would expect and just like walking in the same type of forest around Wellington city.   The canopy is dominated by kohekohe, and hinau, titoki, tawa, karaka, and nikau are also present.   About the only tree obviously missing is miro.   The typical range of smaller trees and shrubs is there, but the real standout is a big population of fierce lancewood / Pseudopanax ferox, of a form said to be different from that in common cultivation.   There are extensive patches of manuka and kanuka, but nothing like on Tinui, which is utterly dominated by this type of forest.   Wakaterepapanui has been mostly coastal flax / Phormium cookianum but is now developing into an impenetrable tangle of shrubland.   All the Rangitotos were burned in the more distant past for farming and it is interesting how they have developed in different ways since then.   Puangiangi is said to have the more fertile soils, and that may be why it has the more diverse forests and shrublands.   Other notables are the aforementioned Ileostylus (also on Coprosma spp), Korthalsella salicornioides, Sophora molloyi, rengarenga, Anemanthele lessoniana, Melicytus obovatus agg., and some big Streblus banksii.   The Rangitotos have been surveyed briefly at various times, but a comprehensive re-survey is on the to-do list.   We are undecided whether to plant the pasture / tauhinu areas, or allow nature to take its course.   The forest understorey should recover rapidly after the sheep go.

Puangiangi is steeped in maritime history, with Kupe, Tasman, Cook, D’Urville all passing and / or anchoring nearby.   There is said to be a plaque on the southern end commemorating Tasman, although Ross Webber never found it.   Today it really is in the middle of nowhere; it takes a combination of ferry, car, charter boat and wading ashore to get there from Wellington.   The far-sighted decision to rid it of rats distinguishes it big-time from a useless piece of rock, and we are very fortunate to have stewardship for the time being.

Barry Dent and Sue Freitag

Project Kaka

After an aerial 1080 pest control operation in late 2010, pest numbers are down and native birds are beginning to bounce back in Tararua Forest Park.

Project Kaka zone
Project Kaka zone.
The operation, co-ordinated by the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Animal Health Board (AHB), aims to restore forest health, boost native bird populations, and protect Wairarapa cattle and deer herds from bovine TB.

Intensive monitoring by DOC, AHB, Landcare Research and Greater Wellington Regional Council before and after the operation has shown significant drops in pest numbers and increasing populations of some native bird species.   Although still early days, DOC’s Dr James Griffiths said that signs for some bird species were promising, “Counts have shown that rifleman, whitehead and kakariki have increased since the operation, compared with the non-treatment area where no 1080 was applied”.

These species are all able to breed quickly but are also vulnerable to predation, “In this respect they are like canaries in a coal-mine, giving us an early indication if pest control is working”.

A decrease in possum and rat numbers, which have stayed at low levels for the two years since the operation, is also encouraging he says.   “We are making a major investment in monitoring to assess the long-term results of this aerial 1080 operation on predator species.   If we can keep predator numbers down, it gives native bird populations an opportunity to breed successfully”.

“Stoat numbers are also at low levels, but we haven’t detected a significant change as they were at low levels before the operation.   If stoat numbers had been high before it we would have expected to see a significant drop now”.

The operation was part of Project Kaka, a 10-year DOC programme aimed at restoring the health of a 22,000-ha belt of Tararua Forest Park between Otaki Forks and Holdsworth in the Wairarapa.

“As we collect more data over the 10-year term of the project, the effect of 1080 on forest birds and pest animals in Tararua Forest Park will become clearer.   We may also start to see increases in the numbers of slower-breeding species such as kaka”.

Rat, possum and stoat numbers will be controlled every three years in the Project Kaka zone through the aerial application of 1080, with the next operation scheduled for spring 2013.

Project Kaka aerial pest control efforts are supported by community volunteers trapping at Donnelly Flat.   We hope that sustained pest control in the Tararua Range will allow for the re-introduction of rare species such as whio / blue duck, robin and kiwi.   If you are interested in volunteering to help the team with pest control work, please contact volunteer-wairarapa (at) or phone 06 377 0700.

A short video about Project Kaka is now available on the AHB YouTube Channel


DOC: Kerry Swadling 04 470 8416
AHB: Alan Dicks 04 474 7166

Muriel Fisher
Muriel Fisher cuts the cake at the Wellington BotSoc jubilee dinner.

Muriel Fisher QSM, 1916 – 2012

We are sad to report that Muriel, a foundation member of Wellington Botanical Society, died on 23 July, on the eve of her 97th birthday.   Muriel, one of the most respected experts on New Zealand’s native plants, co-wrote Gardening with New Zealand Plants, Shrubs and Trees 1970, which marked a turning point in New Zealanders’ attitudes to growing native plants.

Muriel was active in BotSoc until she moved to Auckland.   She has remained in contact since then.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Muriel and husband Bill Fisher established what became Fernglen Native Plant Garden, with more than 700 native plants.

Besides several editions of Gardening with New Zealand Plants, Shrubs and Trees, Muriel wrote, or co-wrote, many other books and articles among which was New Zealand Ferns in Your Garden.

In 1989 we were delighted to have her attend the Society’s Jubilee celebrations and to cut the cake.

Even at the age of 95, we heard she showed no signs of slowing down.   The management of Patrick Ferry House, her retirement home on Auckland’s North Shore, invited Muriel to provide her gardening expertise to a new landscaping project to provide residents with a new outlook on life.

Rodney Lewington, Darea Sherratt and Trilepidea 105, August 2012, NZ Plant Conservation Network.

NIWA Science and Technology Fair – BotSoc prize award

On 30 August we visited the NIWA Science and Technology Fair at Victoria University.   As judges from BotSoc we looked at, and assessed, those entries that we considered had a botanical, especially native, flavour.

The Society’s $150 award was made to Ciaran Sim, an 11-year old pupil at Wellesley College.   His entry was entitled “Plants vs Bacteria”.   The aim of his experiment was to “test extracts of New Zealand plants to see if they can kill bacteria or slow their growth”.   He obtained bacteria from his mouth and from a worm farm.   The plant extracts were obtained using either water or alcohol–the alcohol being the most successful as it killed off any bacteria already present in the extract.   He tested bracken, manuka, kanuka, ngaio, kowhai, pine, pukatea, eucalyptus, cabbage tree and lancewood.   The pine extract using alcohol was the most effective at killing bacteria, while pukatea, eucalyptus, manuka and lancewood all inhibited bacterial growth.

Ciaran’s exhibit was well researched and presented and it is clear that he wants to continue his research.   The results were skilfully and thoroughly documented and his enthusiasm for the subject was infectious.   We had no hesitation in granting him the Society’s award.

Chris Moore and Rodney Lewington, judges

Nancy Williams 1921 – 2012

Nancy, a life member of BotSoc since 1972, died on 18 April, aged 91.   She is survived by her husband, Ted, and among other children, daughter Julia, also a BotSoc member.

The daughter of a Baptist Minister, Nancy was brought up in Hawke’s Bay.   Ted and she met in Whanganui when both worked for the Department of Native Affairs.   They married shortly after the start of WWII.   Returning from the war, Ted’s work with the Department of Native Affairs saw them moving about the North Island as they raised a family.   Their return to Wellington in 1969 enabled Ted to pursue his interest in botany through University Extension Classes.   That led to him joining BotSoc in 1969.

Ted tells us that Nancy’s first tramp was a trip to Lake Waikaremoana–wearing a pair of hired boots, staying in empty huts, hearing the deer grazing outside, and having to skirt a flooded river does not sounds the ideal introduction.   However Nancy was hooked and she joined BotSoc.   They were regulars on field trips and at monthly meetings.   Their first entry in Tony Druce’s Trip Book is for Easter 1972.   They are there until the last entry in the Trip Book, to Corner Creek, Palliser Bay, in February 1994, and that was by no means their last outing with BotSoc.

Despite her small size, Nancy kept up with the rest of BotSoc.   She did have a little trouble in the 1975 December “shake down” trip to the Waima River.   Some pools in Brian Boru Creek’s gorge would have been over her head–she was carried through these on Oliver Druce’s back.

Only in recent years did ill-health prevent Nancy from attending BotSoc talks and field trips.   Until that time she was a stalwart on trips and camps.   She joined in the sessions at the end of the day when collected specimens were shown and shared.   Nancy was not so much the camp mother but, as Ted puts it, the camp housewife–quietly getting done the things that needed to be done.

Rodney Lewington and Darea Sherratt

Books for sale

The following books, mostly donated by Stan Butcher, are for sale, with the proceeds going to the Jubilee Award Fund.   If you are able to collect and pay for the book(s) of your choice at a BotSoc meeting, please do so.   The following prices do NOT include packing and postage.   We will invoice you for the cost of books we post to you.   Please make cheques payable to Wellington Botanical Society.

1.   A Key to the Genera of New Zealand Ferns and Allied Plants.   Booklet.   $4.00
2.   An Introduction to Plant Biology.   Weier, Stocking and Barbour.   $7.00
3.   Australia’s Wild Flowers.   Michael Morcambe.   $8.00
4.   BotSoc Bulletins 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52.   $4.00 ea.
5.   BotSoc Songbook.   Soft cover.   $5.00
6.   Butterfly Gardening.   The Xerxes Society, Smithsonian Institute.   $4.00
7.   Conservation of Plant Species and Habitats – a symposium held at 15th Pacific Science Congress, Dunedin, February 1983.   $2.50
8.   Establishing Shelter in Canterbury with Nature Conservation in mind.   Environment Canterbury.   Small booklet.   $2.00
9.   Government Approval of West Coast and Southland Beech Forest Utilisation Proposals.   NZ Forest Service.   Small booklet.   $2.00
10.   Guide list to plants: Otari Open-air Native Plant Museum.   Soft cover.   $2.00
11.   Manual of the New Zealand Flora.   Cheeseman.   2nd edition.   No dust cover.   Cover slightly worn.   $97.50
12.   Mountain Flowers of NZ.   N M Adams.   Dust cover torn.   $25.00
13.   National Surveillance Pest Plants.   Wellington Regional Council.   Small booklet.   $2.00
14.   Native Plants of the Eastbourne Hills.   DOC.   Booklet – soft cover.   $2.00
15.   Native Plants in New Zealand exotic forests.   Brochure.   2 copies.   $1.00 ea.
16.   Natives for your Garden.   G. C. Jackson.   Dust cover.   $10.00
17.   Northern Rata in Wellington Conservancy.   DOC 1989.   $1.00
18.   Otari Nature Trail.   Soft cover.   $2.00
19.   Pest Plant Atlas, Wellington Conservancy excluding the Chatham Islands.   DOC.   Booklet.   $3.00
20.   Pest plant atlas.   Wellington Conservancy excluding the Chatham Islands.   Vol 1.   DOC.   Booklet – soft cover.   $3.00
21.   Places for Plants.   Jacqueline Sparrow.   Soft cover – cover taped.   $5.00
22.   Plants of NZ.   Laing ⊃ Blackwell.   1964, 7th edition.   Dust wrapper.   $45.00
23.   Plants of National Conservation Concern in Wellington Conservancy.   DOC 1988.   $2.00
24.   Protection and recovery of the Pygmy Button Daisy.   Recovery Plan.   DOC 2001-2011.   Soft cover.   $2.00
25.   Street Flowers.   Richard Mabey.   Dust wrapper.   $15.00
26.   The Cultivation of New Zealand Plants.   Leonard Cockayne.   Small booklet – hard cover.   $35.00
27.   The Garden.   Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society.   1987.   Soft cover.   $2.00
28.   The Trees of New Zealand.   L. Cockayne and E. Phillips Turner.   Dust wrapper.   $40.00
29.   Time and the Forest.   Peter Hooper.   Soft cover.   $8.00
30.   Tree Culture in New Zealand.   Matthews.   No dust cover.   $35.00
31.   Trees and Shrubs of New Zealand.   Poole and Adams.   Dust cover.   $35.00
32.   What Tree is That.   Stirling Macoboy.   Hard cover, dust cover.   $10.00
33.   Weeds of New Zealand.   F W Hilgendorf.   1926.   No dust cover.   $30.00
34.   Wellington Regional Native Plant Guide.   1999.   Booklet, soft cover.   $3.00
35.   The Breeding Performance of Grey Duck.   $1.00
36.   The Use of Frontal Spot and Crown Feathers in inter and intra specific display by the South Island Robin.   $1.00
37.   Sea Birds found dead in New Zealand in 1974.   Veitch.   $1.00

DOC Kapiti Wellington Area

The DOC Kapiti Wellington Area encompasses Wellington, Hutt Valley and the Kapiti Coast, including the western sides of Rimutaka Forest Park and Tararua Forest Park.   More than 40 staff work in the Area on a range of conservation programmes.

•   Robert Stone – Area Manager
•   Peter Simpson – Programme Manager Biodiversity (Assets)
•   Colin Giddy – Programme Manager Biodiversity (Threats)
•   Matt Barnett – Acting Programme Manager Community Relations
•   Shaun Dunning – Programme Manager Visitor & Historic Assets
•   Stacey Perkins – Programme Manager Service / CITES

Carter Scenic Reserve die-back

The die-back of large trees in the reserve, visited by BotSoc and the local care group at Easter, is alarming at first sight.   It appears to have occurred at least twenty-five years ago, and various causes have been proposed.   These include alterations upstream to the flow of Waikoukou Creek that feeds the main wetland, alterations in the bed of the Ruamahanga River at the other end of the wetland, willows damming the Waikoukou, and intervention by the local Taniwha.   Another view is that John Carter bequested the land because it was typical of the open patchwork forest in Wairarapa, meaning that the main wetland looks now as it did 150 years ago when he first saw it, and very likely for the previous 1000 years.   The death of these trees is part of the natural ebb and flow associated with such a wetland.   Trees are stressed as water levels rise and fall, and also there are frosts, floods and droughts to contend with.

As for the future, DOC has developed an excellent restoration plan for the reserve, and a volunteer group is being formed to do weeding and planting as detailed in the plan.

Pat McLean

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 had it photocopied and called it A. P. (Tony) Druce’s Trip Book.   This made it more accessible and it has been reprinted once already.   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.

The cost of re-printing was $22.50 / copy for the 88 pages.   Post and packaging cost $3.50, making a total of $26.00.   More books were printed than the orders received, so there are still some available.   Order from WBS, Box 10 412, WN 6143, bj_clark (at)

Dune Restoration Trust of NZ

The trust has a new web site, including a handy calculator for planting projects: see, click on resources, then on planting calculator.

Contact Tim Park, parkecology (at)


Species lists, uncommon and rare plants

The Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) Environmental Monitoring and Investigations team are charged with gathering all the indigenous biota information for the Wellington region.   The aim is to identify special places, and compile a database of species’ distribution records.

We need your species lists and notes of unusual, uncommon and rare species found in the region.   Please send your observations to: owen.spearpoint (at)

Owen Spearpoint, Biodiversity Monitoring Advisor GWRC - Te Pane Matua Taiao, 1056 Fergusson Drive, PO Box 40847, Upper Hutt 5140.   T: 04 8304418 mob 027 285 8083,

Telopea going electronic

Telopea, the journal of plant systematics, produced by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, is discontinuing hard copy print issues.   Elizabeth Brown says that electronic copies are available on:   The change in format will allow them to circulate scientific information rapidly.   Readers are invited to consider using Telopea to publish research.

Rodney Lewington

June 2012 News

From the President

Wellington City Council’s (WCC) Eco-City proposal to join the Zoo, the Botanic Garden, Otari-Wilton’s Bush, and Zealandia, under one management structure has generated a lot of community discussion–both for but mostly against.   Whatever the result of these discussions, it has been a really positive experience to see so many people so passionate about their respective organisations.   This is a sign of the pride we have for these organisations, and the work they are doing– it bodes well for “eco” conservation in Wellington.

Each organisation has its own priorities and undertakes the work that best suits its objectives.   But in our enthusiasm for doing this, and whether or not a new management structure eventuates, let us not overlook that by working together we can achieve even greater results.

Regarding working together, BotSoc stands out because it has no “patch” of its own–every area of native bush is of interest, regardless of owner.   This is exemplified by our recent field trips.   One was on 5 May to Seton Nossiter Park, a WCC reserve of regenerating forest in the Newlands / Paparangi / Woodridge area.   BotSoccer and Seton Nossiter Park Working Group member, Peter Gilberd, is a local who spends much of his time in the park organising, weeding, planting and generally caring for it–a sure sign of the pride I referred to above.   The Society for its part is preparing native and adventive plant lists for the Working Group, for WCC and the NZ Plant Conservation Network.

Our field trip to the Wairarapa at Easter resulted in support being shown, and native and adventive plant lists prepared, for the QEII National Trust and the owners of covenants at Highden Station, and Zabell Farms.   At Carter Scenic Reserve, east of Carterton, we discussed plant identification, and management problems, with members of its working group, led by BotSoccer, Pat McLean.

Chris Moore


Society opposed tunnel and monorail

The Society lodged submissions opposing the Department of Conservation’s (DOC) intention to grant approval in principle for two companies to establish and run new transport systems connecting Queenstown and Milford Sound.

The tunnel

The 11.3-km tunnel is part of the proposed ‘Dart Passage’ which would shorten the return coach journey between Queenstown and Milford Sound / Piopiotahi from 9 hours to c. 4 hours.   The tunnel would connect the end of the road around Lake Wakatipu and the Hollyford Road.

The Officer’s Report on the application was very thorough.   We disagreed, however, with one of its main conclusions that any significant adverse effects resulting from the construction and use of the tunnel and the portals could be managed to the point where they would be minor.

Our main botanical concern was a wetland in the Hollyford Valley which the Officer’s Report described as being large, of high conservation value, and containing nationally rare and distinct vegetation associations and habitat types.   The report acknowledged that any change in the hydrology of the wetland would have potentially severe and adverse environmental effects on it.   Nevertheless, DOC envisaged being able to impose a concession condition that would require the concessionaire to maintain its existing hydrological processes.   We suggested this may be both unrealistic and unenforceable.

We also argued that the tunnel would be incompatible with DOC’s commitment and obligation to preserve the integrity of Te Wahipounamu – the South West New Zealand World Heritage Area.   Granting of World Heritage status by the IUCN confirmed that the area is one of the world’s great wilderness areas.

The monorail

We also opposed granting of approval in principle for a concession to develop a monorail and mountain bike track in Snowdon Forest and Fiordland National Park, but not quite so vigorously.   Overall, we did not accept DOC’s view that the final design stage (comprising preparation of final route location specifications and plans) would reasonably and practicably avoid, remedy or mitigate the significant adverse effects described in the application.

Our key concern was the potentially irreversible ecological effects, including edge effects, of fragmenting a large ecological mosaic into c. 150 smaller blocks, many of which may be only 200 m x 200 m.   Other negative effects we mentioned included the potential for invasions of mammalian pests and weed species along the monorail route and the mountain bike trail, and the rarity of some of the non-forest ecosystems that would be disturbed, especially the wetlands and tussock grasslands.

We also acknowledged some positives, including:
•   the improvement in the quality of the visitor experience for tourists who had been persuaded that they could stay in Queenstown, because Milford Sound and Fiordland didn’t warrant more than one day on their itinerary
•   the opportunities for more people to see this special part of NZ, particularly people unable to walk or cycle through it
•   the additional safety provided by the mountain-bike trail for people on the monorail if it ever had to be evacuated.

Proposed Game Animal Council Bill

A bill proposing the establishment of a Game Animal Council is now before a Select Committee.   It is the result of the United Future Party’s ‘confidence and supply’ agreement with the Government.   United Future believes that deer, thar, chamois and wild pigs should be recognised as valued introduced species rather than as pests.   The bill sets out to give these animals “their deserved status as game animals”.

The bill worries the Society because many indigenous plant species are highly palatable, and under intense browsing pressure, can be eliminated from their communities.   We have seen first-hand in many parts of NZ, the damage caused by mammalian herbivores to our indigenous plants, forests and sub-alpine ecosystems, including the soils and screes that support them.

The main functions of the proposed Game Animal Council would be to provide advice to the Minister of Conservation, and to undertake management functions to improve the hunting experience of ‘herds of special interest’.   In our submission we opposed the establishment of the proposed Game Animal Council.   The Treasury and DOC have said that a ministerial advisory committee under the Wild Animal Control Act would be more appropriate.

We did, however, acknowledge the merit of improving opportunities for hunting on conservation lands, provided that habitat protection remains the overriding consideration.   With DOC stretched for resources, NZ needs to find new ways of controlling the mammalian herbivores which are causing so much damage to our natural heritage.   The solution may lie in collaborative, science-based, approaches which enable those who value hunting to play more active roles in protecting natural ecosystems on public conservation lands from deer, chamois, thar and pigs.   Goat control is a related issue and we wondered why goats were not included in this bill.

Greater Wellington’s draft Long-term Plan.   Greater Wellington produced a very clear plan.   By opposing the proposal to spend $34 million on an integrated electronic ticketing system for trains, buses and ferries, we were able to suggest more funding for three other proposals we particularly liked:
•   expanding pest control programmes
•   managing regional parks
•   sustainable land management.

GW intends to expand its sustainable land management work to dairy farms on lowland areas to improve water and soil quality.

Wellington City Council’s Eco-City proposal Wellington City Council (WCC) is considering changing the governance and management structure for Zealandia / Karori Sanctuary and the city’s other natural attractions–Wellington Zoo, Otari-Wilton’s Bush and the Botanic Garden.   The Eco-City proposal refers to one of four options to emerge from a Council Working Party set up to consider how Council should respond to a request from the Karori Sanctuary Trust for more ratepayer-funding for Zealandia.

We are concerned about the implications for Otari-Wilton’s Bush, because none of the proposed options appear to be beneficial.   Placing Otari-Wilton’s Bush under the proposed Eco-City structure may not be a particularly healthy place for Otari over the next few years, as Eco-City attempts to resolve Zealandia’s financial issues.   Aspects of the alternative, remaining within Council’s Parks and Gardens business unit, are also disheartening.   Despite approving the statutory Management Plan (2007), and the Landscape Development Plan (2010), WCC is apparently under so much financial pressure that it cannot find any capital funding to implement these plans.   Council cancelled the capital funding previously allocated for improvements at Otari during 2011/12.   Even more disturbing, Council has not allocated any capital funding for Otari in its draft Long-Term Plan 2012-2022.

Bev Abbott, Submissions Co-ordinator

Tree stamps

NZ Native Trees on stamps

NZ Post’s 2012 New Zealand Native Trees issue of stamps featured:
•   pohutukawa – $0.60
•   cabbage tree – $1.20
•   kowhai – $1.90
•   nikau – $2.40
•   manuka – $2.90

Simon Alliso, NZ Post

Grant’s Bush Protected

A conservation covenant between AgResearch Ltd and DOC was registered on 12 April 2012 over 7.5 ha of land at Wallaceville, Upper Hutt.   It is under certificate of title WN47A/259.   The covenant came about under the Government’s Land of Potential Interest programme, whereby the chief executives of SOEs and CRIs consent to protect significant conservation values before disposal of land.   The covenant is in two parcels:
•   Grant’s Bush (3.0 ha) being a roughly square-shaped block of bush comprising black beech and podocarps, with a dense understorey of native shrubs.   Weeds, mostly on the fenced margin, include hawthorn, sycamore, barberry, walnut and conifers.
•   The second partly-fenced block, to the south end of the property, near Alexander Road, is triangular (4.5 ha) and comprises mature and semi-mature totara as generally standalone species, sited on the floodplain.   The covenant is managed by DOC’s Kapiti Wellington area office.

Heritage covenants have been negotiated by the NZ Historic Places Trust over the former veterinary laboratory building and an associated furnace structure.

David Bishop, Wellington Hawke’s Bay Conservancy, Department of Conservation, dbishop (at), phone 04 472 5821.

Natural Environment Forum

Wellington City Council invited people who receive the e-newsletter, Branch Out, to attend the inaugural Natural Environment Forum on 3 May, at the ASB Sports Centre, Kilbirnie.

Members of the city’s many revegetation and restoration groups were updated on progress on natural environment matters, and asked to comment on WCC’s work to date, and to discuss our future challenges and opportunities.   The comments made will feed into the 2012-2022 Long-Term Plan (LTP) process.

After an introduction by Her Worship the Mayor, Celia Wade-Brown, participants broke into groups for workshop sessions:

1.   Biodiversity Action Plan.   The plan is its fourth year of implementation.   We were given an update on progress, and key projects for the future, and asked to comment on WCC’s progress in implementing the plan.

2.   Tracks and walkways.   A staff member described progress with implementing many projects in the Open Space Access Plan.   Participants suggested other projects for WCC to consider.

3.   Capital Spaces.   Capital Spaces, Wellington’s Open Space Strategy has been guiding work in Wellington’s reserves network for many years, but it is now time for a review.

4.   Eco-City Council-Controlled Organisation (CCO).   A new CCO has been proposed combining Zealandia, Wellington Zoo, the Botanic Garden, and Otari-Wilton’s Bush.   Participants had the opportunity to learn more about this proposal, and three other options, and comment on each.

For further information on the forum, contact Wellington City Council, info (at)

Percy Scenic Reserve

Plant news

Recent acquisitions to the collections include Plantago spp. studied by Heidi Meudt, Te Papa.   These were kindly donated after the preliminary results for the Plantago revision were finalised.

We also received male cutting material of Atriplex cinerea from Roger Gaskill, DOC Motueka.   This was propagated and will be planted, with female stock, in the entrance coastal garden just off Dowse Drive.   Another planting will be made in the street gardens on Petone Foreshore.

Some alpine seed, collected on a botanical excursion I took with the University of Canterbury’s summer school at Cass, has recently germinated.   Once established, these plants will be included in the greenhouse collection, and if suitable, the Druce Alpine Memorial Garden.

More Charleston gentians, Gentianella scopulorum, are ready to send to Westport.   This species is still classified as Nationally Critical, and Percy SR has been growing them every year, with moderate success.   The trials last year to break seed dormancy were successful, although not much germination time was saved, compared with fresh seed.

General news

The new Downer Super site at Porirua was officially opened on 3 March 2012 by PM John Key, and attended by top Downer executives.   The site was available to staff in mid-January, and early landscape plantings were completed in November.

There is room available this winter to plant Olearia gardneri, and a small entrance garden of threatened species.   Once the other areas have become more established, Percy SR will provide more threatened species to be included in the landscape design, with some interpretation to follow, for the benefit of the workers on site.   This will be beneficial as an insurance site for some of our rarer treasures.

There has been a recent outbreak of vandalism and graffiti with damage occurring at the turning circle at the end of the Percy SR car park, and damage to 5-year-old whau, Entelea arborescens, near the detention dam bunding.   Luckily, these areas were secondary plantings, so only a small amount of propagation will be required to replace the damage.

Jill Broome, Plant Collections Supervisor, Percy Scenic Reserve

Dactylanthus flowering

It is with much excitement that we confirm the successful establishment of the root parasite, Dactylanthus taylorii, in the Threatened Plant Garden at the University of Waikato.   Seed was sown in 2007 and we found that flowering occurred this summer.   There will be more details in the next Waikato Botanical Society newsletter.   Please see the link to the University press release:

Catherine Beard, Waikato Botanical Society

Greater Wellington Biodiversity Department’s function and structure

Manager: Tim Porteous
The Biodiversity department was formed in 2010, a process that amalgamated programmes from across the Council.   The new structure of the department aims to achieve positive biodiversity outcomes through increased focus on:
•   Co-ordinating management of high value biodiversity areas
•   Providing input into policy and planning processes
•   Increasing community engagement in priority areas
•   Strategic stakeholder engagement

The department is largely operational with the bulk of its allocated budget being spent on managing the threats to indigenous biodiversity in areas with high biodiversity value.   These threats include introduced pest plants and animals, grazing stock, and pressures from land use.

The department consists of three teams.   Each team is responsible for delivering projects as part of wider work programmes.

Strategy and Systems Team
The team acts as the primary point of contact for biodiversity policy advice and biodiversity issues beyond specific high value sites or areas.   The team will provide input into statutory and non-statutory processes relating to biodiversity.   “Position papers” on key biodiversity issues (e.g. cumulative impacts and ecosystem services) to inform the department and the wider organisation will be prepared.

Harley Spence, Team Leader
Jennie Marks, Senior Biodiversity Advisor
Hadyn Butler, Biodiversity Advisor

Implementation Team
The purpose of the Implementation Team is to co-ordinate the management of high value biodiversity areas across the region.   Management activities will focus on maintaining and restoring the biodiversity values on sites within such areas.   Plant and animal pest control, legal protection, and the exclusion of stock, are key management tools that require continuing investment of Council resources.

The Implementation Team’s other key role is to provide high quality technical site-specific biodiversity advice.

The team’s projects are carried out under the umbrella of two work programmes:
•   Managing areas with high biodiversity value
•   Site-specific biodiversity advice
Alison Davis,   Team Leader
Anna Burrows,   Biodiversity Coordinator
Kim Broad,   Biodiversity Coordinator
Tim Park,   Biodiversity Coordinator
Robyn Smith,   Biodiversity Coordinator
Mike Urlich,   Biodiversity Coordinator

Community Projects Team
The purpose of the Community Projects Team is to actively engage the local community in priority biodiversity areas, support ecological restoration across the region, and deliver key biodiversity messages to target audiences.

Richard Romijn,   Team Leader
Jo Fagan,   Community Projects Advisor
Toni de Lautour,   Community Projects Advisor
Janey Hilford,   Community Projects Advisor
Richard Morgan,   Community Projects Advisor
Warren Field,   Community Projects Advisor
Tessa Roberts,   Community Projects Advisor

Restoration Day 2012

Getting the best results from your planting project was the theme of Restoration Day 2012, organised for conservation groups by DOC, Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC), and territorial authorities, and held at Southward Car Museum and Greendale Reserve Paraparaumu.

Keynote Address
John Sawyer, BotSoccer and former Wellingtonian, now Principal Specialist, Natural Heritage, Auckland Council, gave the keynote address.   In his talk, Beyond the grief – Opportunities for rebuilding ecological resilience, he discussed the phases we go through in our grief at the loss of so much in our environment–denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.   However, with optimism, he looks at the work groups are doing:
•   maximising support for restoration
•   building a sustainable team which is acting locally
•   securing the site
•   encouraging young people to take part
•   selecting and sourcing the right species.

The workshops
•   Sourcing seeds and plants – Matt Ward (Kapiti Coast District Council, KCDC)
•   Ecosourcing from nearest stands of mature trees – Trevor Thompson (QE2 National Trust, Wairarapa)
•   Propagation – Jonathan Bussell (Hutt City Council);
•   Practical advice for nursery and home propagation – Laureen Bamford (WCC Berhampore Nursery)
•   Pest plant control – Mike Urlich (GWRC)
•   Advice on control methods, natural and chemical – Darryl Kee (GWRC)
•   Pest animal control – Colin Giddy (DOC)
•   How to reduce, eradicate or isolate pest animals – Lisa Clapcott (DOC)
•   Primary planting – Rob Cross (KCDC)
•   Good planning, what, where and how to plant for success – Rob Craven and Ross Jackson (GWRC)
•   Secondary planting – Myfanwy Emeny (WCC)
•   Suitable plants, sites and volunteer management – Peter Russell (Biodiversity Consultant)
•   Pest monitoring – Jack Mace (DOC)
•   Tips and techniques for effective monitoring of pest species – Bernard Smith (Zealandia)
•   Monitoring your plants – Owen Spearpoint (GWRC)
•   Keeping track of planting using technology, transect lines, vegetation plots and photo points – Matt Robertson (WCC).

The local environment, hospitality, fine weather, and enthusiastic human input made for a rewarding day out.

Priscilla Isaacs and Rae Collins

Rimutaka Range – Aerial Possum Control

The plan

The Animal Health Board (AHB) and Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) are planning a joint aerial possum control operation in the Rimutaka Range.


The proposed operational area covers c. 28,000 ha of the Rimutaka Range and surrounding land.   The project includes the bush-clad hills surrounding the Kaitoke Basin and extends to the Rimutaka Summit.   South of SH 2, the project includes Pakuratahi Forest, and extends into the Wairarapa, including the Rimutaka Rail Trail and up to Pigeon Bush.   The project extends south along the Rimutaka Range to Ocean Beach, and includes the Wainuiomata / Orongorongo Water Collection Area (WCA).   These areas have all undergone aerial possum control operations in the past, the last in 2007.

Why is it being done?

•   To protect cattle and deer herds on surrounding properties from bovine tuberculosis (TB)
•   To protect the health of the extensive tracts of significant indigenous forest in the Wainuiomata / Orongorongo WCA, to ensure the continuation of a high-quality water source for treatment and supply.

Animal Health Board

The AHB’s objective is to eradicate bovine tuberculosis (TB) from NZ.   Bovine TB is an infectious disease that affects domestic cattle and deer herds.   In NZ, the main carriers and transmitters of TB to livestock are possums.   In order to eradicate bovine TB, possum numbers must be kept extremely low–about one or two animals / 10 ha.   Monitoring in the Rimutaka Range during 2011 indicated that possum numbers are up to five times the level required for effective TB control.   It is vital to minimise the risk of TB-infected possums sustaining the disease in their own populations, then passing it to farmed cattle and deer.

Greater Wellington Regional Council

GWRC’s objective is to maintain a healthy and intact indigenous forest catchment to protect a high-quality water source for treatment and supply.   The roots of the trees, shrubs, lianes, ferns and herbaceous plants bind the soil, and help keep sediment out of the water, making it easier and less expensive to treat.   Possum browse damages our forests and makes them less effective at filtering our water.

Possums are targeted in the water collection area because they carry diseases such as bovine TB, and transmit organisms such as giardia and cryptosporidium, which could contaminate the water supply and cause serious illness.   International best practice advocates effective catchment management as part of a multi-barrier approach in guarding against contaminated water supplies.   The Wainuiomata / Orongorongo WCA provides about 20% of the tap water for the Wellington metropolitan area.

Planned control method

Non-toxic, tan-coloured cereal pellets will be distributed in the operational area by helicopter 1-2 weeks before the operation.   This “pre-feed” gives possums a taste for the pellets and overcomes bait shyness.   Toxic, green-coloured cereal pellets, 20 mm in diameter and 30-40 mm long, containing biodegradable sodium fluoroacetate (also known as 1080), will then be distributed in the operational area by helicopter at the rate of 2 kg / ha (roughly one bait / 50-60 m2).   GPS navigational equipment will be used to ensure the accuracy of bait placement.   This method has been very successful in controlling possum numbers to extremely low levels.

Why is this method chosen?

Sodium fluoroacetate is particularly suited for this operation, given the size of the area to be treated, and the rugged nature of the terrain of the Rimutaka Range.   It is a highly effective, cost-efficient and safe method of controlling non-native pests, particularly possums, rats and stoats.   In June 2011, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment strongly endorsed its continued use in NZ.

Biodiversity benefits

Possums eat a wide range of native plants, and prey on birds, eggs, reptiles and invertebrates.   Possums can damage or kill trees in the forest canopy, e.g. emergent Metrosideros robusta / northern rata, and dramatically reduce populations of threatened plants e.g. the mistletoes, Kirk’s tree daisy / Brachyglottis kirkii, raukawa / Raukaua edgerleyi.

Possum control has the additional benefit of delivering a “triple hit” by also killing rats and stoats that eat the carcasses of poisoned possums.   Reducing the numbers of these three introduced predators protects native plants and birds.   This approach is similar to that used in the combined AHB and DOC ‘Project Kaka’ operation in the Tararua Range in November 2010.


There is no risk to public drinking water during or after the operation, because 1080 is highly soluble in water and biodegradable, so does not persist in water or soil.

Precautions to be taken

Warning signs will be erected at all main access points to the operational area.   Everyone must follow the cautions on these signs.   There is no health risk in using this area if they are followed.

Further information

Graeme Butcher, Greater Wellington, Regional Council, PO Box 41, Masterton 5840, Phone 06 378 2484, graeme.butcher (at)
Debbie Viner, Animal Health Board, PO Box 9078, Palmerston North 4410, Phone 06 353 2712, debbie.viner (at)

For more information on how and why sodium fluoroacetate is used in NZ, please visit

WCC’s street plantings

Berhampore Nursery and other Parks and Gardens unit staff continue to do impressive plantings of native species.   A fine example is on the broad median strip between Kent and Cambridge terraces, opposite the Central Fire Station.   There, under a canopy of kowhai, thrive scleranthus on gravel mounds, Poor Knights lily, divaricating coprosmas, including C. acerosa, speargrass, sedges including pingao, the grass Anamanthele lessoniana, rushes, ti kouka, and herbaceous species.

In Northland, at kerb extensions, staff have made effective use of fierce lancewood, Marlborough rock daisy, bidibid, Libertia perigrinans, dianella, manuka, a carex and an astelia.

We would welcome reports from readers of other sites in the Wellington metropolitan area where local authority staff have planted native species, to display the wide range of growth habit, foliage and colour available in our flora.


Usnea specimens sought

BotSoccers are asked to send samples of old man’s beard lichens, Usnea, to Hannah Buckley, Senior Lecturer in Ecology, Lincoln University, who has a PhD student working on the genus.   If you have a collection permit, and can help, please put the specimens in folded paper, or a paper bag, and labelled with their location and the substrate they were collected on.   Send them to: Hannah Buckley, Ph.D., Department of Ecology, P O Box 84, Lincoln University, Lincoln 7647, Christchurch, phone 03 321 8433, fax 03 3258 3885, Hannah.Buckley (at), (Ecology Department research blog)

Wellington City Council Berhampore Nursery Open Day: Saturday 21 April

About three times a year BotSoc attends a public event with our display-board and makes a concerted effort to, as our purpose states, ‘advocate for the conservation and protection of NZ native plants’, and ‘foster an interest in NZ native plants’.   Our approach is to mount a display of photographs on our portable display-board that indicate what we stand for, and what we do as a society.   A member or two attends the ‘stand’ to answer questions from the public about native plants.   It also may serve as a first stop for people who may consider joining BotSoc, though, to date, this has not been a significant role for the display.   Pamphlets about BotSoc, and the programme of field trips and meetings, and our business card, are liberally distributed on such occasions.   We also refer people to our web site for more information.   In the past year we have had our display-board at Otari Open Day, the Home and Garden Show, and Berhampore Nursery Open Day.   When not used on such occasions, Otari-Wilton’s Bush allows us to install it at Te Marae o Tane visitor centre, 160 Wilton Road.

More BotSoccers needed to attend

Unfortunately, it is hard to find people who are able to spend a few hours attending such days to represent BotSoc.   At Berhampore there was only one member, who kindly stayed for the day.   The committee would very much like to hear from any others who are happy to be contacted about attending such days on behalf of BotSoc.   If you would like to help, please contact Mick Parsons 972 1148, or Sunita Singh 387 9955.   Thank you! The well-attended WCC Berhampore Nursery Open Day was a wonderful chance to show off this magnificent and beautifully kept asset that supplies Wellington’s parks and public gardens.   Wellington’s road verges, median strips, and public gardens, in recent years have begun to showcase NZ native plants from its region better than many other cities in New Zealand.   Many of those who attend such open days have little knowledge of the native plants of the Wellington region, and this year’s theme of ‘Coasting along’ sought to introduce people to native coastal plants, many of which are endangered.

Mick Parsons, Vice-president

No Latin – no worries

An article in the Guardian Weekly of 27 January 2012 may be of interest to botanists:

Botanists no longer required to use Latin
For at least 400 years, botanists across the globe have relied on Latin as their lingua franca.   But all that changed this month.   Scientists say plants will keep their double-barrelled names, but the requirement that new species be described in the classical language has been dropped.   Instead, they have agreed to allow botanists to use English.   In their scientific papers, they can still describe a newly found species in Latin if they wish, but most probably won’t.   “It was heading toward extinction,” said Warren Wagner, of the Smithsonian Institution’s botany department.   Globally, scientists discover 2,000 new species per year.   As many as one in five of the world’s plant species have yet to be identified.   The Washington Post.

There’s a longer article:

Jill Goodwin

NZ’s pre-human vegetation

Do you have an interest in New Zealand’s pre-human vegetation?   Landcare Research is proposing to create a data repository for New Zealand pre-human vegetation data.   At this stage we are interested in gaining comments and suggestions from potential users of such a resource, about what features they would like incorporated.

Jamie Wood and Janet Wilmshurst, Landcare Research

Nancy Jean Williams 1921 - 2012

Nancy Williams died on 18 April in her 92nd year and 70th year of her marriage to Ted.

Nancy has been a life member of the Society since 1971.   Only her failing health led to her to not being an active member of BotSoc in the last decade.   Even so, both Nan and Ted have taken a continuing interest in the activities of the Society.   We offer our condolences to Ted and his family.   An obituary will appear in the next newsletter.

Rodney Lewington, Darea Sherratt and Carol West

Karori Tunnel eastern portal planting

By day and by night, work to strengthen the tunnel’s portals is progressing.   Despite my earlier fears of serious, unavoidable damage to the indigenous plantings which we began in 2002 above the tunnel, it seems there may eventually be some benefits.   So far, the well-grown, planted trees such as kowhai, seem not to have been damaged.   A temporary, timber platform about 3 m x 4 m, supported by scaffolding, has been constructed high above the tunnel, at the base of the vertical crib wall below Raroa Crescent.   Previously a dense tangle of uncontrollable, inaccessible weed shrubs, grasses and trees sprouted here, but most of these have been destroyed in the course of tunnel-strengthening activities.   Eventually this could offer an opportunity for Council to re-plant appropriately and keep the area clear of invasive weeds..

Barbara Mitcalfe

Some surprises in Burrows Avenue Reserve

Hoheria sexstylosaHoheria sexstylosa
The large Hoheria sexstylosa at Burrows Avenue Reserve.   Photos: Barbara Mitcalfe.
On a Tararua Tramping Club botany trip in the reserve last Spring, I noticed scattered, yellow-green, willow-like foliage high above, sunlit against a blue sky, and too far away for me to positively identify.   Wondering how a large willow tree could have been allowed to survive in this well-used indigenous ecosystem, I went off-track to look for its origin and found five connected trunks arising from near ground level, each measuring c. 30-40 cm diameter, one of them dead.   About 10 m long, and spreading widely, they disappeared into, and emerged above, the surrounding canopy of mixed indigenous species.   The site was poorly lit, and the dark-grey bark was unfamiliar, so I tried to get a specimen of the one leafy epicormic shoot just within reach.   Such was its resistance that a thin strip of lacy inner bark came off with it.   This, and the sharply serrate, lanceolate leaves, confirmed this large old multi-trunked tree to be Hoheria sexstylosa, a species now uncommon in Wellington City’s remaining forests.   The most common lacebark species here is Hoheria populnea, naturally occurring from Waikato northwards, a garden-escape which has unfortunately naturalised far and wide.   The remarkably large specimen of Hoheria sexstylosa in Burrows Avenue Reserve may well date back to an era before the reserve was gazetted.   Come to see this ancient tree, and other surprises, on our Three Karori reserves field trip on 4 August.

Barbara Mitcalfe

Go to Earlier News 2010-11.


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