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News Snippets

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

December 2015 News


Porirua Outdoor Recreation Park

Richard Herbert did a great job at short notice coordinating BotSoc’s submission on the draft development plan for the proposed park on reserve land west of Porirua and Tawa.   The park has implications for five reserves: Spicer Forest, Spicer Botanical Park, Colonial Knob Scenic Reserve, Te Rahui o Rangituhi and Porirua Scenic Reserve.   The purpose of the plan is to guide detailed planning for the facilities and tracks to be built over the next five years.

The Society congratulated Porirua City Council, Wellington City Council and DOC for bringing together these reserves to achieve valuable protection of the landscape and indigenous ecological values, as well as people’s recreation and enjoyment.

We supported sections of the draft plan for Spicer Forest, Spicer Botanical Park, and Te Rahui o Rangituhi, provided a pest-animal and pest-plant control programme is established before the tracks are opened.

We opposed the sections of the draft plan affecting Colonial Knob Scenic Reserve and Porirua Scenic Reserve, as the proposed developments there would have more than minor ecological impacts on the reserves.

Select Committee hearings on Wellington Town Belt Bill

In our written and oral submissions to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee, we supported the intent of the Wellington Town Belt Bill, commented favourably on several provisions, and suggested two changes.

We recommend expanding section 11 to require that management plans should include a description of how Wellington City Council (WCC) intends to work towards the outcomes inherent in the principles section 4, but that the content should not be limited to this.

We also recommended modifying section 23 to require that any compensation due to WCC following compulsory acquisition by the Crown of Town Belt land under the Public Works Act should be in the form of land that meets the requirements for a public recreation ground as defined in the Act.

Whangapaoa Springs

DOC recently sought submissions on the plan to classify Whangapaoa Springs Reserve as a Scientific Reserve.   The land had come to the Crown following the subdivision of a Carter Holt Harvey Ltd forestry block.

We supported the plan, saying that NZ needs to protect the full diversity of its remaining geothermal ecosystems because they are rare today, and were naturally rare in pre-human times.   One of the special features of this reserve is a large population of the geothermal fern, Nephrolepis flexuosa (native ladder fern), which grows around the margins of the warm pools.

The principal purpose of Scientific Reserves is to protect and preserve, in perpetuity, areas for scientific study, research, education, and the benefit of the country.   Entry to all or part of a reserve may be restricted to permit holders.

Bev Abbott, Submissions Coordinator


21 October.   Porirua Outdoor Recreation Park proposal.   (incl. Spicer Forest, Spicer Botanical Park, Colonial Knob Sc. Res., Te Rahui o Rangituhi, Porirua Sc. Res.)   Topics: track and entrance development, present and future recreational activities, landscape management, how to reduce user conflicts, etc.   See, keyword “consultorp”.

29 October.   Wellington Town Belt Bill.   Submissions to Local Government and Environment Select Committee.   See for details.

23 December.   Topics for Environmental Reporting.   Ideas sought for topics for future environmental reports.   See for details.

MOUs with community groups

Greater Wellington Regional Council is considering whether to make changes in the way it works with community groups, e.g., Eastbourne’s M.I.R.O., the Whitireia Park Restoration Group, and BotSoc, in relation to Te Marua Bush.   It is proposed to introduce Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) for each group.   We shall keep you posted.

Barbara Mitcalfe

The conservancy’s threatened plants: what’s happened since 1995?

Next year, BotSoc will prepare a submission on DOC’s draft 10-year Conservation Management Strategy (CMS) for Wellington Conservancy.   I’ve been wondering what has happened to the conservancy’s threatened plants since the first CMS was approved in May 1996.   The recent death of John Sawyer, the Conservancy’s botanist for many years, adds some poignancy to the task.

The story starts with a spreadsheet dated October 1994, in an appendix in the first CMS.   It is a fascinating insight into what DOC staff knew about 203 plant taxa in the conservancy, and how they determined priorities for action.   Staff considered national conservation status, and local factors such as type locality, local endemics and distribution.   The final taxa rankings included 53 rated “high”, and 25 rated “medium-high” priority.   Action statements included terms such as survey, monitor, record, propagate, and translocate.   There were also warnings about not expecting too much.

Mistletoes in Wellington Conservancy
In 1994, John Sawyer and Raewyn Empson produced the excellent Wellington Conservancy Plant Conservation Strategy, its goal “ … to ensure that indigenous plant taxa continue to exist in the wild”.   In 1996, John’s name headed the list of authors of Plants of National Conservation Concern in Wellington Conservancy, based on work done by Wildlands Consultants Ltd.   This provided other DOC staff, local authorities, and the public with 200 pages of information about the conservancy’s 48 nationally threatened plants species.

The conservancy also produced several species-specific plans.   For example, in 2001 John Sawyer and Albert Rebergen reported on the current status and management requirements of the eight indigenous species of mistletoes.   It mentions Tony Silbery’s successful translocation of Ileostylus micranthus to Te Marua Bush from Benge Park, Upper Hutt, and other successful and unsuccessful attempts at translocations.

So, while programme planning at conservancy level was going well, it’s not easy to find collated information about what work was being done, or what progress was being made.   Reports of successes and new discoveries appeared from time to time, not from DOC, but through other channels, such as BotSoc’s Bulletin and Newsletter.   Barbara Mitcalfe reported in the June 2011 Bulletin, that Austrofestuca littoralis, (now Poa billardierei), was being propagated by WCC’s Berhampore Nursery for use in dune restoration work, following the rediscovery of one plant at Makara in 1997.   In the September 2014 newsletter, Anne McLean reported that the QEII National Trust was protecting a population of 240 Olearia gardneri trees that had been discovered by chance in Wairarapa.

Head Office influence

In the late 1990s / early 2000s, DOC’s national office issued several threatened-species recovery plans, including plans for Muehlenbeckia astonii, the coastal cresses (Lepidium) and mistletoes, in the conservancy.   Most of these plans have now passed their review dates, and decisions on updating them have not been made.

The next decisions affecting the conservancy’s threatened plant programmes came as DOC faced up to its inadequate budgets.   Initially the natural heritage work was ‘nationalised’, with separate prioritisation processes for ecosystems and species.   Later, one list of priorities was produced.   DOC argued it would generally be more efficient and cost-effective to manage threatened species at sites that were already being worked on for their ecosystem values.

What’s happening now?

Staff from DOC’s Wellington, Masterton, and Palmerston North offices responded to my request for information to help BotSoc prepare a submission on the draft CMS.   I’m collating the replies.   Here is a summary:

Wellington / Kapiti

Translocations of Leptinella nana and Muehlenbeckia ephedroides have been attempted, but with limited success, (rabbits).   Grazing by sheep is helping maintain the habitat for populations of Muehlenbeckia ephedroides and Mazus novaezeelandiae.   There are secure populations of Melicytus aff . obovatus on Matiu and Taputeranga islands, and several plants at the remaining two mainland sites.   Forest and Bird is raising Discaria toumatau from seed.   Atriplex buchananii may be cultivated at Otari.   Monitoring of nine Regionally Threatened species is now largely informal.


DOC reported on 30 threatened species.   Landowners are helping to protect four of the area’s Nationally Critical species including Olearia gardneri and Simplicia laxa, where the trend is positive following new discoveries.   Landowners, Ducks Unlimited and Greater Wellington Regional Council are working with DOC on a few other species.   However, responsibility for 14 species lies with DOC alone.   Monitoring shows that some species are stable, others are declining, and the prospects for some species depend on “opportunist finds”.

Simplicia laxa
Simplicia laxa is very difficult to distinguish from other grasses that coexist with it.   Recent discoveries of S. laxa in Wairarapa suggest that it may be more widespread than previously believed.   Photo: Jeremy Rolfe.


When the first CMS was written, Manawatu was not in Wellington Conservancy.   DOC Manawatu is managing and / or monitoring Dactylanthus taylorii, Pimelea actea, Acaena rorida, Pittosporum turneri, and Celmisia aff . gracilenta “Mangaweka”.   Urtica linearifolia, Korthasella salicornioides, and Carex literosa are benefi ting from ecosystem restoration work.   Weed-control work outside the ecosystem work is helping protect Leptinella dioica subsp. monoica, Sebaea ovata and Isolepis basilaris.

Reporting progress

At one time, we could have requested a report on the conservancy’s threatened plant programmes via Wellington Conservation Board.   (Boards have a statutory responsibility to monitor progress towards CMSs.) This process has been disrupted by the delay in reviewing the Wellington CMS 1995-2006.   In recent years, DOC has based its reports to the board on progress towards the non- statutory Conservation Action Plans.

Looking ahead

At our February 2015 meeting, Jeremy Rolfe described the system he is developing, with regional councils, to assess the conservation status of plants at a regional scale.   The Wellington trial is almost complete.   This will give us an updated list of the region’s threatened plants and their conservation status.   Twenty years ago, similar information was in the spread-sheet in the first CMS.   Sometime next year we will be able to influence the objectives and targets for the future management of the region’s threatened plant species in the next CMS (2016-2025).   Do let me know what vision you think BotSoc should be promoting.

Bev Abbott, Submissions Coordinator

Obituary – John Sawyer 1.11.1968 –6.11.2015

John Sawyer
John Sawyer

Such was John’s determination, “to work in a country which had a Conservation Department’” as he expressed it, that soon after his arrival in NZ in 1993, he began work as a volunteer in DOC’s Wellington Conservancy.   Within a year he was taken on staff as Conservancy botanist.   The speed with which John had learnt the NZ flora amazed us when he joined BotSoc in 1995, and before long, this, together with his impressive academic background in ecology, and his irrepressible drive, successfully raised the profile of indigenous plants both in the community and in DOC.

Peter de Lange, who knew him well, writes that John’s background in biogeography was an unusual qualification then.   His meticulous botanical data-gathering about a site or a topic was followed by data-mapping, and finally, he would distil from it, options and strategies for biota management.   This combination of skills was extremely useful to DOC, and is exemplified in a stream of publications such as, “Northern Rata Metrosideros robusta in Wellington Conservancy.   Current Status and Future Management”.   McKessar and Sawyer, March 1999.   He soon amassed a huge database, which, by June 2001, was published in the form of two editions of Bibliography of Plant Checklists and Vegetation Survey Data, for Wellington Conservancy, (excluding Chatham Islands) .   These documents were, and still are, used constantly by local botanists, professional and amateur.   They were followed by a stream of other publications, including those on the Chatham Islands, previously a somewhat neglected area, focussing on plants of threatened status, and ways to rescue them from extinction.

John was fit and active, with a remarkable ability and enthusiasm for learning about the natural world.   Before long he was leading field trips for BotSoc.   We first met him on 5 March 1993, on a field trip in Taita Scientific Reserve, Lower Hutt, led by Dr Ian Atkinson.   This was soon after John began learning the names of native plants.   We well remember his pleasure at seeing Cyathea dealbata / ponga / silver fern for the first time.   For a field trip on 7 June 1997, he recced, then led, a trip he ingeniously named “Coastal Crawl”, around Wellington’s south coast beaches.   Indeed, we were often on our hands and knees, studying the tiny plants he directed us to study and learn.   Such were his powers of observation, and his accumulated knowledge, that he showed the group numerous coastal species that many of us did not know existed, let alone a few kilometres from the capital’s CBD!

John’s personal vision of, and drive to set up, the NZ Plant Conservation Network, was entirely his own inspiration, driven by his enormous personal commitment to protection for, and learning about, the natural world.   What a legacy!   We have lost a good friend.

Barbara Mitcalfe and Chris Horne

John edited three of BotSoc’s Bulletin (No. 49 in 2005, No. 50 in 2007, and No. 51 in 2008).   He wrote articles for the Bulletin, and I’m sure he would have given memorable talks at meetings.   Some of his addresses on Restoration Days were exceptional.

He tackled many topics in his informative and motivational editorials, as illustrated by the following opening lines:
2005: “Botany is not just an excuse to tramp slowly – it is also the reason.”
2007: “If you asked fellow members what have been the greatest achievements of Wellington BotSoc over the past 60 years, I have sure you would be given many different responses.”
2008: “It is hard for botanists not to be drawn into the climate change debate.”

Bev Abbott

Wellington City Council Urban Ecology team update

Kahakaha / Astelia hastata (= Collospermum hastatum), and the locally uncommon tawhirikaro (Pittosporum cornifolium), have been planted as epiphytes in a trial in Huntleigh Park.   If it is successful, epiphytes could be reintroduced into the city’s stands of native bush.   WCC arborists climbed into the larger trees in the reserve, up to 10m above ground, to plant the epiphytes in the crooks of the main branches.   We will monitor the survival and growth of these plants.

We are continuing to increase the range of species we are planting through our restoration planting programme.   We now eco-source and grow 125 species to plant into reserves.   Some notable inclusions are Scandia geniculata, and a broader range of Coprosma species.   Many of these plants will go to community group plantings under the guidance of our Restoration Technical Advisor.

Berhampore Nursery has succeeded in germinating Mida salicifolia, a parasitic native tree.   The seeds were collected by Jonathan Anderson from below miro in Khandallah Park.   They have been potted up with a range of possible hosts, so we can determine what its natural hosts are in Wellington.   If anyone knows, please contact Anita Benbrook at Berhampore Nursery.

Mida salicifolia
Mida salicifolia.   Photo: Jeremy Rolfe.

Weed control is continuing at sites of ecological significance around the city.   We have started a significant wilding pine and macrocarpa programme in parts of the Town Belt.   This is in addition to our usual control of other wildings such as cherry and sycamore.

Our bio-control programme is continuing, with privet lace-bug being released on Te Ahumairangi Hill.   This was one of the first releases of this bio-control agent in NZ.   In December we will release WCC-reared Tradescantia leaf-beetles in Wellington Botanic Garden.

We have a summer scholar working with our team for the next ten weeks.   Miriam Sherratt is undertaking research into garden dumping.   She is studying past sites, and best-practice interventions from overseas, seeking new ideas on how to deal with this continuing problem.

Over the next two months we will finalise action 3.3.5.e from Our Natural Capital.   This is to “develop and publish plant lists and guides for zones around Wellington (based on species that originally grew there), so people learn about the appropriate species to plant”.   We will also produce an audit report on our restoration plantings from the last 20 years, which will better inform future planting methodology and maintenance regimes.   All this information will be readily available once completed.

Myfanwy Emeny, Team Leader, Urban Ecology, Wellington City Councilmy, email myfanwy.emeny (at)

Otari-Wilton’s Bush news

Kia ora koutou.

It looks like we will be having a bumper flowering season for some species this year.   Already I can see masses of flower buds on titoki, tawa, rewarewa and hinau along the canopy walkway.   In the gardens, we have had Ranunculus lyallii flowering which was a treat (likely to be over by the time you’ve read this, sorry!).   Lots of Celmisia are flowering now in the Brockie Rock Garden, along with many other species.   On the other hand, the season also brings weeds, weeds, weeds!   The team will be busy on hands and knees, until the ground dries out a bit and growth slows down.

In our nursery, (and Berhampore Nursery), we have been germinating Mida salicifolia.   This is a small hemi-parasitic tree growing up to 6 m tall, not considered threatened, but thought to be relatively sparse in the Wellington area.   Our aim is to see if we can germinate it, and have it parasitise hosts in the nursery that can be later planted out in the gardens and in WCC-managed forest.   We’ve had germination – now is the wait to see if they successfully plug into the hosts we have provided them.

Our new Adaptations Garden is now planted below the Cockayne Lookout, so we look forward to some good plant growth here this summer.   We are writing interpretive material to illustrate to our visitors how plants have adapted over time to cope with their environment, deter predators and help reproduction.

Some of you will have known our curator, Finn Michalak, who has worked at Otari for six years.   It’s with regret that I announce that Finn has resigned, and is now with Greater Wellington Regional Council doing vegetation surveying with their Biodiversity Team.

Finn had a leading hand with many projects during his time at Otari.   They include the renewal of several gardens after our collection review, work at the Leonard Cockayne Centre, and the new Adaptations Garden.   He led the maintenance of our Te Papa Museum contract for several years, and helped form greater links with DOC, leading to the replanting of several threatened species in the Wellington and Whanganui regions, Pimelea actea being one success.   We wish him all the best with his new position at Greater Wellington.

I’d wish you all the best for the holiday season, enjoying the sun, good food and good company.   Whatever you are doing, have a safe and pleasant Christmas and New Year.

Rewi Elliot, Team Manager Otari Native Botanic Garden and Wilton’s Bush Reserve, E-mail: rewi.elliot (at)

Baring Head

I reported in the last newsletter about our plans to implement the Baring Head Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) over the financial year to 30 June 2016.

Someone, I think a famous general, once said: “No plan survives beyond the first shot.”   The same can be said for the BAP.   Don’t get me wrong, the BAP is still on track, and the results are evident.   However, we have always acknowledged that one-off opportunities may arise, and urgent problems may need to be solved – although optimists might say that every problem is an opportunity – outside the ambit of the BAP.   An example of the former is the new line of DOC 200 traps along Orongorongo Station’s road boundary to better protect a banded dotterel colony.

We are now dealing with cushion fields along Fitzroy Bay beach.   They are being severely impacted by grazing and trampling by sheep, and grazing by rabbits.   BotSoccers will know that coastal plant and animal communities are an uncommon and disappearing ecosystem type, and therefore warrant protection.   The coastal-platform shingle beaches they occupy are acutely threatened nationally.   In addition, the cushion fields provide habitat for native insects such as Wellington coastal moth / Notoreas perornata, katipo spider, red admiral butterfly and Myer’s cicada.   The larvae of the Wellington coastal moth live only on Pimelea species which are part of the cushion-field community.   Unfortunately, plants are being grazed to their bases, the ecosystem is being opened up to desiccation, and the range and numbers of plants are reducing.

The Friends of Baring Head and Greater Wellington Regional Council are confident that erecting a fence at this site to exclude sheep and rabbits would help ensure this ecosystem’s survival and sustainability.   It would allow the plants to grow and mature, then produce seed which could germinate in gaps and edges, bolstering the community.   This would complement the work of volunteers, who have reduced competition to the cushion fields by eradicating infestations of horned poppy, and who will later hand-control lupins and other woody weeds.   We are seeking funding to implement this important project and, while it’s too early to start counting chickens, I hope to be able to give you some good news in the next newsletter.

I must thank fellow BotSoccer, Robyn Smith, for her great work in developing the BAP and helping the Friends to write the successful application for Community Grant funding.   She’s been fantastic to work with, and what’s happening now at Baring Head is a testament to her expertise, good sense, intelligence, and her ability to cope with and manage grumpy and impatient old men.   Although she’s now moved to a position with the QEII National Trust, she’s (possibly unwisely) offered to continue to assist the Friends.   We’re discussing more ideas for Baring Head and its environs.   I’m really looking forward to it.

Colin RyderTreasurer, Friends of Baring Head

Sporadanthus ferrugineus
Sporadanthus ferrugineus.   Photo: Jeremy Rolfe.

Percy Scenic Reserve News

After we tidied the southern lawn area, we completed some planting.   This is a very wet area, so we used moisture-loving plant species, notably five Pittosporum turneri and four Sporadanthus ferrugineus, amongst others.   These were bought in by John Van Den Hoeven.   We hope to fill in gaps in the planting next winter.

We have been taking cuttings and sowing seed for future planting.   Amongst these we have taken cuttings of Atriplex cinerea.   Two were planted on Petone Foreshore, one male and one female.   They were planted quite close together and have become very tangled.   As they were not in flower when we took our cuttings from them, it was a bit of a lottery as to what we had.   We seem to have ended up with all but two being female.   We have also taken cuttings from the existing Veronica (Hebe) bishopiana in the reserve with a view to planting more in the wider Hutt area.

We are planning a seed collecting trip, probably in March, to help rejuvenate the alpine collection.   DOC is processing our applications for collection permits.

Cliff Keilty

Smartphone app to NZ Native Orchids

A smartphone / tablet version of an interactive identification key to native orchids has been created.   It is available for Android at: and for iOS at:

Sporadanthus ferrugineus

This free app uses 43 characters and 212 character-states to identify all 120-160 of our native orchids, including leaves, flowers, habitats and distribution.   Character explanations and species profiles are built into the app.   Species profiles link out to the NZ Native Orchids web site, the NZPCN web site, and the Flora of NZ Online.

The NZ Orchid Key contains >1,500 images and is a complete install (89M), so it can be used in the field without internet access.   The authors are: Murray Dawson, Jeremy Rolfe, Kathleen Stewart, Jenny Dent, and Michael Pratt.

We thank members of the NZ Native Orchid Group (, the NatureWatch NZ project (, and others for contributing their outstanding images to this key.

The original online PC / Mac version has also been updated at

The NZ TFBIS (Terrestrial and Freshwater Biodiversity Information System) Programme funded this app.

Please feel free to forward this article to others who may be interested.   We hope that you find this a useful tool for identifying this interesting family of plants that have high conservation values.

Murray Dawson

Porirua City Council wins NZPCN award

Congratulations to Porirua City Council (PCC) which won the NZ Plant Conservation Network award for the Local Authority Protecting Native Plants.

Over the last ten years, PCC has done an outstanding job of transforming Porirua’s Bothamley Park from a weed-infested area into a well-used and appreciated public space, with much improved ecological values.   The council has done much weed control in the park, and restored weedy areas by planting numerous native species, including some threatened species such as large-leaved milk tree / Streblus banksii (At Risk – Relict).   PCC has also encouraged public involvement, with well-attended regular community planting days.   People are now starting to take ownership of the park by looking after their ‘patch’, including removing rubbish.

Revision of kanuka

Watch a recording of Peter de Lange’s talk on his revision of the NZ Kunzea taxa at the following link:

Source: Waikato Botanical Society

NZ Government selects QEII National Trust for Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy initiative

Sporadanthus ferrugineus

Queen Elizabeth II National Trust has been selected as NZ’s contributing partner in the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy initiative (QCC), says chair, James Guild.

The QCC initiative was announced at the Opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta on 27 November to mark Her Majesty’s long reign and dedication to the Commonwealth.   The Commonwealth’s 53 members have been invited to contribute to QCC through programmes that demonstrate how their citizens are protecting native forests.   The National Trust is greatly honoured to have been selected as NZ’s contributor to the QCC.   “It shows that the government has confidence in the work we do in partnership with private landowners to protect New Zealand’s natural heritage,” he says.

The National Trust has been partnering with landowners for almost 40 years to help them permanently protect natural and cultural heritage places on their land with covenants.   Landowners continue to own and care for their covenants with the Trust’s support.   The network of covenants protects special places across the 70% of NZ’s land that is privately owned and highly modified.   This is where some of our richest biodiversity is represented, but where it is least protected and most at risk, he says.

To support the QCC in NZ, the Government has agreed to spend $1 million over three years to help the National Trust to extend its network of covenants over native forest on private land.   ‘In effect we already have a Queen’s Canopy in place with over 4000 covenants established under the name of Queen Elizabeth II National Trust, so this will give our work a great boost.   At the moment there are more landowners wanting to covenant special places on their land than the National Trust can afford.   With these funds, we can support more to protect more, giving our most threatened biodiversity a better chance to flourish’, Guild says.

“Permanently protecting what remains of our native forests on private land enhances the environment, protects the unique features and values that we cherish as a nation, and benefits our society as a whole.   The National Trust is delighted to have this opportunity to build the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy here in NZ , and demonstrate New Zealanders’ commitment to protecting indigenous forests,” Guild says.

Source: Queen Elizabeth II National Trust news release.

October 2015 News


As there have been no new submissions recently, we can report on what’s been happening as a result of some earlier consultation processes.

Town Belt Bill introduced into Parliament.

The Wellington Town Belt Bill had its first reading in Parliament on 16.9.15.   It was an amicable affair.   Grant Robertson, who introduced the bill, used his ten minutes effectively, and was congratulated by several other speakers for his persistence over fourteen years in seeking this law change.   All speakers acknowledged the high quality work done by Wellington City Council in preparing the draft bill.   Many spoke of their pleasure at learning that, when the bill is passed, it will be possible to add land to the Town Belt.   Tensions with the Public Works Act didn’t get much air time.

The Local Government and Environment Committee is calling for public submissions.   We will be supporting the Bill.   Our submission will comment on provisions which are particularly relevant to the Society, e.g., one of the principles is that the Wellington Town Belt should support healthy indigenous ecosystems.   Submissions close on 29 October 2015.

Our Natural Capital: Wellington’s biodiversity strategy and action plan 2015

Wellington City Council (WCC) has approved Our Natural Capital after a very thorough public consultation process.   Members may recall Myfanwy Emeny testing some early ideas with BotSoc at its meeting in October 2014.   Some key points from our submission on the draft are in the May newsletter.

Council commended the high quality of the submissions and responded positively to recommendations, seeking, e.g., more attention to the marine environment, freshwater ecosystems, cat management, and the protection of biodiversity on private land.

The 22-page Action Plan is detailed and ambitious.   The actions are set out under four themes (Protect, Restore, Connect, Research).   The ‘connect’ theme is the major change over the previous strategy.   Its intent includes helping people to encounter nature on a daily basis, and understand the importance and value of biodiversity to their well-being.   These four themes generate forty-nine objectives, which lead to 213 actions.   Each action has a priority (1, 2, 3), a time-frame (short, medium, long, ongoing), and a funding recommendation (new, existing, expand).   For example:
•   Support the capacity of new and existing community groups to engage in pest control and pest plant control.   (Priority 1.   Ongoing.   Expansion of existing funding).
•   Work with local farmers to fence and plant riparian areas on their land.   (Priority 2.   Long term.   New funding).

Two sets of guidelines, eco-sourcing, and community-tiered support, included as appendices in the draft plan, have been removed to allow for further discussion with interested parties such as ourselves.   We can expect an invitation “in the near future”.

There is increased positive acknowledgement of mountain-biking for the role it plays in connecting people to nature.   WCC recognises the tension between helping people access natural areas, and protecting ecologically sensitive areas from further fragmentation.   The development of criteria for track development is likely to involve mountain-bikers, walkers and conservation groups.

In our submission on WCC’s Long-Term Plan 2015-25, we asked Council to announce an increase in funding for implementation of Our Natural Capital.   Council has done so, with an addition of almost $3 million over ten years.   This means staff will be able to start some of the new short-term and ongoing initiatives, and expand some existing programmes.

The final chapter is worth reading as it explains the reasoning behind the goals, objectives and actions.   It also includes many ‘guidelines’ that read like policies or principles.   For example: Restoring the integrity and habitat complexity of our ecologically significant areas is a priority.   Riparian planting will form no less than 20% of total WCC planting per annum and focus on areas requiring shading or stream-bank stabilisation.

Community groups will be engaged in monitoring specific sites and species, and given the support and training required.

Perhaps the most welcome news in Our Natural Capital is WCC’s commitment to expand the number of hectares of ecologically significant public land under integrated pest control from 52% in 2014, to meet the agreed target of 70% by 2020, and 100% by 2025.   The development of a revised pest-management plan is one of the short-term, priority actions.

Bev Abbott, Submissions Coordinator

QSMs awarded to Brian Rance and Chris Rance

We congratulate BotSoccers Brian and Chris who in the Queen’s Birthday Honours were each awarded a Queen’s Service Medal for services to conservation.   Their decades of work professionally, and as volunteers running their plant nursery, and organising revegetation and pest control workbees, near Invercargill, have been rightly recognised.

The committee

Tradescantia eliminated from Stephens Island

For details about the methods used, contact Jamie MacKay: jamie.mackay (at)

Books for sale

We thank Alison Druce for donating the following books from the collection of her parents, Tony and Helen Druce, Sheena Hudson for bringing the books from Alison, her neighbour, and Dr Carol West for setting the reserve price on each.   The money raised will be Alison’s contribution to our Jubilee Award Fund.   Thank you, Alison!
•   NZ plants and their story.   L Cockayne.   4th edition.   1967.   269 pp.   $30.00.
•   Plants of NZ.   R M Laing and E W Blackwell.   5th edition – revised 1953 (?).   499 pp, dust wrapper.   $40.00.
•   NZ native plant studies.   W C Davies.   1956.   328 pp.   Some foxing on cover.   $40.00.
•   The trees and shrubs of NZ.   L Cockayne and E Phillips Turner.   1938.   176 pp.

The committee

Wellington Botanical Society 2015/16 committee

At the 76th Annual General Meeting, held on 17 August 2015, the following were elected:

President Karen Palmer 499 1381
Vice-Presidents Lara Shepherd 384 7147
                Owen Spearpoint 562 8780
Secretary Barbara Clark 233 8202
Treasurer Lea Robertson 473 8211
Auditor Rita Chin 802 5278
Committee Eleanor Burton 479 0497
                Frances Forsyth 384 8891
                Richard Herbert 232 6828
                Chris Horne 475 7025
                Sunita Singh 387 9955
Submissions co-ordinator Bev Abbott 475 8468
Bulletin Editor Leon Perrie 381 7261 (w)

President’s Report to the 76th Annual General Meeting

Once again this has been a stimulating and interesting year for WBS.   My special thanks go to Richard Herbert who continued as interim President until November 2014, as well as being a Vice-President.   The highlights of the year included the summer camp held at Nelson Lakes National Park and vicinity, attended by 39 BotSoccers, and the AP Druce Memorial Lecture 2014 given by John Barkla, Partnership Ranger, DOC Coastal Otago District, entitled ‘The special plants and places of Otago’.

Membership: 2014/2015

There was a slight decrease in membership recorded over the year.   It now comprises 108 Ordinary Members, 37 Country Members, 59 Group Members, 34 Life Members, and 4 Student Members.   Thus the total membership figure is 242, down from 251 last year.

Thirteen members, including four couples, resigned during the year for various reasons, e.g., family commitments, health, and shifts out of the region.   We wish them well.   We welcomed eight new members, including two people who have rejoined.

We acknowledge the deaths of four long-standing Society members.   Two life members, Dr David Galloway of Otago, and Dr Elizabeth Brown of New South Wales, died in December 2014 and November 2013 respectively.   Esme Finch and Dave Holey, who both joined the Society in the 1990s, died in June and September 2014.


The main field trip of the year was the summer camp at Nelson Lakes National Park and vicinity attended by 39 BotSoccers.   The Travers Sabine Lodge was an ideal base for forays to Beeby’s Knob, Red Hills, Parachute Rock on the St Arnaud Range, and Rainbow Ski Field.   The last day was spent in the Upper Wairau Valley – a 4WD special with stops in unusual settings for unusual plants.   Thanks to Mick Parsons and his committee members, his contacts and the many supporters who made this such a great trip.   A full report appears in the BotSoc newsletter May 2015.

We made twelve field trips around the Greater Wellington area with two others cancelled.   Sadly one of trip was cancelled because of lack of member interest.   Species lists for native and exotic vegetation were prepared for each trip.   The updated lists are lodged with the private owner, or land managing agency, as well as the NZ Plant Conservation Network.   Two workbees were held at Te Marua Bush, a bush remnant in Kaitoke Regional Park where BotSoc works in partnership with Wellington Regional Council and Upper Hutt Branch, Forest and Bird Society.   Detailed trip reports are published in the newsletters.   The average attendance at field trips and workbees is fifteen members.

The list of trips undertaken appears at the end of this report.


Ten meetings were held on the third Monday of each month from February to November.   The average attendance at the ten meetings was 37 members.   The best attended meeting of 47 members was the talk by Catherine Kirby, author of Field Guide to Epiphytes, Vines and Mistletoes, about the research project that resulted in the Field Guide.   The lowest number of members, only 21, was recorded at Members’ Evening, perhaps begging the question about the value of this evening in future.

A ‘Plant of the Month’ talk was presented by members at three meetings.   We hope that this activity will increase to one at each meeting.   A plant of interest to you, exotic or native, that others may not know much about, could be an excellent talking point.   Lara Shepherd would be pleased to hear from you.

A detailed list of the meetings is at the end of this report.


Three newsletters were produced during the year – September and December 2014, and May 2015.   Thank you to Chris Horne for compiling the newsletters, and to Jeremy Rolfe for formatting and finalising their production.   The newsletter is now posted mainly to members without access to e-mail, and to non-member related organisation.   Members receive an e-mail alert that the newsletter is available on the web site.   Members can then print some or all of the newsletter for their use as they wish.   The newsletter is a valuable source of information for members, as well as a record of BotSoc’s activities.

Web site is managed by Richard Herbert.   It is an excellent public face for BotSoc, and provides a site for the very many enquiries into our activities.   Thank you Julia White for dealing with these requests.

Bulletin No. 55 was published in December 2014.   It is an excellent source of botanical argument and information.   Our congratulations to Leon Perrie, the Editor.

Community outreach
•   The Society provided judges for the 2014 NIWA Wellington Science and Technology Fair.   The Science Prize winner spoke about her study on ‘Green Roofs’ at the November evening meeting.
•   The newsletter was distributed to related organisations, libraries and Citizen Advice Bureaux.
•   Our field trips, open to the public, are advertised in the Wellington Glean Report.
•   We supported the annual Otari-Wilton’s Bush Open Day.


The Society has continued to make submissions on local, regional and national draft plans and strategies that affect NZ’s indigenous plants and ecosystems.   Bev Abbott was again co-opted on to the committee as Submissions Coordinator.   She has put a large amount of time into researching and drafting submissions for the committee to consider, including providing BotSoc’s view to hearings.   Thank you, Bev, for your hard work.

These responses to draft plans and strategies are a very effective way of informing the public about the ecological and biodiversity values that the Wellington Botanical Society represents.   A summary of the submissions is published in each newsletter.

The submissions presented this year:
•   Draft Suburban Reserves Management Plan, Wellington City Council (WCC)
•   Our Natural Capital - Draft Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, WCC
•   Draft Natural Resources Plan, Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC)
•   Draft Long-term Plan, 2015-2025, WCC
•   Draft Statement of Service Provision, WCC
•   Draft Implementation Plan for the Draft Wellington Urban Growth Plan 2014 – 2043, WCC
•   Draft Infrastructure Strategy, 2015-2045, WCC
•   Draft Long-term Plan 2015-25, Porirua City Council
•   Draft Long-term Plan 2015-25, GWRC


•   Jubilee Award 2014 was awarded to Debra Wotton for research into whether Muehlenbeckia astonii forms a persistent seed bank.
•   Arnold and Ruth Dench Award 2014 was presented to Debra Wotton for research into rarity.
•   VUW School of Biological Sciences – Student Field Grants:
    Gangandeep Jain, for research into whether red pigmentation in Disphyma australe confers advantage in dealing with stress such as salinity
    Kirsty Yule, for research into preferred hosts of puriri moth
    Matt Ryan, for fossil pollen research into changing vegetation in Westland over the last 450,000 years.
•   Tom Moss Student Award in Bryology – No applicants in 2014.
•   2014 NIWA Science Fair Award – Sophie Russell, a year-8 pupil at Northland School.   Her project compared the heat retention and rainwater runoff of three roofing types.   She was able to show that a “Green Roof” planted with Scleranthus, Acaena and small Festuca minimised rainwater run-off, and kept a building cooler than one roofed with corrugated iron, and one roofed with tiles.

The Committee

The committee met bimonthly during the past year at people’s homes.   As no President was elected at the last AGM, Vice-president Richard Herbert continued as Acting President until Karen Palmer took the position in November, confirmed at a Special General Meeting in February 2015.   My special thanks go to Barbara Clark, secretary, and Frances Forsyth, minute secretary, for keeping us up to date with correspondence and minutes.   Thanks also to treasurer, Lea Robertson, who has the financial and membership responsibilities; to Sunita Singh who has continues to organise an amazing variety of guest speakers and field trip programmes, and to Eleanor Burton, Owen Spearpoint, Lara Shepherd and Chris Horne who each contribute so much to the Committee and BotSoc.

Eleanor has arranged for future committee meetings to be held at the Leonard Cockayne Centre, Otari-Wilton’s Bush, a very appropriate setting.

Other acknowledgements

•   Jeremy Rolfe for formatting the newsletter and bulletin
•   Barbara and Kevin Clark for the committee barbeque before the February meeting – great food at a great venue.
•   Mick Parsons and his team for the wonderful summer camp at Nelson Lakes National Park and vicinity, Sunita for the booking arrangements, and all the 4WD drivers!
•   Leon Perrie, editor of the bulletin, contributors, and all those involved in preparing it and distributing it.
•   All our guest speakers and members who contributed to the programme
•   Members who had assisted in the raising of funds for the Jubilee Fund including offering plants for sale, providing and buying books at auction.

Karen Palmer, President

Field trips
Date Locations Attendance
6.9.14 East Harbour Regional Park, Eastbourne side.   Cancelled – drizzle 0
4.10.14 East Harbour Regional Park, Wainuiomata side 16
1.11.14 Gibbs Covenant, Eastbourne 33
15.11.14 Te Marua Bush workbee 9
29 / 30.11.14 Porter’s covenant, Riversdale, Wairarapa.   Cancelled 0
7-13.1.15 Nelson Lakes National Park and Mt Richmond Forest Park 39
14.2.15 Centennial Reserve, Miramar 17
7.3.15 Hawkins Hill 11
3-5.4.15 Horowhenua 14
2.5.15 Rangitatau Reserve, Strathmore 14
6.6.15 Kohekohe Loop Track, Paekakariki 16
13.6.15 Te Marua Bush workbee. 14
4.6.15 Porirua Scenic Reserve – northern area 18
1.8.15 Taparanga Block, Baring Head 22

Evening meetings
Date Subject Attendance
18.8.14 Annual General Meeting.   Druce Memorial Lecture: The special plants and places of Otago. 41
15.9.14 Maori cultivation of NZ plants. 43
20.10.14 Our Natural Capital - Biodiversity Action Plan review. 42
17.11.14 Biodiversity plan for V.U.W.   Kelburn campus.   Science Fair prize winner - How green is a green roof? 23
14.2.15 Regional threat classification.   V.U.W.   Student Field Grant winner -Red algae parasites. 39
16.3.15 Managed honeybees in NZ’s native ecosystems – what’s the buzz? 39
20.4.15 Epiphytes, vines and mistletoes 47
18.5.15 Members’ evening 21
15.6.15 Whareroa Farm Reserve;   V.U.W. Student Field Grant winner - Cliff vegetation, Lord Howe Island 39
20.7.15 Is the decline of bird populations threatening native plants, and can we fix it? 50

Plant of the month
Presentations were made before the main speaker at the following meetings:
Date Presenter Topic
20.10.14 Rodney Lewington Brachyglottis kirkii var. kirkii
17.11.14 Eleanor Burton Celmisia spp., e.g., C. “Mangaweka”.
15.6.15 Carlos Lehnebach Corybas cryptanthus – ghost orchid, hidden orchid.

Annual Report from the Treasurer

Wellington Botanical Society again records a small surplus in the year ended 30 June 2015.

The accounts for the financial year ended 30 June 2015 show a small surplus of $535 on the normal operations of the Society recorded in the General Account.

Operating expenses have been lower than in the previous year; $2,440 for printing, postage, speakers’ and sundry expenses, compared with $3,362 in the year to June 2014.

On the income side, subscriptions received have remained relatively unchanged.   Interest received for the General and Life Accounts showed a decrease from $3,275 to $2,080.   Interest received in any financial year has been dependent on the maturity date of term deposits, and interest rates on offer.   The decrease above reflects receipt in the previous financial year of a couple of two-year term deposits reaching maturity.   Interest income is now compounded and reinvested monthly or quarterly in the main, and annual recorded interest income fluctuations will in future largely reflect changes in interest rates over the financial year.   Currently we have an average interest return of 4.6 % on invested funds, but this is expected to fall over the course of 2015-2016.

The Society has maintained grants at a similar level to previous years.   The Arnold and Ruth Dench NZ Botanical Award of $1,000 was again awarded, and $2,600 was awarded from the Jubilee Award Fund.   $1700 was granted via Student Field Grants, and $150 prize money went on behalf of the Society to a deserving student at the NIWA Science Fair.

Donations to the Jubilee Award Fund were again much appreciated, the total $1085 down from $1910 previously.   Our membership currently stands at 241.

The Wellington Botanical Society proposes to keep subscriptions at the same level as previous years.   Particular thanks are again extended to Rodney Lewington for assistance with the accounts, and other financial advice given to the Society during the course of the 2014-2015 year.

Subscriptions for the year ended 30 June 2016

Subscriptions for the year ending 30 June 2016 are now due, and receipt will be appreciated.   A yellow invoice is attached to the print newsletter, and will be posted to those who receive pdf copy.

Ordinary membership $35
Country $30
Group / family $40
Student $10
(rebate of $5 if paid by 30 November 2015 – unless you choose to forego)

Lea Robertson, Hon Treasurer

Loder Cup winners

We congratulate Neill and Barbara Simpson, joint winners of the Loder Cup, NZ’s most prestigious and oldest conservation ward.   The award was announced by Hon. Maggie Barry, Minister of Conservation, at a ceremony in their home town, Queenstown, in September.   They will receive the cup in Wellington in June 2016.   The cup is awarded annually to a person or group for their outstanding conservation work.

BotSoccers since 1967, Neill’s and Barbara’s work includes maintaining Kelvin Peninsula’s track and reserves network, planting native plants along road reserves, tracks, and on Pig and Pigeon islands in Lake Wakatipu, eradicating wilding pines, and establishing a native plant nursery for and with the support of the community.

They have always been willing to pass on their knowledge of NZ’s native flora and fauna to BotSoccers, and in recent decades to conservation volunteers.   Barbara’s work with school children in Queenstown has been outstanding.   A well deserved recognition of a life time’s dedication.

Source: Mountain Scene, 17 September 2015

Lea Robertson and Rodney Lewington

Baring Head

The Friends of Baring Head and Greater Wellington have discussed the 2015/16 work programme on the Biodiversity Action Plan.   Much was achieved last year, so it makes good sense to build on that foundation.

The new fence will be completed with the installation of three cattle stops; thus excluding stock from the valley escarpment, and most of the river flats.   This will enable us to spray Cape pondweed in the oxbows, and control grass between two scree areas on the escarpment, which may help to reduce mice numbers by reducing their most favoured habitat.   Mice, along with hedgehogs, rats, cats and mustelids, are predators of lizard species.   This year we will be spraying to release plants planted this year, and planting the margins of the oxbows.

Gorse, boxthorn and lupins behind the banded dotterel nesting area were sprayed last year.   This will be repeated this year as increased light levels have caused more germination of lupins.   Council “minder”, Robyn Smith, is contemplating manual weeding on some parts of the foreshore to protect the threatened cushion fields from drifting weed-spray.   She is also investigating the feasibility of stock-proof and rabbit-proof fences to keep animals off these sensitive and precious areas.   Volunteers organised by the Friends will tackle horned poppy infestations along the south beach, now that Fitzroy Bay beaches have essentially been cleared.

To control mammalian pests, a one-hundred-strong network of bait stations (in fenced-off areas), or Timms traps (in grazed areas), will be installed over the whole property for rodent and possum control.   More intensive cat and rodent trap-lines will be laid on parts of the river escarpment to protect lizards from cats and rodents.   We await the results of an intensive trial of self-setting traps on Whitiriea Park’s escarpment to determine if these traps will lower mice numbers on Baring Head.

So, it will be another busy and productive year.   Unfortunately, it won’t be overseen by Robyn Smith who has masterminded the restoration strategy, and driven the programme.   Our loss will be the QEII National Trust’s gain.   However, Robyn enjoys Baring Head so much that she’s offered to act as the Friends’ unofficial ecological adviser.   We really look forward to continuing what has been a perfect relationship.

Colin Ryder Treasurer, Friends of Baring Head

BotSoc Award – NIWA Wellington Science and Technology Fair 2015

This year’s Wellington Botanical Society prize of $150 for the best entry concerning native plants was awarded to Olivia Healey from Upper Hutt College.   Her project, “How ecosystems aff ect native plants”, compared two plots of natives planted one year apart in Trentham Memorial Park.

Olivia measured manuka, coprosma, hebe and kowhai planted in two almost adjacent plots in 2007 and 2008.   The comparative heights of the plants supported her hypothesis that soil moisture and acidity, and shelter from wind and frost, had influenced the growth rates of these native plants.

Olivia had been involved in plantings in one of the plots.   In forming her hypothesis, she had obtained information from locals with a knowledge of the plantings and of the park.   Her presentation showed a good appreciation of scientific method, and her conclusions allowed for the variability of the measurements that are inevitable in such a study.

Rodney Lewington and Chris Moore, judges

War on weeds

War on Weeds

Weed infestations in a number of covenants and other natural places can begin to be tackled, thanks to a successful joint-funding bid by QEII National Trust and Weedbusters NZ.

DOC’s Community Conservation Partnership Fund (CCPF) has granted $500,000 over three years to a joint programme run by Weedbusters NZ and the QEII National Trust.   The grant will be used in priority regions to fund voluntary weed-busting efforts by community groups and covenantors, with regional and local council involvement.

National Trust Chair, James Guild, says weeds have impacted heavily on the health of natural habitats and species, and are ruining the appearance of our rural and natural landscapes.   ‘National Trust covenantors have worked tirelessly, and invested heavily, over years to defend their covenants against weed invasions, but in many cases the problems have become overwhelming.   ‘Regional weed infestations of plants such as old man’s beard have simply become too rife and too expensive for people to deal with on their own’, he says.

National Trust covenantors have established just over 4000 covenants protecting about 180,000 ha of land.   They voluntarily protect significant natural and cultural features across NZ’s modified landscapes where those features are most at risk and least protected.

Guild says the $500,000 will be used to support the weed-busting efforts of community groups and landowners around the country.   The results of this three-year weed-busting purge will provide essential guidance on how a wider-scale programme might be developed in future.   ‘We are not funded to help covenantors with weed and pest control, so the CCPF support is very welcome.   ‘It means they can be supported in the war against weeds through a collaborative programme with landowners, councils, and the community in general,’ he says.

It is also good news for community Weedbusters groups who are tackling various weed issues in their local areas.   ‘Many of these groups are small, but dedicated, and this fund will help them access the essential tools and resources they need to continue their efforts,’ says national Weedbusters coordinator, Carolyn Lewis.

As a first step to becoming part of this national weed-busting effort, local groups doing voluntary weed control are urged to register at

More information:
Queen Elizabeth II National Trust: –

Anne McLean, Senior Communications Advisor, Queen Elizabeth II National Trust, DD: 04 474 1689

Percy Scenic Reserve News

We have done a major clean-up of the southern lawn area, removing many self-sown woody weeds, some of them quite large.   We have planted out parts of this garden, and will fill in gaps next winter.

We have been planting throughout the reserve, as part of our winter planting, filling in gaps and bare areas.   We planted seven Hebe aff. bishopiana in the southern lawn area, taken as cuttings last year from an existing specimen, and a Cordyline indivisa / mountain cabbage tree in the fernery.   It needed to be planted out and we felt the fernery to be the best area for it.

Coming in to spring, we have started taking cuttings and sowing seed to add to the alpine collection.   This is a bid to increase the numbers of individual plants of each species, so ideally we have two or three back-up plants for each species.   At present we have only one specimen of some plants, so if we lose that we will have lost that particular species from the collection.

Cliff Keilty

Why value NZ’s indigenous biodiversity?

Since my talk at the Otari-Wilton’s Bush Open Day on 26 September, I’ve written a blog post asking why we might value NZ’s indigenous biodiversity.

I would welcome your thoughts, especially as comments to the blog!   I’d also be delighted if you shared the post with others.

Dr. Leon Perrie, Curator of Botany, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Uncinia is now Carex

The Global Carex Group has recently published their findings of a worldwide review of the tribe Cariceae in Family Cyperaceae (Global Carex Group 2015).   They argue that the genus Carex should be expanded to include the other genera in the tribe, including Uncinia, because these genera are firmly nested phylogenetically within Carex.   Landcare Research botanist Kerry Ford contributed new combinations in Carex for the New Zealand species of Uncinia (Table 1).   New specific epithets were needed for many of the species because their old names were already in use in Carex.

Table 1.   Name changes resulting from the merger of Uncinia into Carex.

New name in Carex

Global Carex Group.   2015: Making Carex monophyletic (Cyperaceae, tribe Cariceae): a new broader circumscription.   Botanical Journal of the Linnaean Society 179 (1): 1-42.

Source: Trilepidea 141, August 2015

Biodiversity restoration efforts on the Kapiti Coast

This article summarises sizeable projects, initiated and supported by volunteers, on public land on the Kapiti Coast.   Much additional restoration is occurring on private land.

In the late 1980s, June Rowland and a small band of Forest and Bird volunteers began plantings in the dune-swamp kahikatea forest remnant in Queen Elizabeth Park.   A mainstream movement developed from this.

Along the foothills, remnants of original forest cover form a corridor facilitating the movement of birds from the Tararua Range onto the coastal plain.   In 1996, the Friends of Kaitawa Reserve began restoring the 7-ha Kaitawa Reserve in Paraparaumu, to increase biodiversity in a residential setting, and create a place for families, unable to afford a trip to Kapiti Island, to visit and enjoy the birdlife.   The result of the work is that bellbirds, kakariki, kereru, karearea, kotare, tui, etc., visit regularly.   Emergent species including northern rata, rimu, matai, miro, totara, swamp maire, etc., are re-establishing among the primary colonisers.   Plantings have been completed, so the priority is to attempt to eradicate the remaining weeds and animal pests.   The reserve is dissected by Wharemauku Stream, and after Kapiti Coast District Council (KCDC) removed two in-stream barriers, schools of whitebait species, including giant, banded and short-jawed kokopu, plus inanga, inhabit the pools each summer.

After a successful working relationship was established between KCDC and the Kaitawa volunteers, the Friends of Greendale Reserve formed and began a riparian project along Muaupoko Stream, Otaihanga, to revegetate the 3.5-ha reserve, created as a result of subdivision.   The plantings are now complete, providing additional cover over the stream.   The project helps to provide a corridor for birds moving from DOC’s 174-ha Paraparaumu Scenic Reserve, east of SH1, to the coastal plain.   Weed and pest control is being done.   One of the most impressive groves of mature kahikatea in the district is located there.

During public consultation in 1995, to prepare for a flood-plain management plan for the lower reaches of the Waikanae River, Forest and Bird successfully advocated for the inclusion of ecological and recreational corridors along the river margins.   The aim was to complete an ecological corridor linking Kapiti Island, Kapiti Marine Reserve and Waikanae Estuary Scientific Reserve, with the Tararuas.   In 1998, plantings and weed control began on the south bank, upstream from Otaihanga Domain.   The project benefited from the formation of the Friends of Waikanae Estuary, and the Friends of the Waikanae River, plus support from KCDC, Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) and DOC.   More recently, the chance for the development of wider linkages on the south bank arose, after KCDC purchased 60 ha of adjoining farm land, Otaraua Park, for development as a sporting and recreational complex.   The project also benefited when KCDC entered into a partnership arrangement under Transpower’s Greenline environmental programme, enabling 15,000 additional plants to be planted.

As aging impacted on the volunteers, concern arose over whether the improvements achieved, in the above three projects, could be maintained.   So Forest and Bird members initiated the formation of the Kapiti Ecological Restoration Maintenance Trust.   Funded and supported by KCDC, this has been of great benefit, enabling the engagement of a contractor with the necessary skills and qualifications, to work with the volunteers.   KCDC has demonstrated additional support by employing two staff members to assist the twenty-one volunteer groups recognised by the Council.

At the southern end of the district, the former Landcorp farm, Whareroa, is now controlled by DOC.   In 2006, the Guardians of Whareroa group formed to develop the block under an integrated conservation strategy.   The plan involves restoring bush remnants, developing some 60 ha as a recreation reserve for walking, horse riding, mountain biking and picnicking activities, and leasing the remaining 180 ha for farming.

To the west of Whareroa Farm and SH1, lies the 650-ha Queen Elizabeth Park, controlled by DOC, but managed by GWRC as an extremely popular regional park, attracting more than 400,000 visitors annually.   Some 360 ha is leased for farming, with the public having access to the remaining area, catering for a wide range of recreational pursuits.   The Friends of QE Park Trust, supported by GWRC, developed and are implementing a plan which includes restoration plantings, plus additional recreational opportunities.   Evidence of the positive relationship that exists between the Friends, GWRC, and local residents, can be judged from the following example.   When GWRC provided 10,000 plants to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the group’s founding, public support was such that all plants were planted in under three hours.

Nga Uruora, a well-established group based in Paekakariki, aims to create a continuous ribbon of bird-safe native forest from Porirua to Waikanae.   To date, most effort, including pest control, has been concentrated on the steep and difficult railway reserve across the coastal escarpment, east of Centennial Highway, between Paekakariki and Pukerua Bay.

The Friends of QE Park have recently been awarded a major grant from MfE’s Biodiversity Fund for a biodiversity project in the park, and pest-control on areas worked on by the Guardians of Whareroa and Nga Uruora.   This project may feature in a subsequent article.

North of the Waikanae River is KCDC’s Pharazyn Reserve Project.   Formerly a sewage treatment facility, the ponds are being rehabilitated as a recreation reserve and waterfowl habitat.   The reserve includes dune areas on the seaward side of Rutherford Drive.   KCDC has installed a bird-hide, and is investing in further development of this reserve.   The Waimeha Lagoon Restoration Group is active in restoring the lagoon, surrounding wetlands and dunes.

In Otaki, The Friends of Otaki River was formed to represent the community in the management and development of the Otaki River.   Supported by GWRC, large-scale riparian plantings have been made, and continue, on the flood plains.   In the lower reaches, the Waitohu Stream Care group continues to work on improving the margins of the stream.

KCDC and GWRC have engaged specialist contractors to control marram grass and other invasive weeds on the coastal dunes between Paekakariki and Otaki.   Encouraged by KCDC, six community groups and private landowners are focussing on dune restoration, with impressive results being obtained on the fore-dunes.

Both councils have increased their pest-animal control programmes in recent years.   GWRC is boosting possum control through its first district-wide scheme encompassing both public and private land.   KCDC is likewise establishing stoat-trap lines through its significant bush reserves, and subsidising pest control in ecological sites on private land.

Separately, contract plantings as part of the Kapiti Expressway project, will see the planting of over one million eco-sourced plants, and the creation of 11 ha of new wetlands.   Nga Manu Nature Reserve, a private sanctuary, has a modern educational facility and is expanding its educational role.

The amount of volunteer support is evidence of an awareness of the impacting ecological crisis, coupled with a willingness to do something about it.   The degree of cohesion between councils and volunteers is pleasing, and something that has not existed previously.   Many people in this district support the vision of living more harmoniously with Nature, so it has been most satisfying to be included among them.

John McLachlan

Obituary – Dr Grace Suckling 1922 –2015

Grace Suckling
Grace Suckling

Dr Grace Suckling, a life member of Wellington Botanical Society, died at the age of 93 on 20 July 2015.   Born in Dundee, Grace started her working life in Scotland practising in children’s dentistry.   She spent time in London for further study and practice.   It was there that she met her husband, Gavin, and in 1956 they settled in Wellington, and raised five children.   Grace joined WBS in 1968, the same year as she joined the Dental Research Unit in Wellington, and became seriously interested in researching children’s dental problems.   After retiring, Grace obtained her Doctorate of Dental Science at the age of 72 (the first woman to do so) and continued her promotion of dental health through submissions and advocacy.   In 2013 she was made Patron of the D3G group (Australia and NZ Developmental Dental Defects Group), which described her as a research pioneer.   Grace was an active member of BotSoc in the 1970s and early 80s, and was a founding member of the “Sunday Walking Group” – an informal group, mainly members of BotSoc who had attended WEA botany classes.   Her last recorded outing with BotSoc appears to be in 2006 when she guided a group of us on a tour of Nga Manu.   When she retired, Grace built a house at Waikanae, and her botanical attention turned to Waikanae lagoon and Nga Manu Nature Reserve.   There she was quickly co-opted as a volunteer guide, and helped advance knowledge of tuatara teeth.   Her analytical mind turned to identifying all ferns in the reserve and she produced a booklet on these.   She was an active, enthusiastic member of groups in the Waikanae area, and her positive influence and support will be missed by many.   A comment by a visitor to Nga Manu in 2012 sums up Grace as “ a very able-bodied and able-minded 90-year old who shared her knowledge of ferns” and, one could add, all things dental, botanical and ornithological.   Members may find a recent interview with Grace on the dental side of her life of interest at:

Lea Robertson and Rodney Lewington

Distorted growth in cabbage trees

Distorted growth in cabbage trees
Distorted growth in cabbage trees

I saw this cabbage tree at Waikanae early this year.   The affected shoot, c. 2m high, was one of four or five new shoots from an old, dead, cabbage tree - none of the other shoots were affected.   I thought it might be the result of insect damage, so I sent the details to Landcare Research.   They replied saying:

Thanks for sending the photo.   Quite different from the bug pictures I usually see.   I’ve shown it to several colleagues, including a botanist and a fungal expert.   Several of us have seen something similar, but no-one had a ready explanation.   Possibly it is a form of epinasty.   That is, distortion caused by differential growth rates of cells in upper and under surfaces of leaves, which can have a number of causes, including root flooding and boron deficiency.

I have since heard from someone who works in the plant restoration business in the Kapiti area that they had seen another specimen some time ago.

Allan Sheppard

Kapiti Coast biodiversity project

This project was launched by Environment Minister Nick Smith on 24 June at Queen Elizabeth Park.   It is the brainchild of John Lancashire, Whareroa Guardians trustee, and previous Chair of the Friends of QE Park.   A grant of nearly $300,000 over three years will fund various biodiversity “strands”, including dune and stream enhancement, studies of weta and lizards, bird recovery, and a significant pest management strategy.   There will be much practical work for volunteers working with experts in each field.   Before and after status will be monitored.   The aim is to study and improve practical ways to enhance biodiversity from Pukerua Bay to Raumati South.   The three groups involved are Friends of QE Park, Nga Uruora and Whareroa Guardians.   Whareroa Farm is at the core, being the connection between QE Park and Akatarawa Forest, having significant native forest remnants, and the upper catchment of Whareroa Stream.   Exciting times are ahead.

Source: Whareroa Guardians Community Trust update, 3 July 15

Common Ground: who’s who in New Zealand botanical names – Val Smith

Common Ground
Common Ground

A4 format, 304 pages, soft cover.   Published in a limited edition by Wordsmith, New Plymouth, assisted by Wellington Botanical Society’s Jubilee Fund and the George Mason Charitable Trust ISBN 978-0-473-30847-6

This book brings together the stories of 250 people commemorated in New Zealand botanical names, not only of flowering plants, but also ferns, seaweeds, mosses, lichens and fungi.   Arranged chronologically from the Greek philosopher Aristotle, 384 BC-322 BC, (Aristotelia serrata – makomako or wineberry) to contemporary New Zealand botanists, Common Ground includes early European physicians and herbalists, later explorers and scientists, New Zealand pioneer settlers and visitors, and locally born and educated naturalists.   Each biographical entry is on a separate page, accompanied by a relevant colour image and plant information.   A social and botanical history with an amazing number of connections is revealed.

Price: $30.00 (plus $5.00 postage within NZ)

Orders and enquiries to: Val Smith, valdsmit (at), phone 06 758 3521, 80 Mill Rd, Lower Vogeltown, New Plymouth 4310.

Swamp maire at Lake Papaitonga

swamp maire
The distinctive aerial roots of swamp maire.   Photo: Colin Ogle.

In the May newsletter, I compared the species BotSoc saw at Lake Papaitonga at Easter 2015, with those reported by Wassilieff and Clark in 1984.   This produced a quick response from Colin Ogle.   He recalls showing swamp maire to BotSoc at Lake Papaitonga on 7.11.1998.   He remembers getting down on the ground beside the boardwalk and pointing out that the aerial roots of swamp maire are a good way of recognising the tree if the foliage is out of reach.

Maggy Wassilieff explained that the 1984 species list was a by-product of a Lands and Survey research contract to map and describe the diverse ecosystems at Lake Papaitonga.   The methodology specified a walk of the perimeter, and to the highest point.   Time constraints were tight, so producing a complete vascular species list was not on the agenda.

The species list for Papaitonga and environs, published in 1985 by F.C. Duguid, was compiled from 1940 onwards, and also records frequencies.   It describes swamp maire as ‘abundant’ (A).   See BotSoc Bulletin No. 42.   I’ll be going back for a closer look to see if I can find it.

Bev Abbott

May 2015 News


Every three years, Wellington City Council (WCC) and Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) seek comments on their draft Long-term Plans.   This year WCC also consulted on a draft Biodiversity Action Plan called Our Natural Capital, a draft Urban Growth Plan, their first draft 30-year infrastructure plan, and several place-based projects.   Oral submissions, time limit 10 minutes, provide an opportunity to speak to councillors and answer their questions.

WCC draft Our Natural Capital (Biodiversity Action Plan)

This 80-page plan is sound, comprehensive and ambitious.   We sought to make it even better by providing 20 pages of comments, new ideas and information to assist with its implementation.   The following ten points illustrate the diversity of our input:
•   expressed concern at the limited attention to plants – only four species mentioned in the overview of Wellington’s biodiversity, all monocots
•   our top priority for action – to review the Pest Management Strategy and Implementation Plan
•   our second priority – better protection for biodiversity values at risk from subdivisions, by updating Chapter 18 of the District Plan (Conservation Sites), operational since June 2000.   WCC has identified 517 ecologically significant sites - some may be at risk if the District Plan is not updated, because there is now no public consultation on subdivisions in the new Special Housing Areas
•   supported increasing the structural integrity and species diversity of damaged, regenerating and restoration forests through plantings
•   supported an informal and educative approach to working with restoration groups, replacing a recommendation in BotSoc’s submission on WCC’s draft Suburban Reserves Management Plan recommending formal MOUs
•   recommended establishing a teaching garden where volunteers and contractors can learn to distinguish between pairs of similar-looking plants, one a native, one a weed
•   supported increased emphasis on biodiversity research
•   recommended a review of WCC’s eco-sourcing guidelines following wider discussions and reports about eco-sourcing practices in different contexts, e.g., purpose of planting, scale of planting, habitats, results achieved, etc.
•   questioned the intention to capture “all biodiversity information, e.g., location and species data related to WCC in one location”.   We wondered if this a combined data-base for information held by herbaria, GWRC, DOC and different parts of WCC, including Otari recommended support for communities wanting to remove sycamores from road reserves.

WCC draft Long-term Plan (LTP) and draft Statement of Service Provision (SSP)

WCC’s draft LTP is focused on its ‘agenda for growth’.   Biodiversity was barely mentioned until page 42 where readers were referred to Our Natural Capital to find out what Council was proposing to do.   Our submission asked Council to announce increased funding to support implementation of Our Natural Capital, e.g., funding for post-doctoral fellowships to answer the research questions in Our Natural Capital.

The draft SSP contained some unpleasant surprises.   Text describing WCC’s roles in biodiversity management had been deleted.   We asked WCC to put it back.   We also suggested improvements to the performance measures, e.g., the number of hectares of open space under active weed management, and changes in the amount of open space in different parts of the city.

WCC draft Urban Growth Plan (UGP) and Implementation Plan

The draft UGP sets out how WCC intends to support a planned increase in the city’s population from 200,000 to nearly 250,000 over the next 30 years, mostly in the northern suburbs and central city.   There is only one natural environment project in the list of 21 flagship projects – the Watts Peninsula Reserve project, which is a long way from the growth areas.   We’ve encouraged WCC to review its planning and funding for open space and indigenous plantings, particularly in the central city.

WCC draft Infrastructure Strategy

Thirty-year infrastructure strategies are a new requirement under amendments to the Local Government Act.   We commented on only two sections.   With one eye on Wellington’s aging population, we asked for increased investment in tracks accessible to people with limited mobility.   We also called for earlier investment in improving the performance of Wellington’s storm-water system, particularly water quality.   Initiatives underway include the voluntary Water Sensitive Urban Design and Integrated Catchment Management plans.   GWRC, however, is not planning to start the whaitua process for Wellington Harbour, the Hutt River and other Wellington waterways until 2017/18.   By then, GW may have been disestablished, and the responsibility passed to a new united council.

GWRC draft Long-term Plan

Our brief submission raised concerns about GWRC’s proposal to reduce the number of high-value biodiversity sites under active management from 120 to 80 for the next three years.   GWRC described this as “no significant change to current levels of service” as it is due to “a redirection of sites to only those fully resourced and operationally managed by GWRC”.   We are trying to find out what sites have been “dropped” and what will happen to them.

Bev Abbott, Submissions Coordinator.

Letters to the editor

We would welcome your comments on any aspect of BotSoc’s activities:
•   places you would like to visit on field trips
•   topics you would like to have covered in evening meetings
•   topics you would like covered in BotSoc’s Bulletin and Newsletter
•   other matters of concern or interest to you.

If you would like to offer to lead a field trip, or be a deputy leader on a field trip, please contact our programme organiser, Sunita Singh, sunita (at)

Thank you, The committee

DOC starts reviewing Wellington CMS

The review of the Wellington Conservation Management Strategy 1996-2005 has begun.   Pre-draft consultation will end this month – BotSoc will be represented at a public meeting this month.   The draft CMS will be publicly notified, possibly by November 2015, and submissions called for.

You can, however, have some influence now.   A short survey on DOC’s web site seeks public feedback on places you visit regularly, what you do at those sites, what you value about them, and what you want them to be like in 10 years’ time.   I used the survey form as an individual to remind DOC that sites such as “The Puffer” track in Tararua Forest Park are more than just places you pass through en route to somewhere else.   I mentioned the enjoyable day BotSoc spent botanising there in 2011.   My aspirations for 10 years’ hence included not seeing any sign of Pinus radiata or P. contorta; not fearing being run into by out-of-control mountain-bikers, hoping that all the indigenous species on the plant list are still there, especially the orchids, and hoping there were no new adventives.   There’s also a space to talk about regional issues.

Action: DOC may want to hear only about places people visit regularly, but perhaps there are other places you’d like them to hear about.

Bev Abbott

Otari-Wilton’s Bush news

Tena koutou BotSoc.   Work has begun on our lower collection areas to realign paths as our 2010 Landscape Development Plan recommended.   Gavin Dench and Simon Fern are doing the initial landscaping.   Their excellent eye for design and detail will produce a dry-stone wall in keeping with the area, and help to level a site so we can develop a garden to interpret plant adaptations.   This will replace the Pittosporum border, a collection we have struggled with to be representative of the genus.

In our nursery, we have sown Mida salicifolia seed from Khandallah Park.   This hemi-parasitic tree grows to 6 m tall.   It is uncommon around Wellington.   We want to see if we can grow some in the gardens at Otari.   Known hosts are rimu, kauri and tanekaha.   We’ve sown some with no treatment, some scarified, and some in pots with the known hosts.   If you have any experience with germinating Mida salicifolia, please tell us: otari (at)

Finn and I recently returned from Canterbury on a seed-collecting trip for Otari and the NZ Indigenous Flora Seed Bank.   We visited Arthur’s Pass National Park and the Craigieburn Range, collecting several species for Otari, and seed of four species for the NZ Seed Bank.   I hadn’t appreciated the role that Leonard Cockayne had played in the formation of the national park; the DOC visitor centre has a lovely area set aside dedicated to him and his involvement with the park.   We had considerable pleasure ascending Mt Cockayne (never before had we spent a day high on Cockayne) in the Craigieburn Range, and spotted the yellow-flowered Euphrasia cockayneana in the Otira Valley.

Matariki is approaching.   We are planning an event on the weekend of 20-21 June – a celebration of the use of NZ plants, centred on harakeke (NZ flax).   Enjoy demonstrations by local harakeke weavers, and Curator-led walks through Otari.   You will be able to try harakeke weaving, and hear stories about other useful plants of Aotearoa.   This event is for the whole family.   The Otari-Wilton’s Bush Trust will lead walks looking at traditional uses of NZ plants.

Rewi Elliot, Manager, Otari-Wilton’s Bush, Phone 021 227 8169, Email otari (at)

Percy Scenic Reserve news

Many plants in the reserve struggled with the drought, as I expect happened around NZ.   The heat has not helped the alpine collection, with many plants struggling.   Their plight was added to by the change of alpine potting mix in recent years to a proprietary brand, with an overly coarse chip, and extra long-term fertiliser added.   Analysis showed it to be extremely high in most areas, with nitrates being in the high 200s, where a reading of 20 to 30 would be ideal.

Hutt City Council seeks to provide guidelines for the upkeep of the collections by producing a manual for running the reserve and alpine collection.   I hope this will allow for an easier transition for future collection managers, prevent problems such as we have with the potting mix, and the problems with finding information which I have faced.   I have been on my own again, or working with temps, since Des left early this year.   Staff changes are a less than ideal situation.

Cliff Keilty

Ambassador brings new focus to threatened species

NZ’s vulnerable native species will gain another strong voice for their protection, with the announcement of the country’s first Threatened Species Ambassador.   Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says the high-profile new role will be pivotal in educating people and raising awareness of our threatened species.   “We all need to know about the unique birds, animals and plants which are our taonga, and understand the efforts needed to conserve them,” Ms Barry says.

The role of the Ambassador, to be based in DOC, will be supported by Air New Zealand for two years, an expansion of its current partnership arrangement with DOC.   The Ambassador will work with iwi, conservation groups, regional and local government, schools and businesses, to help raise awareness, and reduce the risk of threatened species becoming extinct.   Ms Barry notes that our native animals, plants and special landscapes are important from a biodiversity point of view, and they benefit the economy, attracting millions of dollars in tourism spending each year.   Ms Barry says “Conservation isn’t just an issue for one government department.   Protecting NZ’s unique nature lies in all our hands, and the new Ambassador will play a key role in making this happen.”   Recruitment for the position will begin soon.

Source: news release by Hon Maggie Barry, Minister of Conservation

NZ Birds Online

We have passed the milestone of 8000 images contributed to NZ Birds Online – an increase of more than 1400 since the web site was launched 22 months ago.

For more information, including the 8000th image, see:

Colin Miskelly, Curator Terrestrial Vertebrates Museum of NZ Te Papa Tongarewa, Email colin.miskelly (at)

NZ Tree Project

I have brought together a team of scientists, artists (photo and video), and tree climbers, with the grand aim of combining some highly technical climbing skills with some cutting-edge photographic techniques to create a state-of-the-art exhibition about …   A TREE!   The project is in Pureora Forest.   We are designing and constructing a specialised rigging system to capture images of a Pureora rimu from a level viewpoint and without distortion.   The exhibition will showcase the tree through a larger-than-life, 3D experience, and will be a celebration of NZ’s fabulous forests.

To follow their exciting progress on the web site and facebook, etc., see the message and links below:

For more details:


This is a truly exciting project which we hope will inspire and educate a broad audience about the beauty and importance of NZ’s forests, while motivating them to protect and restore these wondrous places.

Catherine Kirby, Research Support Officer, Environmental Research Institute, Phone 07 838 4466 ext. 6517, University of Waikato, PBag 3105, Hamilton 3240

Te Marua Bush

Our submission on Greater Wellington Regional Council’s draft Key Native Ecosystem (KNE) Plan for Kaitoke Regional Park focussed on BotSoc’s involvement with GWRC in the management of Te Marua Bush, Upper Hutt.   GWRC does an excellent job of responding to points made by submitters.   One particular point to note is that GWRC’s Parks Department will seek to establish a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with BotSoc regarding the two parties’ relationship and responsibilities in the management of this part of the park.

Bev Abbott

Neill Simpson QSM

BotSoc congratulates Neill, who was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal in the New Year’s Honours, for services to conservation.

Neill and Barbara Simpson
Neill and Barbara Simpson

Neill and wife Barbara have spent almost two decades since Neill ‘retired’, organising the propagation and planting of native plants, and contributing to conservation education in the Queenstown community.   Typical of this pair – having got Pigeon Island in Lake Wakatipu planted up and thriving, they then helped form the Wakatipu Reforestation Trust.   Neill is chairman and Barb organises the volunteer groups propagating native plants in a nursery with specially built shade houses.

Neill and Barbara have been coming out with BotSoc since 1967.   Older BotSoccers will remember the Simpson family from when Neill worked for the Dept. of Lands and Survey (and its reincarnations).   Where ever they were based, Wellington BotSoc would sooner or later have a camp nearby.   Each time we took advantage of Neill’s knowledge of the geography and the botany - Whanganui River, Maruia Springs, and Queenstown on the banks of the Shotover come to mind.

We congratulate Neill on the award of the QSM.   It is a fitting recognition of his, or should it be their, services to conservation.   This adds, among other recognitions, to the 2014 Inland Otago Conservation Award, the Queenstown Lakes Civic Award, the Allan Mere Award, and a nomination for the New Zealander of the Year.

Rodney Lewington and Darea Sherratt

Baring Head

Our first progress report on the implementation of Baring Head’s Biodiversity Action Plan has been sent to DOC staff who administer the Community Conservation Partnership Fund.

The new fence will protect the river, oxbows on the river flat, and the river escarpment from stock, and enable us to do some riparian plantings for erosion control, and to enhance lizard “hotspots” on the escarpment, and inanga habitat.   We’d welcome your help with planting soon to begin.

Eco-sourced plants have been ordered from commercial and community nurseries.   Gary James, who manages Wellington Forest and Bird’s nursery, will supply most requirements.   Seed has been collected over summer and autumn, and given to nurseries to grow for 2016 plantings.   Several oxbows will be sprayed, to be ready for planting with appropriate native species.

We are pleased with fledging success at the banded dotterel colony under intensive management.   Another spotted skink has been found in one of our lizard “hotspots”.   Horned poppy / Glaucium flavum, has effectively been removed from the peninsula’s Fitzroy Bay side, because a recent final sweep found very few remaining.   We will now focus on the southern beach.   An intrepid abseiler has been removing karo / Pittosporum crassifolium from the cliffs below the lighthouse.

Pest control continues, with many stoats and weasels trapped.   Bait stations will control possums and rodents.   Mice numbers are high now, because we are killing apex predators, which are taking bait from many traps, although I did catch four baby mice in one DOC200!   We have received funding from the Infinity Foundation to install and service a trap line along the Orongorongo Station boundary, as another line of defence for the banded dotterels.

As always, we seek volunteers to help with several projects.   If you are interested, please contact Paula Warren: pwarren (at)

Colin Ryder, Treasurer, Friends of Baring Head

Watts Peninsula

The planning advisory group has finished its workshops.   Officials are now drafting a Cabinet paper to outline the area’s values, and suggest several management / governance options for Minsters to consider.   I have being pushing hard for meaningful community involvement in whatever structure is approved.

I was out of town during the session on conservation and recreational values, so I put forward my ideas.   In summary, these were:

  1. Subject to an ecological assessment of the whole property, the only areas with existing high conservation values are those already identified by DOC.   Given this, the protection and enhancement of the site’s other values (landscape, historical, cultural, and recreational) should have priority where these are important, outside the identified conservation zones.   However, there may be large areas where ecological restoration would not impact on those other values, and might even enhance them.
  2. Based on my experience, including with Mana Island, and what I have seen happening around Wellington (e.g., Makara Peak), I am confident that the community can undertake most of the work necessary, mainly weeding and planting.
  3. Watts Peninsula would provide an ideal core area for a pest-free Miramar Peninsula (apart from cats), thus providing a relatively safe haven for many native bird species.
  4. Penguins nest on the property, so could provide a focus for community involvement (e.g., enrichment planting; installing nesting boxes).   Their survival rates would rise if the road from Shelly Bay to Scorching Bay were closed from dusk to dawn.   This would have the additional benefit of improving security over the site, by restricting access during the periods of greatest risk.
  5. Opportunities should be taken to improve ecological connectivity.

Colin Ryder, Convenor, Watts Peninsula Coalition

Wellington’s South-west Peninsula: Goat control

Since 2011, c. 5,000 goats have been shot here in the programme WCC runs to protect 4,180 ha, including large tracts with high ecological values.   Goats have also been mustered from surrounding areas and shot by landowners on their own properties.   With browser pressure now at low levels, there is a marked improvement in the area’s native vegetation cover, including on this Trust’s property (Long Gully Bush Reserve), where fencing and shooting have led to significant reductions in browsing impacts on indigenous biodiversity.   We now plan to investigate the costs and logistics of expanding the existing programme to a further 7,000 ha.

The long-term objective is to eradicate this pest from the peninsula.   Several landowners, including this Trust, already control other pests, e.g., pigs, possums, rodents and mustelids, at their own expense.   Additional support is required to extend and intensify this effort.   Removal of browser pressure has led to weed species proliferating, e.g., Darwin’s barberry, blackberry and broom, so these must be controlled urgently, because they hinder wider pest control efforts and regeneration.

The Wellington Natural Heritage Trust applied to the Community Conservation Partnership Fund on behalf of several major stakeholders.   The funding sought will enable us entrench past successes and to build on these, to make this project sustainable.   This could include extending the area under control, and the range of pests being targeted.   Stakeholders need to have information on what pest control / eradication on the peninsula can be practically and cost-effectively achieved and defended, given the level of community support and participation involved.   They will also need to know how each can contribute, and what methods could be used.   At this stage, the funding required to complete the project will be more clearly defined.   Funding and resourcing options to implement the planned project could be explored as a part of the work.

Colin Ryder, Chair, Wellington Natural Heritage Trust

QEII National Trust registers 4000th covenant!

Keith and Margaret Ormsby have two covenants on their 250 ha dairy farm at Otorohanga.   Their second covenant, registered in February, is the 4000th registered with the National Trust.   The farm is near where the first covenant was registered in 1979 by the National Trust’s key founder, Gordon Stephenson, and his wife, Celia.

The Ormsbys have fenced all their waterways and bush areas.   They have permanently protected c. 15ha with National Trust covenants and hope to protect more.   Their covenants protect forest remnants and critically under-protected wetland areas.   Their rich forest remnants contain many species, e.g., tawa, totara, rewarewa, pukatea, mangeao, pigeonwood, kahikatea, rimu, mahoe, kamahi, miro and mamaku.   Birdlife includes kereru, kingfisher / kotare, NZ falcon / karearea, tomtit / miromiro, fantail / piwakawaka, bellbird / korimako and tui.   Keith and Margaret have planted c. 27,000 natives and plan to plant thousands more to restore and enhance their covenants and other natural areas on the farm.

James Guild, National Trust Chair, says this significant milestone signals that the covenanting model continues to work well for landowners.   About 180,000 ha is protected in covenants (an area similar to Stewart Island / Rakiura).   Past and current covenantors can be very proud of this.   ‘It is an achievement that the rest of NZ needs to celebrate,’ he says.

Anne McLean, Senior Communications Advisor, QEII National Trust

December 2014 News


Draft Natural Resources Plan (DNRP) for the Wellington Region

It was disturbing to discover that this vast document, (450 pages), doesn’t deliver integrated catchment management.   The problem goes back to Rule 61 in the Wellington Regional Policy Statement which assigns responsibility for indigenous biodiversity on land to city and district councils through their district plans, but responsibility for indigenous biodiversity in water bodies and coastal water to Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) through the draft Natural Resources Plan.   Pest and weed control, which are vital in protecting and enhancing indigenous biodiversity, also fall outside the DNRP.

The DNRP was prepared by GWRC in partnership with the region’s mana whenua iwi.   It contains draft objectives, policies, rules and / or methods for the use of air, freshwater, coastal marine area, soils, land use, heritage sites, storm-water, waste water and natural hazards.   Whaitua communities have started preparing catchment-based policies and rules for some of the region’s catchments.   We hope they will be asking local and city councils to identify areas of indigenous biodiversity in the catchment that helps protect soils and water quality.

One of the pleasing aspects of the DNRP, however, is its attention to wetlands.   A three-tier hierarchy is proposed.   Three named wetlands are ‘outstanding’, and a table presents criteria for assessing the significance of other wetlands.

Our submission suggested ways of making the document more user-friendly, e.g., more definitions, and introductory notes.   We have also encouraged GWRC to expand the place-based schedules, with more information about the indigenous plants and ecosystems in wetlands, streams, lakes and coastal waters, as has been done for fish and birds.

This consultation process is pre-statutory.   Optimists talk of formal consultation in late 2015.

Draft Suburban Reserves Management Plan 2014

Wellington City Council (WCC) has produced an excellent draft management plan for the 168 Council-administered reserves and open spaces between Khandallah and Miramar.   The draft identifies a primary purpose for each reserve.   From the Society’s perspective, two classifications are of particular interest.   ‘Natural reserves’ provide for the experience of, and / or protection of the natural environment.   ‘Recreation and / or ecological linkages’ which are smaller areas play a useful role in protecting remnant and emergent vegetation, as well as amenity values.   Nine sector maps show the relationship between the 168 reserves, and other open space administered by WCC or the Crown.   The city is fortunate to have so much open space.

Our submission supported WCC’s intent to obtain statutory protection under the Reserves Act for several areas of open space that are not currently protected.   We regard this as more urgent than changing the status of some existing reserves, e.g. from Recreation Reserve to Scenic B.

We’ve also suggested one priority action for each zone to help Council determine its priorities for early implementation.   It has to balance the benefits gained from investing in indigenous biodiversity, with investing in recreation facilities such as sports fields and mountain-biking.   In some zones, we have recommended securing better statutory protection for land under the Reserves Act or the District Plan.   In other zones, tackling major weed control issues seemed the top priority.

Discussion of the draft submission at the November committee meeting identified a number of issues which will require further thought and discussion in the lead up to submitting on Council’s Draft Biodiversity Action Plan which is expected in early 2015.

Bev Abbott, Submissions Coordinator

Letters to the editor

We would welcome your comments on any aspect of BotSoc’s activities:
•   places you would like to visit on field trips.
•   topics you would like to have covered in evening meetings.
•   topics you would like covered in BotSoc’s Bulletin and Newsletter.
•   other matters of concern or interest to you.

If you would like to offer to lead a field trip, or be a deputy leader on a field trip, please contact our programme organiser, Sunita Singh, sunita (at)

Thank you, The committee

BotSoc’s Bulletin

Thanks to the work of Leon Perrie, editor, Jill Goodwin, proof-reader, Jeremy Rolfe, formatter, NZ Print Ltd, Trudi Bruhlmann and Barbara Mitcalfe, envelope fillers, bulletin no. 55 was posted to members on 21 November.   Please tell us if your copy has not arrived.

The committee

Grants and Awards

The following are this year’s award recipients.

Dench Award
•   Debra Wotton, for research into causes of rarity;

Jubilee Award
•   Debra Wotton, for research into how long Muehlenbeckia astonii seed stays viable.

VUW Student Grants
•   Gagandeep Jain, for research into whether red pigmentation in Disphyma australe confers advantages in dealing with stress (such as salinity);
•   Kirsty Yule, for research into preferred hosts of puriri moth;
•   Matt Ryan, for fossil pollen research into changing vegetation in Westland over the last 450,000 years.

Eleanor Burton

E-mail reminders for field trips and evening meetings

If you would like to receive e-mail reminders about BotSoc’s trips and meetings, I am happy to send you a standardised reminder note for each event.   The e-mail would be sent to BotSoccers who are within travelling distance to destinations covered by our field trips, and within reach of Wellington to attend our meetings.

If would like to receive reminders by e-mail, please send your e-mail address to me:   sunita (at)   The e-mail list would not be used for any other purpose.

Sunita Singh, Programme Organiser

Field trips–to go, or not to go

We regret that we had to cancel the 29-30 November field trip to a private QEII National Trust Open Space covenant site in Wairarapa, because we received insufficient indications of interest by Thursday 27 November.   On Friday 28 November, several people rang Sunita, the Wellington contact.   Had they rung earlier, we would not have decided to cancel the trip.

As noted at the top of our ‘Field trips and evening meetings’ programme on page 3 of the newsletter, if you wish to join a Saturday trip, please tell the trip leader on the Thursday p.m. at the latest, or if you wish to join an over-night trip, please tell the trip leader on the Wednesday p.m. at the latest, so that he / she can:
•   contact our hosts, if we are visiting a private area, to confirm the visit
•   print enough copies of a plant species list, if one has been prepared for the site.

The committee

Wanted:   ‘Plant of the Month’ speakers

If you want a captive audience to talk to about your most loved (or hated!) plant, or simply want to practise your public speaking, then you could give a ‘Plant of the Month’ talk at the BotSoc meetings.   These are short talks of only five minutes duration that focus on a plant or plant group, either native or exotic, that might be of interest to the society.

If you would like to volunteer contact Lara at lara.shepherd (at), or phone 381 7379 (work) or 027 378 7664.

Key Native Ecosystem programme

The Key Native Ecosystem (KNE) programme seeks to protect some of the best examples of different ecosystem types in the Wellington region by managing, reducing or removing threats to their values.   Sites with the highest biodiversity values have been identified, and then prioritised for management by Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC).   An interactive map showing the location of KNE sites can be found on the GWRC website at   The layer can be found in the “Our Environment” theme.

All KNEs will be managed in accordance with three-year KNE plans prepared by GWRC’s Biodiversity department in collaboration with landowners and key stakeholders.   These plans outline the ecological values and threats specific to each KNE, set out objectives for biodiversity management, and prescribe the operational actions and budget to work towards achieving the objectives.   KNE plans have been completed for Baring Head/Orua-pouanui, East Harbour Northern Forest, Parangarahu Lakes Area, Queen Elizabeth Park and Whitireia Coast.   Links to these plans can be found at:

In the next year plans for another 36 KNE sites will be developed.   If you have any questions about the KNE programme, contact Richard Romijn at GWRC.

Richard Romijn, Team Leader, Biodiversity Management, Greater Wellington Regional Council Te Pane Matua Taio

Haywards Scenic Reserve

During our field trip to this Lower Hutt reserve on 5 July, Bev Abbott discovered holes in a bank, with the piles of discarded soil around them.   These may have been made by the big black and white dragonfly - Uropetala carorvei.

Gavin Dench found an ‘exoskeleton’ just below the holes, and I brought it home.   Check where, near the bottom, you will see photos of similar holes, and a couple of exoskeletons, which match our example pretty well.   The only query is that there wasn’t much water about our site, but perhaps there was a lot of seepage, which might be enough for the dragonfly nymph.   Sam Buckley took a photo of the exoskeleton.   Did anyone take a photo of the holes?   Check NatureWatch where Leon Perrie placed photographs he took on the trip.

Jill Goodwin

David Galloway

A giant in NZ science has gone and just a week away from completion of the image selection for a popular book on NZ lichens that he has written, to go with the mammoth volumes he has produced on their systematics.

Brian Patrick, Senior Ecologist, Wildland Consultants Ltd, Phone 03 332 3868, Email: Brian.Patrick (at), Web:

Percy Scenic Reserve News

We have employed Desmond Miti, so we now have two full-time gardeners.   We also have the invaluable support of John Van Den Hoeven and Silvia Verwey.   Des has been with Downer for two and is keen to improve his horticultural knowledge; to this end he is starting his apprenticeship through H.I.T.O.

I am still learning my role, and have been struggling with two problems, mainly the Myosotis, which have suffered fungal attacks.   There always seems to be something attacking one part of the collection or another.

We have revamped the alpine rock garden, replanting the spaces where plants have died, also relabelling them.   We shall mulch this garden when a suitable gravel / chip has been chosen.

We held an open day on 12 October, with guided tours of the alpine collection, as part of Hutt City Discovery Day.   This was a new experience for me and an interesting and enjoyable one.   Though we did not have huge numbers, it was a worthwhile exercise and we learnt valuable lessons for future events.

Des and I have been planting out various areas of the reserve, filling in gaps in the planting, and bulking up other areas, notably 19 Rhopalostylis sapida / nikau planted in the southern lawn and entrance areas.

Cliff Keilty

Watts Peninsula

Progress at last on Watts Peninsula at the northern tip of the Miramar Peninsula!

I am a community representative on a planning advisory group looking at various aspects of this area, and how it might be developed as a national historic destination.   Importantly, this includes both the Defence land and the former prison site.   We have already held two workshops, and one on the ecological / recreational values is planned for early 2015.   We are charged with reporting to a Governance Group (comprising WCC, Port Nicholson Settlement Trust, Ministry of Culture and Heritage), who in May will submit recommendations to the Government on the future of the land.   There’s a lot of work to do, but I have been impressed with the progress and sense of goodwill exhibited to date.   We intend to consult with the wider community soon, so watch this space.

Colin Ryder, Watts Peninsula Coalition

Restoration of Baring Head

The ecological restoration mentioned in previous newsletters is well underway, with many signs of significant progress.   The gorse on the river escarpment has been sprayed, and many gorse, boxthorn and lupins on the coastal platform are looking sick.   The fencing off of the river, river escarpment, and the river flats in between, will be finished by Christmas.   We are arranging to acquire plants for several of the ecological hotspots, once stock have been excluded.

Horned poppy removal is being volunteers, including the energetic Bev Abbott.   Paula Warren has organised the first efforts to remove karo from the coastal escarpment.

The Friends are servicing predator traps across the whole block, including a new line of Timms traps west of the river.   These have snared two cats and several hedgehogs.   The Friends also service two DOC200 trap-lines on the adjoining property to the north, and seek funding for another trap-line along the Orongorongo Station boundary to the east.   Small mammal and lizard monitoring is continuing.

So it’s all go at Baring Head.   As always, we would welcome any help you can offer.   Contact me on 478 4391, or at rydercj (at), if you would like to assist.

Colin Ryder, Treasurer, Friends of Baring Head

BotSoccers Ian Armitage and Ann Evans receive awards

In “The Wellys”–Wellingtonian of the Year Awards, Greater Wellington Regional Council has recognised Ian’s and Ann’s important contributions to the regional environment, namely:
•   Ian, who is president of Rimutaka Forest Park Trust, leads ‘a team that is reintroducing kiwi into the park, supported by trapping stoats and rats.   There are now more than 100 kiwi in 3000 ha of forest.’
•   Ann who is a Whareroa Guardian, is ‘out in all weathers weeding, planting and inspiring others.’   Whareroa Farm Reserve, near Raumati South, has been planted with 45,000 plants in eight years.

Source:   The Dominion Post, 8 October 2014.

Warning:   Wasps in Nelson Lakes National Park

Wasps are very common in the Nelson Lakes area in summer; so wasp stings are a real possibility for anyone in the village, or walking in the bush.   Remember this if you are preparing for BotSoc’s field trip in January.   Always carry with you a supply of fresh antihistamine.   Note:   St Arnaud is over an hour from the nearest medical assistance in Blenheim.

Source:   DOC advice to job applicants

Protection of terrestrial vertebrates

I hope you find the blog on legal protection of New Zealand wildlife of interest:

Colin Miskelly, Curator, Terrestrial Vertebrates, Te Papa Tongarewa

Allan Mere presented to Dr Brian Molloy

Canterbury Botanical Society was honoured to host the presentation of the Allan Mere to Dr Brian Molloy by Dr Anthony Wright, president of NZBotSoc.

Canterbury BotSoc was one of many organisations that provided a letter of support to the nomination submitted by Drs Peter de Lange and Peter Heenan.   The citation was a long one, because Brian’s botanical work has covered a wide range of current disciplines, from biosystematics to conservation ecology, to threatened-plant classification.   Importantly Brian has been an effective communicator of conservation science to farmers and conservationists alike, and a mentor to younger colleagues.

The respect and reach of Brian’s botanical research and conservation advocacy was reflected in the number of people who attended, with a notably large contingent from Landcare Research, several colleagues of like age who had worked alongside Brian over his six decades with DSIR and later Landcare, The Riccarton Bush Trust, and his daughter Sue Molloy, who represented the Molloy family.

Brian accepted the Allan Mere graciously and when speaking to the Award he said he had always been proud to call himself a botanist.   Brian made it clear that he had not worked alone, and his achievements reflected his colleagues’ teamwork, and his family’s support.   He passed on a key message given to him by the late Dr Eric Godley: “above all do good botany”.

To the assembled group this award was also a moment for the botanical community to stand alongside Brian after a difficult few years for him and his beloved family.

Canterbury BotSoc presented Brian with a pot of Leptinella filiformis to take to his new home.

Source:   Canterbury BotSoc December newsletter – report by Alice Shanks

Editor:   Wellington BotSoc was among the organisations which sent a letter in support of the nomination.

Clive Paton receives Loder Cup

The Wellington-Hawke’s Bay Conservation Board nominated BotSoccer Clive for the Loder Cup.   Hon Maggie Barry, Minister of Conservation, presented the award at the Board’s November meeting.   There are two parts to the award; a giant cup, and an original art work.   The names of all the recipients are engraved on the cup, and it’s an impressive list of names.   Dr Bruce Clarkson, who chairs the Loder Cup Committee, explained that the committee commissions an appropriate art work for each recipient, so they have a permanent reminder of their award.   Clive’s painting features northern rata, recognising the many thousands that he and nearby land owners have planted in recent years.   The DOC web site has more details.

Gerald Loder donated the Loder Cup in 1926 to “encourage and honour New Zealanders who work to investigate, promote, retain and cherish our indigenous flora”.

Bev Abbott

Kiwiana in London

BotSoccer James Fraser reports from London:

The following lists NZ native plants we planted in Biddy Bunzl’s front and back gardens in Brockley, SE London.   Biddy bought the house and derelict garden in 1997.   So with a clear palette we started planting small NZ trees as structure and for privacy.   Lancewoods are a signature species of my business, Avant Gardener.   I’ll start with the trees and work down:

Trees and shrubs
•   Agathis australis
•   Chordospartium stevensonii
•   Coprosma propinqua, C. acerosa, C. kirkii
•   Cordyline australis
•   Hoheria populnea, H. angustifolia, H. sexstylosa, H. lyallii
•   Kunzea ericoides
•   Leptospermum scoparium
•   Muehlenbeckia astonii
•   Myrsine australis, M. aquilonia
•   Olearia paniculata, O. albida
•   Ozothamnus leptophyllus
•   Pennantia corymbosa
•   Pittosporum tenuifolium, P. tenuifolium ‘Tom thumb’, P. obcordatum, P. eugenioides, P. crassifolium
•   Plagianthus regius
•   Pseudopanax ferox, P. arboreus, P. laetus, P. chathamicus, P. lessonii ‘Sabre’, P. crassifolius
•   Schefflera digitata
•   Sophora tetraptera, S. microphylla ‘Little Baby’

•   Muehlenbeckia complexa

•   Cyathea dealbata

•   Anemanthele lessoniana
•   Chionochloa flavescens, C. rubra

•   Leptocarpus similis
•   Uncinia rubra

Monocotyledonous plants, other than grasses and sedges
•   Astelia nervosa, A. nervosa ‘West Coast Red’, A. chathamicus ‘Silver Spear’, A. banksii
•   Libertia ixioides, L. peregrinans
•   Phormium cookianum

Dicotyledonous herbaceous plants
•   Fuchsia procumbens

The lancewoods in the front attract the most attention as they are now mature and quite large!   The kauri is getting up there too...

James Fraser

Marram–a wise choice?

Spinifex planted at Riversdale Beach.   Photo, Jeremy Role.
In The Dominion Post on 6 October, in the 5-minute quiz on page A11, there was a question from Massey University:   What grass is planted to stabilise sand dunes?

The answer:   Marram grass.

Surely the use of marram is unwise, given the efforts by DOC, regional councils, territorial local authorities, and coastal care groups, to destroy it on many dune systems.   They replace it with the native sand-binders, pingao / golden sand sedge, or silvery sand grass / spinifex.   I see that it is still stated as being the main purpose of marram grass on some web sites:   e.g.

Richard Herbert

Botanical lyrics

Sedges have edges, rushes are round, grasses have joints, all the way down
Freddy Fungus and Alice Alga were living together in syn…biosis
and lichen it.
But now their marriage is on the rocks.

Warren Jowett, Canterbury Botanical Society Journal 45, 2014.

Field Guide to New Zealand’s Epiphytes, Vines & Mistletoes

Field Guide to New Zealand’s
Epiphytes, Vines & Mistletoes
by Catherine Kirby 2014

RRP $45

The first field guide to specifically prof le New Zealand’s native epiphytes, vines and mistletoes
•   261 pages, 103 species, over 300 superb photos.
•   Easy to use with clear botanical information and identification clues.

“This is the first time in New Zealand that a book has been devoted to this special group of mostly flowering plants and ferns.   Perhaps this is partly because they are so difficult to reach in the tree tops.

The photos are of a high standard and were mostly taken by the author.”

Dr John Dawson, Award-winning co-author of “New Zealand’s Native Trees” and “Nature Guide to the New Zealand Forest”

September 2014 News


Botanic Gardens of Wellington Draft Management Plan (April 2014)

Wellington City Council recently released its draft management plan for the four properties it manages as botanic gardens, i.e., Otari-Wilton’s Bush (Otari), the Wellington Botanic Garden (WBG), Truby King Park and Bolton St Memorial Park.   The draft plan’s 197 pages contain generic objectives and policies which apply to all four gardens, separate sections on each garden, and several appendices.   This means that anyone wanting to understand Council’s plans for a particular management function, e.g., education and interpretation at Otari, has to work through the general objectives and policies in Chapter 3, the specific policies and implementation plans in Chapter 5, and the background information in the appendices.

The Society’s submission focused on Otari.   We looked back to what had been achieved under the previous management plan (2007), what is new, and what had been dropped.   The achievements include the Landscape Development Plan which has resulted in changes to the paths and collections, and the integration of the Curator’s Cottage into Otari.   (The cottage will become the Leonard Cockayne Centre when it is opened on 20 September 2014).

There’s been no progress over the last seven years in developing a marketing and promotion strategy for Otari, but this may happen under the new vision which is for all gardens to be “Internationally recognised nature-based and cultural visitor attractions that show-case Wellington as an eco-city”.   We suggested that marketing Otari as “New Zealand’s Native Botanic Garden” would take advantage of the botanic gardens branding which is well-known internationally and in other parts of New Zealand.

New plans for education include testing new interactive trails, possibly using new technology, and showcasing the use of natives as plants for the home garden around the Leonard Cockayne Centre.   The big ticket item, however, for Council’s 2015 Long-Term Plan is an upgrade of Te Marae o Tane, as the main visitor centre.

One of the items dropped from the previous plan was the regenerating forests.   We suggested Council establish a Scientific Advisory Group to provide continuity of expertise.

We also gave them a list of more than twenty botanical references about Otari to add to the references appendix, including several papers from the Society’s Bulletin.

We suggested two additional policies for the collections at Otari to remain true to the principles developed by Cockayne in establishing the collections.   We believe these can be achieved without detracting from the aesthetics of the plantings.   On-site access to new technologies may be part of the answer.

The collections will be developed so that they are representative of as much of the diversity of NZ’s flora as it is possible to cultivate at Otari.

The collections will cater for students, the public and visitors who want to know more about NZ’s plant families and genera, and their evolution.

We were one of thirteen submitters who spoke to councillors at the oral hearings.   Chris Horne and Barbara Metcalfe gave an excellent presentation, drawing on their experience and knowledge of the native remnants in the WBG.   Issues raised by other submitters about the WBG included calls for more commuter cycling routes and an off -leash dog area.

Bev Abbott

Wellington Botanical Society 2014 / 15 committee

At the 75th Annual General Meeting, held on 18 August 2014, the following were elected:

President Position vacant
Vice-Presidents Richard Herbert 232 6828
                Sunita Singh 387 9955
Secretary Barbara Clark 233 8202
Treasurer Lea Robertson 473 8211
Auditor Rita Chin 802 5278
Committee Eleanor Burton 479 0497
                Frances Forsyth 384 8891
                Chris Horne 475 7025
                Lara Shepherd 384 7147
                Owen Spearpoint 562 8780
Submissions co-ordinator Bev Abbott 475 8468
Bulletin Editor Leon Perrie 381 7261 (w)

President’s Report to the 75th Annual General Meeting of the Wellington Botanical Society


•   A fabulous summer trip to Lake Waikaremoana (Te Urewera National Park), based at Camp Kaitawa, with support from DOC’s Aniwaniwa Base Office; then to Whirinaki Forest Park, based at Whirinaki Recreation Camp, Minginui.
•   The 2013 A P Druce Memorial Lecture given by Shannel Courtney, DOC, Nelson, Technical Support Officer–Threatened Plants.   The title of his talk was “The mountains of Nelson & Marlborough–a treasure trove of alpine plants”.

Special thanks

As I conclude my second year as president, I reflect on the great variety of inspirational speakers we have had at our evening meetings over the past year, and give thanks to those who have helped to organise and present them.

Although I have not been able to attend fields trips as often as I would have liked, I am grateful to all members who have participated in, and helped to organise and lead this important aspect of our activities in improving awareness of the natural environment around us.


We have almost maintained our existing membership over the year.   It now comprises 121 Ordinary Members, 41 Country Members, 61 Group Members, 38 Life Members, and 3 Student Members.   Thus the total membership is 264, down from 275 last year.

During the year fifteen new members joined.   There were four resignations, one death and ten non-paying members were struck off during the year to June 2014.


The main field trip of the year was our summer-camp excursion to Te Urewera National Park.   We stayed at Camp Kaitawa, near the eastern side of Lake Waikaremoana, and adjacent to the Kaitawa Hydro-Power Station.   A highlight was a talk by local Ngai Tuhoe iwi member, Jenni Moses, on the subject of Rongoa Maori (traditional use of native plants by Maori), and also some insight into the Ngai Tuhoe treaty settlement.   Some members spent two days visiting areas of the magnificent Whirinaki Forest Park, based at Whirinaki Recreation Camp, Minginui.   A full report is in the May 2014 newsletter.

Around the Greater Wellington area we made eleven field trips.   As with all our field trips, species lists were prepared of the native and exotic vegetation seen.   These lists, an invaluable resource in tracking the health of local ecosystems, are lodged with the private owner, or land managing agency, and the NZ Plant Conservation Network.

Two workbees were held at Te Marua Bush.   The Society works in partnership with 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 17.5 members attended each of the field trips and workbees.   This continues the upward trend, and is up from last year’s average of seventeen.


Ten meetings were held during the year, with an average attendance of 38.6 people, slightly up on last year.   The best-attended meeting was that in August when Shannel Courtney spoke about the botany of the mountains of Nelson and Marlborough.

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

•   Newsletter:   Three newsletters were produced during the year; one each in September 2013, December 2013, and May 2014.   Thanks to Chris Horne for the many tasks he is involved in with preparation of the newsletters, and to Jeremy Rolfe for formatting them and finalising their production.   These publications provide a fantastic wealth of information for members, and a record of the society’s activities.
•   The web site at continues to be the public face of the Society, and a number of enquiries come through this avenue.   It is managed by the president.
•   Bulletin No. 55 is under preparation and expected to be published later in 2014.
•   Community outreach
  -   The Society provided judges for last year’s NIWA Science and Technology Fair.
  -   Our newsletters were distributed not only to members, but also to related organisations, libraries, and Citizens’ Advice Bureaux.
  -   Our field trips, which are open to the public, are advertised in the Wellington Glean Report.
  -   We participated with our BotSoc display panel at the annual Otari-Wilton’s Bush Open Day.


The Society continued to lodge submissions on draft plans and strategies with implications for NZ’s indigenous plants and ecosystems.   The major submissions this year included the draft National Policy Statement on Freshwater, the draft Management Plan for the Wellington Botanic Gardens (includes Otari-Wilton’s Bush), and Greater Wellington’s Key Native Ecosystem Plan for Baring Head-Orua-pouanui.

Bev Abbott was again co-opted onto the committee as Submissions Coordinator, and put a lot of time into researching and drafting submissions for which the committee is very grateful.   This is an important role for the Society, and is the effective public face of the Wellington Botanical Society into the local and central government organisations that we submit to.


Several awards were made by the Society during the year as follows:
•   Jubilee Award for 2013 was presented to Valerie (Val) Smith ($1,300) for assistance towards publishing a booklet with the results of her biographical sketches about people commemorated in New Zealand plant names, and also to Hugh Wilson ($1,300) for assistance with publishing his book Plant Life on Banks Peninsula.
•   Arnold and Ruth Dench New Zealand Botanical Award – No award was made in 2013.
•   VUW School of Biological Sciences – Student Field Grants:
  -   Thomas Bell, $115, investigating colour differences in Disphyma.
  -   Maren Preuss, $500, investigating the taxonomy of the red algae parasites on Polysiphonia atterima, Rhodophyllis membranacea and Pterocladia lucida in New Zealand.
  -   Amanda Taylor, $689, who is studying epiphytes.
  -   Charlie Clark, $1200, who is investigating Senecio glastifolius.
•   Tom Moss Student Award in Bryology – There were no applicants in 2013.
•   2013 NIWA Science Fair Prize – Max Culver, a year 7 pupil at Wellington South Intermediate School.   His project, “Rongoa Maori–The anti-fungal properties of horopito”, compared fungicide prepared from horopito with the effectiveness of the standard lime-sulphur spray.

The committee

The committee met bi-monthly during the past year, and as well as the committee business, enjoyed the fellowship of members’ homes.   Special thanks go to Barbara Clark, our secretary, and Frances Forsyth, for keeping us all up to date with the minutes and correspondence.   Thanks also to incoming Treasurer, Lea Robertson, for keeping our finances in order, and to Rodney Lewington for continuing support service to the committee.

Sunita Singh has continued a great job in organising our guest-speaker and field-trip programmes.   I have very much enjoyed the great variety of very interesting speakers we have had over the past year–I hope you have too?

Other acknowledgements

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, and others who are involved in preparation and distribution of the newsletter 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 year’s highlight for the committee meetings.
•   Mick Parsons and Sheelagh Leary for a superbly run summer trip to Lake Waikaremoana, and to Sunita for the initial selection and booking arrangements for the summer camp sites.
•   All those members who helped raise funds for the Society’s Jubilee Fund by donating plants for sale, or from the sale of cards, or books for auction.
•   All our guest speakers and the members who made Plant of the Month presentations.

Thank you

Richard Herbert, President

Field trips

Date Location Attendance
07.09.13 Wright Hill Reserve:   Deliverance and Salvation tracks 18
05.10.13 Ngauranga-Horokiwi coastal escarpment 26
02.11.13 “Muri Bush”, Pukerua Bay 26
16.11.13 Te Marua Bush workbee 10
30.11.14 – 01.12.14 Wairarapa:   Pukaha / Mount Bruce; garden with translocated mistletoes; Fensham Reserve 14
17 – 28.01.14 Summer Camp - Te Urewera National Park and.   Whirinaki Forest Park 35
15.02.14 Muritai Track, East Harbour Regional Park 16
08.03.14 Fitzroy Bay / Baring Head 10 05.04.14 Wi Tako Scenic Reserve, Upper Hutt 17
18 – 21.04.14 Wairarapa Cancelled
03.05.14 Puriri and Broad Gully tracks, East Harbour Regional Park 13
07.06.14 Korokoro Valley, upper true left, Belmont Regional Park 11
21.06.14 Te Marua Bush workbee 14
05.07.14 Haywards Scenic Reserve, Lower Hutt 18
02.08.14 Porirua Scenic Reserve 17

Evening meetings

Date Subject Attendance
19.08.13 AGM.   The mountains of Nelson & Marlborough - a treasure trove of alpine plants 62
16.09.13 Adapting to aquatic life 39
21.10.13 Grasses in NZ 29
18.11.13 VUW students’ presentations 31
17.02.14 What the new DOC means for conservation 54
17.03.14 Nature Watch NZ 33
14.04.14 Can I eat that leaf – an insect’s approach to taxonomy 48
19.05.14 Members’ evening; book auction 22
16.06.14 Plant-mycorrhizal interactions as foundational components of ecosystem structure and function 30
21.07.14 Eco-sourcing of plants:   what, why, where and how 38

Plant of the month

The following presentations were made before the main speaker at the following meetings:

Date Presenter Topic
23.10.13 Barbara Mitcalfe Brachyglottis greyi and B. repanda
17.02.14 Dr Lara Shepherd Arthropodium candidum, A. cirratum, A. bifurctum
17.03.14 Dr Carol West Elingamita johnsonii
14.04.14 Chris Horne Earina autumnalis
16.06.14 Rodney Lewington Azolla rubra

Treasurer Report

The Wellington Botanical Society has maintained grants at the same level as previous years, and proposes to keep subscriptions at the current level for the time being.

Recipients of both the Student Field grants and the Jubilee Award have extended their appreciation for the support we were able to give them in researching indigenous flora.   Awards were not made for either the Tom Moss Student Award in Bryology, or the Arnold and Ruth Dench NZ Award.

Donations to the Jubilee Award Fund were gratefully received, the total $1910 up from $1542 previously.   Subscription and investment income also rose to $5719 and $3275 respectively up from $4934 and $1955.   Our membership currently stands at 251 persons.

Expenditure was down in a few areas this financial year, and we owe special thanks to those speakers and volunteers, who gave generously of their time and energy for the benefit of Society aims.   Printing and stationery costs were up, but largely because payment for the June 2013 newsletter fell due this financial year.

Publication of Bulletin 55 has been delayed until later this year, but provision has been made for its printing and distribution.   Additional funds have been conservatively invested until required, which are slightly above those the Society customarily puts aside to maintain the value of capital against inflation.

My particular thanks to Rodney Lewington, and to Chris Horne, for assistance rendered during the course of the year.

Lea Robertson, Hon Treasurer

Restoration of Baring Head

I reported in the May Newsletter on ecological restoration work underway at Baring Head, and a ten-year Biodiversity Action Plan which had been agreed between the Friends of Baring Head and Greater Wellington Regional Council.   Since then, we have been lucky enough to be granted $92,000 from the Community Conservation Partnership Fund, administered by DOC.   This will enable us to complete the first three years of the plan, and get those large and expensive up-front projects out of the way.

Work over the initial period will include:
•   Fencing; to ensure that stock cannot continue to degrade the existing native vegetation and compromise future plantings.   This work has started and will be completed next year.
•   Extending pest-animal control across the block to include cats, possums and rodents, beginning in 2015 / 16.   Volunteers are servicing 101 predator traps, and several neighbours have agreed to allow us to trap on their properties, as well.   We are seeking funding for the latter project.
•   Protecting and restoring two lizard and invertebrate habitat hotspots on the river escarpment.
•   Restoring three oxbows on the river plain, and five sites on the Wainuiomata River.
•   Intensive management of two banded dotterel sites on the coastal platform.   This will complement large-scale efforts already underway to control weeds such as horned poppy, lupins and boxthorn.

On top of all this, the Friends are also assisting the Council with several other restoration projects, including small mammal monitoring, beach clean-ups and enrichment planting.   Furthermore, we have now been given permission to remove karo from the coastal escarpment below the lighthouse.

So, there will be plenty of work opportunities for everybody.   If you would like to help, then contact me at (04) 478 4391 or on rydercj (at)

Colin Ryder, Treasurer, Friends of Baring Head

Watts Peninsula

After almost three years of no discernible progress, the restoration of Watts Peninsula and its environs took a major step forward on 2 September when a Memorandum of Understanding setting out some high-level guiding principles for the protection, preservation and development “with sensitivity” of the area was signed by the Government, Wellington City Council (WCC) and the Port Nicolson Block Settlement Trust.

Work has begun on drafting of a project charter which will outline the vision, objectives and goals of a Watts Peninsula Plan for the development of a “national historic destination” protecting and enhancing the environmental, cultural and heritage values of the northern end of Miramar Peninsula.   Importantly, the former prison site and WCC land on the seaward side of the road at Shelly Bay will be covered by the plan.

While it’s early days yet and there’s still much work to be done, there seems to be a determination to make this exercise succeed.   The Watts Peninsula Coalition, representing the community at this stage, has been talking informally with the major stakeholders since 2011 and it’s great to see some of our ideas about governance and the scope of the plan being taken seriously.   The Coalition anticipates that it will be heavily involved in planning and resourcing work on the site.

Colin Ryder, Convenor, Watts Peninsula Coalition

Percy Scenic Reserve news

A tumultuous time of staff changes has been a challenge at Lower Hutt’s Percy Scenic Reserve this year.   Eliza Whalley left the Wellington area for other opportunities.   Silvia Verwey baby-sat Percy’s while the position was being filled.   We now have Cliff Keilty in the role.   He is British-born and new to NZ alpine plants and native threatened plants, but brings with him many years of horticultural experience.   We much appreciate Liza’s exceptional record-keeping, and her time spent overhauling and updating the office records and data, which allows for a much easier transition for anyone entering the role.

Highlights this year include a visit by the Australasian Plant Propagators’ Society conference in April.   The Brachyglottis pentacopa growing in the reserve near the Weta Cave was of particular interest to several folk–it has lovely fresh green leaves and a wonderful smell.   Downer NZ native plant expert, John van den Hoeven, says that the NZPCN website states that this species, found growing on Mount Percy in the Wairarapa, may be a hybrid or variety of B. perdicioides.

John has spent valuable time assessing plants left from days gone by, and awaiting proper identification.   He identified a rare native orchid, Myrmechila trapeziformis and found an Olearia adenocarpa and an Australopyrum calcis subsp. calcis (both listed Nationally Critical), amongst other goodies.   John’s contribution has been invaluable.

We had a Master’s student visit as he is doing a thesis on mycorrhizal associations of native orchids.   It makes you realise how much there is to learn about the complexity of the environment.

Challenges we faced this year (other than staff changes):   the plant houses are due for a tart-up.   They are not ideal for housing the alpine plants.   One house leaks badly when it rains, so we move the plants to avoid drips, but when it pours as it has often over winter, some plants inevitably get more moisture than they would like.   The heat in summer was also quite stressful for some plants.   We have such a diversity of plants from various habitats that it is tricky to satisfy all their needs all the time.   Strong southerly salt laden winds affect some plants such as the ferns.

Cliff has been in the job for two months and is enjoying the lovely surroundings.   Now spring is on the way it will be especially nice.   We hope to see some of you BotSoc folk here soon to meet Cliff.

Silvia Verwey, John van den Hoeven, Cliff Keilty

Otari-Wilton’s Bush report

Kia ora koutou.   Work on the new Leonard Cockayne Centre is progressing despite some poor weather.   We will plant around the house to have it looking top-notch for the official opening on Otari Open Day, Saturday 20 September.   The plantings will be a mixture of cultivars and species suitable for Wellington home gardens.   This helps meet one of Dr Cockayne’s original schemes for the gardens – ‘the use of indigenous plants for horticultural purposes shall be illustrated in various ways for the information of those desirous of using such plants in their gardens’.

We have just finished hosting a student placement from Victoria University.   Kate McKenzie-Pollack investigated some family based activities for families visiting Otari.   Among her ideas was a neat booklet designed for kids to complete here–more to follow.

Finn Michalak, one of our curators, had a successful trip to Hawai’i in June and met folks from the National Tropical Botanic Garden who visited us in January.   He particularly enjoyed visiting the Limahuli gardens, which share parallels with Otari, and seeing Argyroxiphium sandwicense on top of a volcano.   A very neat landscape and plant species, well worth a Google.

We’ve visited sites around the lower North Island to collect plants for DOC.   We intend to grow these in our nursery, and hope to return some to the wild.   Staff visited Whanganui and Mangaweka to collect Pimelea actea and Celmisia ‘Mangaweka’ respectively.

Closer to home, we have finally planted out Brachyglottis kirkii var. kirkii adjacent to the forest.   The plants have been grown from cuttings sourced from various sites in the Wellington region with GWRC and DOC.   We intend that they will begin to return to the forest as a self-sustaining population.   We’ve previously had little success planting them out, so in an effort to recreate an epiphytic situation, we have planted them in pots made from hollowed-out mamaku trunks (sourced from dead mamaku at the Botanic Garden).

Finally, many thanks to BotSoc for an excellent submission on the Botanic Gardens of Wellington draft management plan.   The written and verbal submissions were well received by councillors, and have helped shape the plan to good effect.   While ostensibly similar to the previous plan, there is an increased emphasis on partnerships to achieve our objectives, a more focused look at our education and conservation roles, and how we will manage the forest using wider Council resources.

Rewi Elliot, Curator / Manager, Otari Native Botanic Garden and Wilton’s Bush Reserve.   E-mail:   rewi.elliot (at)

Facebook:   Wild Plants of Wellington

I’ve set up a Facebook group called “Wild Plants of Wellington”.

The “About” description says:

“For anyone interested in native or introduced plants occurring wild in the wider Wellington region.   Notification of relevant news and events is welcome.

Our interests are similar to the Wellington Botanical Society (, which isn’t yet on Facebook.”

If you’re on Facebook, and would like to take a look, search for “Wild Plants of Wellington” in the search box at the top left of your Facebook page.   If it looks of interest, click the “Join Group” button (near the lower right corner of the panoramic picture at the top of the screen).

Posts so far include:
•   Photos from the field trip to Porirua Scenic Reserve.
•   A comment from Phil Garnock-Jones about this season’s flowering of rangiora.
•   A link to a blog post I did about Maori plant names for Maori Language Week.

It is a “Public” group, so any member can post news and questions.   Julia White and I are the administrators for the group.   All requests to join the group have to be approved by Julia or me.

Leon Perrie

WCC’s Parks, Sport & Recreation restructured

As a result of the recent Wellington City Council (WCC) restructuring of Parks, Sport & Recreation (PSR), there are some new teams and positions to enable PSR to deliver the desired environmental and community outcomes more effectively.

PSR now has an Urban Ecology team:   Myfanwy Emeny / Team Leader, Illona Keenan / Biosecurity Technical Advisor, and Anita Benbrook / Restoration Technical Advisor.   The Urban Ecology team is responsible for coordinating and managing WCC’s biodiversity and biosecurity activities.   They contribute to the management of the city’s open spaces and reserves through ecological advice, and the protection and restoration of indigenous biodiversity.   The Urban Ecology team is within the Open Spaces and Parks (OSAP) team, which is managed by Amber Bill.   Also in the OSAP team are the Park Rangers, Botanic Gardens of Wellington, Berhampore Nursery and the Cemeteries.

There is also new Customer and Community Partnerships team (CCP) in PSR to encourage more people to take part in recreation and make greater use of the city’s open space and indoor facilities.   Tim Park is the new Environment Partnership Leader, joining the team from Greater Wellington Regional Council where he was Senior Biodiversity Coordinator.   Tim will identify environmental recreation needs and boost participation in environmental restoration recreation.   Other key positions in this team are Elspeth McMillan / Education Partnership Leader, Fran McEwen / Health and Wellbeing Partnership Leader, and Glenn McGovern / Sports and Clubs Partnership Leader.   The CCP team is managed by Karyn Stillwell.

Myfanwy Emeny

Biodiversity Action Plan

The 2007 Wellington City Council Biodiversity Action Plan is being reviewed.   This document guides our biodiversity activities, identifies local priorities and actions to protect and restore biodiversity, and engage the general community.   A draft will be out for public consultation towards the end of October (now late January 2015).

Myfanwy Emeny, Team Leader, Urban Ecology, Parks, Sport & Recreation, Wellington City Council

Interesting trees at the Aro Street bus terminus

Although there are no heritage or notable trees in Aro Valley, there is a cluster of interesting trees at the top of Aro St.

At the entrance to Polhill Reserve, on the freshly planted slope above the community garden and orchard, are two trees, a native kawaka / Libocedrus plumosa and a dawn redwood / Metasequoia glyptostroboides.   On the opposite side of the road, by 206 Aro St, is a cluster of four more dawn redwoods.   These may have been grown for, and surplus to, the Sesquicentennial celebration.   A little further on, in cages on the grassy slope at the start of Raroa Rd are eleven ash trees / Fraxinus excelsior.

All these trees, native and exotic, were planted by Wellington City Council since the 1980s, chosen for reasons now obscured by time.   They have thrived and become well established.

The only native tree amongst the three species, kawaka / Libocedrus plumosa, occurs naturally in lowland forests in the northern North Island and south to the Bay of Plenty.   It reappears in the northwest corner of the South Island.

This lonely kawaka, on the slope above community garden and orchard at the top of Aro St, is the last survivor of several kawaka planted along the edge of the entrance to Polhill Gully.   The others didn’t thrive and were replaced by a row of puriri (a species not naturally occurring in Wellington), and kowhai.   This one survivor does produce seed, but being so far from its usual habitat is unlikely to produce seedlings that will survive in Polhill Reserve.   At the recent planting day, on 7 June 2014, volunteers planted low-growing species, e.g., flaxes and divaricating shrubs, on the slope around it and the other large tree there, a dawn redwood.

cones of kawaka
The distinctive cones of kawaka.
The kawaka, a narrow, upright conifer, grows slowly to 12 m, with a spread of c. 2.5 m.   It has tiny, bright green, scale-like leaves on flattened fern-like branches.   Looking closely you will see that the scales form two rows of larger leaves alternate with two rows of smaller leaves.   Older trees will have stringy bark and timber which is a beautiful deep red.   An excellent lawn specimen, it also does well in containers.   Libocedrus from the Greek, means fragrant cedar, although these trees are really more closely related to cypresses; plumosa, from the Latin, means feathery.   There are three species in New Caledonia and two in NZ, the odd, but not uncommon, connection of the flora of these two, now distant land masses.

Its wind pollinated seeds are formed in cones, whose four, thin, dry and woody scales, each with a distinctively sharp spine, are closely grouped on a central stem.   The winged seeds form on the scales and eventually sift out between them.   As well as these seed cones, kawaka also has smaller yellow pollen cones, on the same trees.   You can see more kawaka in the Botanic Garden and Otari-Wilton’s Bush.

Nowadays it is usual to see appropriate native trees planted in the valley and catchment, not exotics, but it is interesting to keep a record of what has happened in Aro Street historically.

Julia Stace

DOC’s Wellington-Hawke’s Bay Region protects land

The Kaitoke Hill Conservation Covenant comprises a small remnant of native bush (c. 0.6422 ha) at 1242 Rimutaka Hill Road / SH2, opposite Mangaroa Scenic Reserve.

The covenant, adjacent to SH2, is within certificate of title WN572996, which resulted from the NZ Transport Agency’s disposal of surplus land following switchback realignment for the 70 km/h State Highway improvement project.   The Reserves Act covenant comprises hard beech forest with regeneration including black beech, manukakamahi, with occasional large northern rata and some totara.   Once the property transfers from the Crown into private ownership, future access is by arrangement with the new owner.   DOC may provide technical advice to aid the restoration of indigenous plant and animal species in the covenant.

David Bishop, Senior Advisor (SLM), National Office, DOC

National Trust covenants

Landowners have established QEII National Trust Open Space Covenants to protect more than 4000 special sites, covering about 125,000 ha of valuable environments and threatened species’ habitats on their land.   That is an area equivalent in size to the combined areas of Aoraki / Mt Cook, Abel Tasman and Mt Egmont national parks.

You can support the trust’s work by becoming a member of the trust.   Subscriptions:   individual–$30, family–$45, life–$500.   QEII National Trust, Box 3341, WN 6140.   04 472 6626, 0800 4 OPENSPACE (0800 467 367).   Membership entitles you to the magazine Open Space, published twice a year, and a copy of the trust’s annual report to Parliament.


NIWA Wellington Science and Technology Fair 2014–Botanical Society Prize

Sophie Russell, a year-8 pupil at Northland School, won this year’s Wellington Botanical Society prize for the best exhibit of a project involving NZ native plants.

Sophie’s project compared the heat retention and rainwater runoff of three roofing types.   She was able to show that a “Green Roof” planted with Scleranthus, Aceana, and small Festuca, minimised rainwater run-off, and kept a building cooler than one roofed with corrugated iron, and one roofed with tiles.   Her experiment showed that there was minimal difference in heat retention between these forms of roofing.

There were several other exhibits considered, all well-researched and well-presented.   Sophie’s project ticked all the boxes with her initial research, hypothesis, experimental method, and she provided a clear explanation and discussion.

Rodney Lewington

Rare plant discovery in the Wairarapa

Olearia gardneri
Olearia gardneri.
Olearia gardneri / tree daisy is one of NZ’s rarest plants.   Until the chance discovery of an isolated thicket by the QEII National Trust’s Wairarapa regional representative, Trevor Thompson, the total number of known plants in the wild was under 150, a population comparable to the critically endangered kakapo.

The National Trust approved a covenant proposal this year that will protect 240 Olearia gardneri trees.   With this population secure, the national threat status of the species will lift from Threatened / Nationally Critical, to Threatened / Nationally Endangered.   With management these plants will be able to support the re-establishment of viable populations at other Wairarapa sites.

Anne McLean, Communications Advisor, QEII National Trust

A. P. (Tony) Druce’s Trip Book

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 the Wellington BotSoc committee had it photocopied, and called it A. P. (Tony) Druce’s Trip Book.   This made it more accessible.   It has since been reprinted.   A bibliography was added, and an obituary for Tony, with permission from the NZBotSoc committee, as it was written by the then Editor, Carol West, for NZBS Newsletter No. 56 June 1999.

We have copies available.   $15 each, plus $3 p&p.   Send your order to WBS, Box 10 412, WN 6143, bj_clark (at) , or collect yours, post-free, by asking Barbara Clark, phone 233 8202, to bring you a copy to a BotSoc meeting.

Road reserve above Karori Tunnel eastern portal

By special arrangement with WCC, we began planting appropriate indigenous species on this steep site in 2002, and as volunteers, we have since then kept the worst weeds at bay.   However, for most of 2013 the site was closed to the public during extensive tunnel strengthening, and it has rapidly become overgrown again.   The ground cover is almost all tradescantia, and woody weeds such as tree lucerne and karo, are up to several metres tall.   Fortunately permission was given to us to remove a Hoheria populnea, a non-Wellington lacebark with its dozens of seedlings, but we still await WCC’s attention to the karo and tree lucerne.   Meanwhile, flax, several kowhai and a large old cabbage tree are much favoured by birds visiting from Zealandia.

Barbara Mitcalfe

Smart-phone app for plant ID

Flora Finder App for Plant Identification

The Botany Department, University of Otago, has collaborated with MEA Mobile to make a smart-phone app that uses the camera function to help identify native plants.


Queen Elizabeth Park extension

Grow Paekakariki have succeeded in getting DOC to use credits from land taken from it for the Transmission Gully Motorway to extend the north end of the Tilley Triangle, north of Wainui Steam.   This will provide complete protection for the significant sand-dune complex, more land for grazing, and more walking / cycling track opportunities.   Grow Paekakariki is supported by the Community Board which asked Kapiti Coast District Council to support DOC, Greater Wellington Regional Council and the NZ Transport Agency to complete this development.

Paul Hughes, for Grow Paekakariki,, or just Google “GROW PAEKAKARIKI”

A new online interactive key:   Cotoneaster species in NZ

Cotoneaster is an ornamental shrub genus common in NZ gardens.   None of the species are native to NZ; most have their wild origin in the Chinese Himalaya.   Most species in the key are known from the wild, several species are troublesome weeds, and one is banned from sale (Cotoneaster simonsii).   Cotoneasters are frost-hardy, some will grow under native forest canopies, and their fruit is spread by birds.   These features make them invasive weeds in native forest and scrub, and in non-native agricultural ecosystems.

Cotoneaster key
The number of naturalised and casual species in NZ has increased from 7 to 17 since Flora Volume 4 (Bill Sykes, 1988).   Because of the importance of this invasive weed genus, Cotoneaster is being revised by David Glenny for an online interactive Lucid key, and an online eFlora treatment.   A first draft of the online key is now available at   The key includes cultivated species, as will the eFlora treatment, because some of these are likely to naturalise in the future.   Some names used in the key will be unfamiliar to users of Flora of NZ Vol. 4, because there have been important publications on the genus since 1988.   The main two are Jeanette Fryer and Bertil Hylmo’s book Cotoneasters (Timber Press, 2009), and the 2003 Flora of China treatment of Cotoneaster by Lu and Brach (available online at

Source:   The Plant Press, Allan Herbarium, August 2014.

Cuckoo migration

A fellow student at Massey University is running a research project investigating cuckoo migration patterns.   He is seeking records of the first time shining cuckoos or long-tailed cuckoos are seen or heard this spring, so he can track their progress through the country.

Jamie MacKay

Japanese knotweed

Fallopia japonica is listed by the World Conservation Union as one of the world’s worst invasive species.   The invasive root system and strong growth can damage concrete foundations, buildings, flood defences, roads, paving, retaining walls and architectural sites.   It can also reduce the capacity of channels in flood defences to carry water.

Fallopia japonica
Fallopia japonica.   Photo, Jeremy Rolfe.
It is a frequent coloniser of temperate riparian ecosystems, roadsides and waste places.   It forms thick, dense colonies that completely crowd out any other herbaceous species, and is now considered one of the worst invasive exotics in parts of the eastern United States.   The success of the species is partially attributed to its tolerance of a wide range of soil types, pH and salinity.   Its rhizomes can survive temperatures of -35°C and can extend 7 m horizontally and 3 m deep, making removal by excavation extremely difficult.

Japanese knotweed is on the surveillance list under the Wellington Regional Pest Management Strategy, which is due for review.   We may decide to be proactive, rather than wait for the draft of the next RPMS.   I’ll see if GW has a summary of known occurrences, and how it deals with them.

We could also contact MPI alerting them to this new information.   Their Japanese knotweed web site was last updated in January 2010, and the only impact its describes is:   ”Once established, Asiatic knotweed forms dense stands that shade and crowd out all other vegetation, displacing native flora and fauna.“   The site tells readers to contact regional councils.

We will ask DOC what is known about locations of Japanese knotweed on public conservation land, and how DOC deals with it.

Bev Abbott

David Holey (1938–2014)

We are sad to report that Dave died on 11 September.   His main botanical activities were compiling lists of northern rata and southern rata in Lower Hutt’s suburbs, and for several years leading BotSoc trips, in mid-December, around the suburbs, to see his favourite trees and their often wonderful floral displays.


Waikato River and district restoration planting guides

Focus on patterns, processes and communities.

For the past decade I have been part-time coordinator for Ecosourced Waikato.   The group is made up of representatives of DOC, Waikato Regional Council, University of Waikato, Hamilton City Council, restoration practitioners and the nursery industry.   When the group was established, availability of the right plants for restoration was a major impediment to restoration, and it was soon recognised that understanding of natural plant communities was also a limiting factor.

I have found that the best way to design a planting project is to get to know well, natural areas on a similar landform and watch them to see how they change over time.   With the increased enthusiasm for restoration planting in the Waikato, comprehensive and area-specific guides to planting a native plant community seemed like the most useful contribution the group could make to this work.   Work continues, the first guides are available on the DOC web site, and others will soon follow.   The guides identify a range of native species found in, and tolerant of, particular conditions, and provide guidance on the reconstruction of a community of plants which have a comprehensive range of strategies, reminiscent of natural areas and resilient to natural and man-made threats.

Wayne Bennett, Forest Flora

May 2014 News


Aotea Conservation Park

We supported DOC’s proposal to create a conservation park on Aotea / Great Barrier Island.   This will give greater statutory protection to several blocks of stewardship land.   Preparing the submission brought back memories of our field trip to the island in 2007 / 08 when forty-three members enjoyed exploring the island’s plants, ecosystems and landscapes.   We recommended that a botanical specialist be appointed to the advisory committee, because the island has at least seventy-five species of regionally and nationally threatened vascular plants.

Baring Head / Orua-pouanui Key Native Ecosystem Plan

We submitted on Greater Wellington Regional Council‘s (GWRC) revised draft plan for the Baring Head / Orua-pouanui Key Native Ecosystem (KNE).   This plan is one of about eighty plans that GWRC is preparing for the KNEs in the region.   Many of our suggestions on an earlier draft had been adopted (see September newsletter–page 6).   We’ve not yet seen the final version of the approved plan, but have received a thank-you letter, and an outline of GWRC’s response to each of our recommendations.   From this we learned that:
•   The KNE plans are for internal work-flow planning and financial accountability purposes, and are approved by managers, (i.e., no opportunity for oral submissions to councillors)
•   GWRC cannot fund all of our suggestions, e.g., mapping the ecosystems in each of the four management areas, and developing a better understanding of the wetland’s hydrology
•   GWRC’s Environmental Science department is developing a regional biodiversity monitoring programme.

The news about the regional biodiversity monitoring programme is particularly welcome.

Central Government’s Freshwater Reforms

There was extensive coverage in the media about Government’s proposed amendments to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM), and the first elements of the National Objective Framework (NOF).   Most of that coverage focused on issues associated with the allocation and use of water from rivers and lakes for agriculture, hydroelectricity and discharges to waterways.

Our submission expressed concern about the lack of progress in the NOF on other important water management issues, particularly wetlands.   We drew attention to the need for ‘attributes’ to address changes in hydrology, the structure of wetland communities, the loss of indigenous biodiversity, and weed invasion.   We also noted the role of wetlands in mitigating the impacts of droughts and floods.

Review of Conservation Boards

Late in 2013, the Minister of Conservation, the Hon.   Nick Smith, initiated a review of conservation boards.   Our submission included the challenges faced by the Wellington-Hawke’s Bay Conservation Board in maintaining contact with communities throughout such a large area.   The responsibilities of the original Wellington Board covered the Wairarapa and Wellington up to the Manawatu River.   Over the last ten years, the board’s area has expanded to include most of the Manawatu, Hawke’s Bay and the Mahia Peninsula.

New boards were announced in late April 2014, and are expected to be more representative of the communities they serve, and have a greater focus on recreation.

Wellington City Council Draft Annual Plan

As we’d heard that GWRC would be reducing its contribution to pest control work in Wellington City, we urged Council to investigate the implications for pest control programmes in different parts of the city.   A particular concern was that reduced funding for possum control in the buffer zone would see increased infiltration of possums into the Wellington isthmus from the north.

We also encouraged Council to develop a seven-year plan to support its target of planting Two Million Trees by 2020.

Bev Abbott, Submissions Coordinator

Restoration of Baring Head

The community’s involvement in the ecological restoration of Baring Head has just taken a major step forward with Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) and the Friends of Baring Head agreeing to a ten-year project.   This will build on the work already started; some of which has been supported by BotSoccers, and GWRC’s “business as usual” work commitments.

The project is multi-faceted, which is intended to protect the property’s existing biodiversity values, restore native flora and fauna communities, and protect and enhance the biodiversity values of the lower Wainuiomata River.

Many of the project’s activities of interest to BotSoccers are predicated on fencing to protect native vegetation and new plantings in ecologically sensitive areas, and the aquatic values of the river.   Importantly, this will include fencing off the entire river within the area, which will begin soon.

Volunteers arranged by the Friends have started servicing DOC 200 traps across the whole block.   In 2015, these will be complemented by Timms traps and bait stations for cats, rodents and possums.

Once these foundation activities have been sufficiently progressed, then we will be able to undertake work to:

1.   restore lizard habitat and communities

This involves restoring lizard communities, initially at seven locations on the inland scarp, through the removal of stock grazing, planting species preferred by lizards, intensive pest-animal control, and weed control to repair the habitat for the four recorded lizard species, included spotted skink.   This work will also benefit threatened invertebrates, plants, and native moths and butterflies, as well as re-establish native vegetation cover.

2.   restore the Lower Wainuiomata River terraces and wetlands and enhancing the aquatic habitat

Key actions will be the removal of stock grazing, control of weeds and animal pests, and planting.   The initial focus will be on restoring native vegetation cover to riparian river terraces to prevent sedimentation of the river, and to provide shade, and eventually root masses, for native aquatic species.   Identified inanga-spawning areas will be planted with suitable native species, and native plant communities restored in the oxbow wetlands on the flood plain.   Sixteen sites have been selected, covering a range of ecosystems.

3.   protect and restore the biodiversity values of the coast

The removal of stock grazing, control of pest animals and weeds, and protection of flora and faunal communities from vehicles is proposed for this theme.   These actions will protect and restore the special coastal vegetation, (spinifex and pingao dunes, and cushion-fields), and fauna of the rocky coast, shingle dunes, and the coastal escarpment at Baring Head.   In addition, there is the opportunity to re- establish a dominant native vegetation cover.

As you will realise, this is an ambitious project.   It will require significant, but realistically achievable, support from the community, as well as the Friends and GWRC finding $300,000 - $350,000 between them.   Fundraising has begun, and a recruitment drive for volunteers is about to start.

If you would like to help, or receive more information, please contact me at 04 478 4391 or on rydercj (at)

Colin Ryder, Treasurer, Friends of Baring Head

Kauri dieback aerial survey on Waiheke Island

The fight against kauri dieback advanced to Waiheke Island in January, with an aerial survey to identify locations where the disease may have taken hold.

As one of the few areas believed to be free of the disease, Waiheke Island contains some of Auckland’s healthiest kauri forests.   To follow up on previous studies, Auckland Council’s survey sought to capture an accurate record of the state of health of Waiheke kauri.

A helicopter took photos of forest areas across the island.   The yellowing and canopy thinning symptoms of the disease can be easily seen from the air, making this a cost- effective way to identify and locate any kauri that appear sick.

This work has allowed the council’s biosecurity team to pinpoint exact locations of potentially sick trees for ground teams to contact relevant landowners regarding inspections and soil sampling.

Monitoring kauri from the air supplied the team with other valuable information about kauri, and lays a foundation for future studies by enabling comparisons between these images with any taken in the future.

The fungus-like disease has a devastating impact on our kauri forests, killing kauri of all ages and sizes, and effectively altering entire ecosystems that rely on these treasured giants.

Microscopic spores in the soil infect the roots and damage the tissues that carry nutrients within the tree, causing a relatively quick decline and death.   Kauri dieback can easily spread on dirty shoes, particularly from the mainland where many kauri forests are infected with the disease.

In kauri forests, please keep to tracks and off kauri roots, clean your shoes, bike and car tyres and equipment before and after visiting kauri forests.   Report any sightings of this deadly disease to 0800 NZ KAURI (0800 695 2874).

Source:   Auckland Council press release

Book review

Lichens of New Zealand:   An Introductory Illustrated Guide by Allison Knight.

Lichens of New Zealand
Lichens of New Zealand.
When I began trying to get to grips with lichens, in the mid- 1980s, I would have found a guide like this immensely helpful.   At the time, the only book with pictures in it was NZ Lichens by William Martin and John Child (1972).   This pioneering book has many black-and-white photos, one colour section, and colour photos on the front and back jacket.   The Flora of NZ Lichens by David Galloway (1985) was a vital resource, but it had only eight colour plates.   To help me gain a visual image for many more lichen genera, I got a book by Volkmar Wirth called Die Flechten Baden-Wurttemburgs (1987), i.e., the lichens of a province in SW Germany.   This book is in German but the photos are fantastic!!   And, of course, the names are in Latin so I had everything that I needed.   Lichen photography as an aid to identification really advanced in the late 1990s–2000 when Bill Malcolm with David Galloway published NZ Lichens:   Checklist, Key, and Glossary (1997), and Bill and Nancy Malcolm published NZ Lichens (2000).   Both books are full of fabulous illustrations and highly relevant text.   Then the Flora of NZ Lichens:   Revised Second Edition, Volume One (2007) by David Galloway has sixteen superb colour plates, some of which were provided by Allison Knight.

To me, pictures of lichens are so very helpful, because there is a wealth of terminology to understand when identifying lichens from keys and descriptions.   Photographs help by providing reassurance that your identification is likely to be correct.   They save a trip to a 10 herbarium to check against specimens named or verified by experts.   They also help to build a search image for different genera or species in the field.

Now Allison Knight has taken us a further step forward by providing a guide that can be taken into the field, and that links the lichens with the broad ecosystems in which they occur.   Allison’s book looks great, and should be really handy for beginners and students to access this tricky group.   I really like the way the lichens are illustrated in the four primary environments that they inhabit.   The photos are brilliant.   I especially like the general ones that show the luxuriance and diversity of lichens.   Looking at the picture of Collema subconveniens, I realised that I have to reset my brain Collema-wise.   I had thought of them all as looking rather gelatinous, like Collema leave (both illustrated on p. 18), but this is not the case.

Allison is working towards a book, following the publication of this guide.   I’m really looking forward to seeing the full book which I understand will expand the text.   I assume it will have photos of more species too.   I hope this book will have a section on lichen hunting, i.e., the different places to look for lichens in each major environment.   This has been done in the Illustrated Guide at a very high level already, by identifying the substrates, so I’m thinking Allison may already have that in mind.

Reviewed by Dr Carol West

LAWA web site

LAWA web site
LAWA web site.
This website is a great tool for people to find out what is happening in their local waterways.

The Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) web site: shares environmental information from councils throughout NZ in one place, and in an easy-to-understand format.   The first stage of the long-term project focuses on rivers, with data on state and trend displayed for more than 1100 freshwater monitoring sites.   Watch the introductory video:

The LAWA web site is a collaboration between NZ’s sixteen regional and unitary councils, the Ministry for the Environment, Cawthron Institute, and Massey University, with support from the Tindall Foundation.

Source:   Royal Society newsletter.

2013 NZ Journal of Botany prize

The 2013 NZ Journal of Botany prize for an author whose published paper has, in the opinion of the editorial board, made an outstanding contribution to southern hemisphere botany was recently awarded to Jessica Prebble for her paper:

Phylogenetic relationships and species delimitation of NZ bluebells (Wahlenbergia, Campanulaceae) based on analyses of AFLP data.

The judging panel felt that this paper represents an especially important addition to our knowledge of the NZ flora.   Jessie and her co-workers used contemporary technology to resolve long-standing taxonomic problems in a difficult plant group.

Jessie was awarded a certificate and a cheque by the journal’s senior editor, Professor Kevin Gould of Victoria University of Wellington, at a ceremony at Te Papa, Wellington.

Source:   Royal Society newsletter, February 2014

Yellow-leaf disease

This disease has been spreading slowly around Wellington.   It is the most serious disease to which flax species are susceptible.   It is caused by a phytoplasma, a specialised bacterium, transmitted by the native flax-plant hopper (Oliarus atkinsoni).   The leaves yellow in the first year.   The plant may die in the second year.

Wellington City Council is adopting a wait-and-see approach, and has reduced its planting of flax in reserves.   It is observing plants to see if they recover after two years.

The disease is not good news.   We may lose most, or even all, of the flaxes around the city.   However, there is not much that can be done to prevent it–it has happened before, and will probably recur.   At least flax is a fast-growing plant that should be able to recolonise its habitats in a few years’ time.

Source:   Southern Environmental Association newsletter, March 2014.   SEA, Box 24 523, Manners St, WN 6142.   Subscription $10 p.a.

Allen’s Bush, Wairarapa

The Nature Heritage Fund has purchased one of the last remaining areas of forest on the Wairarapa Plains.   Seven hectares of Allen’s Bush, between Masterton and Carterton, were purchased for $340,000.   DOC will gazette as Scenic Reserve the swamp forest with tall kahikatea.   It is contiguous with Lowes Bush Scenic Reserve, which BotSoc visited in the 1980s.

Source:   The Dominion Post, 1 February 2014.

Plant lists

If you would like an electronic copy of the plant list compiled on a field trip, please put your e-mail address on the registration form circulated by the trip leader at the start of the trip.   If you would like the plant list compiled during a trip you were unable to join, please ring the trip leader.

The committee

Eco-sourcing on site

Puangiangi Island, owned by Fauna Recovery NZ, is in the Rangitoto Group, near D’Urville Island, Marlborough Sounds.   Barry Dent and Peter Gaze, of Fauna Recovery NZ, spoke at BotSoc’s evening meeting on 18 March 2013.

In January, Barry and Peter traversed parts of the island that are not as flat as the rest.   “They were surprised to find two adult tawa in the southern forest.   The larger was c. 20 cm d.b.h., and over 8 m tall.   Tawa is an important component of the forest, not least in providing kereru food, and its presence lends further weight to our conclusion that active revegetation is not required.   A tawa seedling was recorded by Nelson BotSoc in 1996, but we did not find the seed source in our 2012 survey”.

Source:   Fauna Recovery NZ newsletter, February 2014.   Please refer to the Fauna Recovery NZ website Fauna Recovery NZ website to find out how to subscribe to this free newsletter.   It is published by Fauna Recovery NZ, the conservation arm of The Sue Freitag and Barry Dent Charitable Trust, NZ Registered Trust No. 46108.

Coprosma rigida (above) and Coprosma pedicellata (top) fruit, Wairarapa, February 2014.

Flowering and fruiting extremes

Many people have noticed that the last summer has been a particularly heavy flowering and fruiting season for some species, and a poor season for others.

Coprosma species, among others, have fruited profusely this year.

In contrast, northern rata in the Wellington region flowered poorly after a spectacular flowering in 2012 / 13.

Jeremy Rolfe

Go to Earlier News 2012-13.


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