In 2023, a total of 9 regular A Rocha working bees went ahead at Waiu Park. These were supplemented by some extra efforts for specific tasks like removing the huge summer grass growth in January. The May and September working bees were cancelled because of rain, and during winter, our current area certainly lived up to its ‘wetland’ designation. From about 20 volunteers, the average turnout was 9 each month. As a result of several articles in the Wainui News we now have some new members from the Wainuiomata side of the hill. Thanks to Frank Neill for his regular reports in the local newspaper.
In the Autumn, the first task was releasing plants from the prolific growth of grass and reeds over the summer. Near the damp strip by the older trees, fast growing clumps of reeds threatened to overwhelm the multiple seedlings of coprosma robusta and manuka coming through. To prepare for planting, we cleared as much blackberry as possible up towards the path, leaving just a thin strip along the South West-boundary beside the BMX track. Drake, the youngest member of our team, has a knack of finding and extracting buried car parts including tyres, upholstery, door panels and even engine blocks, from the days when Waiu was used as a tip. Some of the largest items will probably be too difficult to shift, and may have to be reburied and planted over.
In June and July, about 350 plants went into the ground. Over the years we have kept to a similar mix of carex, toetoe, harakeke, manuka, cordyline australis and pittosporum. We have received great support from Hutt City Council through Jonathan Bussell, who continues to do a great job distributing plants to restoration groups in the absence of a replacement council Reserves Ranger. In September, Jonathan also gave us first choice of some extra plants, which included 33 kahikatea. These were appropriately spaced throughout the site.
Unfortunately, over the winter, it was obvious that deer had been roaming down from the hills, nibbling on young plants and leaving their droppings. This problem has also been noticed by Forest & Bird teams in the park. Also, In the last couple of months, the reeds have multiplied and present a challenge for next year.
In December, Hutt City Mayor Campbell Barry held a reception to thank all the conservation groups in the city for their efforts. He remarked that as a boy he lived near Waiu Park and remembers playing on some of the abandoned car bodies we are now discovering!
It has been great to have the picnic table for morning teas this year. Thanks again to Kapiti Anglican Parish for their donation to make this possible. Special thanks to Penelope and Jean for providing morning tea. This is a time enjoyed by all of us. Most of all, thank you to all our loyal volunteers who have given their time and energy to this project in 2023. It is a privilege to be involved with you on this restoration journey.