Our branch looks after the streams and rivers that weave through the Upper Hutt area with riparian planting. We also look after birdlife in the region by controlling predators and do regular plant weedings.
Find out how you can get involved with any of our projects by keeping an eye on our events page.
Friends of the Hutt River
The Hutt river serves has significant ecological importance even though it is a relatively small river with a catchment area 250 square miles.
Historically the original vegetation of the Hutt Valley contained native sedge pingao, swampy marshes full of raupo, tall flaxes and toetoe. Over the last 200 years most of this vegetation has been cleared, in which the only remnants of the original vegetation is near the Hutt river banks.
The Upper Hutt is very involved in a care group to help protect the Hutt River. The Greater Wellington Regional Council has applied to take more water from the Hutt River for three years while strengthening and enlarging work is undertaken at the Te Marua water treatment plant.
The present rate of water extraction already leaves the river with insufficient flow for it to remain free of toxic algae during the summer. E-coli levels at certain parts of the river climb beyond accepted levels also. If consent is granted the water flow will be reduced by one third from its current level.
Hutt Valley people were so concerned about the GWRC’s application to take more water that they got together and formed a care group, ‘Friends of the Hutt River’.
This group has brought together several diverse organizations. People from Forest and Bird, Fish and Game, Rotary, Sustainable Towns and other caring individuals have come together to protect the Hutt river in hope that their combined voices will carry more weight and make politicians take notice.
Trentham Memorial Park
The branch works to restore a number of the waterways in this area, by re-planting, creating fish passages and removing unwanted weeds such as willows. The branch is working on removing a stand of karaka saplings and seedlings within the Domain Bush. With help from WellTech horticulture students, thousands of extremely invasive plants as well as cherry seedlings have been removed.
The Barton Street entrance to Trentham Memorial park is now looking much greener with the addition of new sedges, flaxes and rushes to the new island and surrounding banks. Volunteers have worked hard to decorate the entrance.
During the year 10 working bees have been held, and a total of 1126 plants have been planted throughout the area. Plant growth has been excellent after three good growing years, and trees and wetland plants are a good size, producing flowers and seeds in large quantities.
A large grant from DOC was received to remove all the remaining willows in one go. After two lots of weed spraying, 2205 wetland grasses, flax and cabbage trees were planted and have since grown well. More planting will continue in this area.
The Upper Hutt branch is involved in reducing the number of wilding pines and introduced animal pests such as possums, rats, mice, ferrets, stoats and cats.
Upper Hutt branch is now in their 15th year of possum management, with emphasis now being placed on more rat control.
Great Wellington Regional Council have reduced possum numbers by 85% their area. Rats are now being targeted as they are a serious threat to young birds and consume tree seeds and fruit.
Maidstone Park has been resurveyed for bait station location following the removal of most of the pine trees. Pindone is being used as the bait as rabbits are also considered a problem.
Tunnel Gully has being trialing a new metal rat trap ‘Kamate’ which has been working quite well.
Forest & Bird’s regenerating native forest reserve in the heart of Silverstream is open to the public. Miss Esther Mary North – Wellington Girls’ College headmistress from 1938-1950 – donated the property to Forest & Bird in 1965. The reserve is named after Miss North’s aunt, Miss Isabel Ecclesfield.
Miss Isabel North
Miss Isabel North gifted the reserve to Forest & Bird because she feared the property could be carved up for development, like other parts of Silverstream and Pinehaven after World War II. She wrote in an edition of Forest & Bird magazine: “… I know every turn and tree. Just recently I have been rather worried about it. The care of the bush becomes too much for me. There is the recurring fear of bushfires in February and March. There is the constant battle against vandals, chiefly boys. And now there is the struggle against progress. I mean building development. Rather than hear the bulldozers roaring up the slopes of my hills and valleys, rather than hear the mechanical saws leveling the trees and screaming at the birds, I would get up and go to Wellington, dreadful thought! “So I decided to offer it to the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand. I had some anxious moments of waiting and was really delighted that the Society felt able to undertake the care and attention of this area.” Miss North died in 1968 at the age of 76.
The reserve is made up of beech forest, manuka-kamahi and kanuka, and is part of a larger bush area with neighbouring Fendalton Recreation Reserve and Witako Scenic Reserve. Gorse is well under control now and also the wilding pines. The Upper Hutt branch has worked hard to plant over 100 natives on the reserve. There is still 100 more new trees to be planted.
A 40 minute circuit track follows steps cut into steep hillsides in parts. Te Kouka lookout gives expansive views of Silverstream.
European settlers burnt most of the Silverstream and Pinehaven hills for farming but Ecclesfield and other steep areas escaped the worst of the fires. Ecclesfield’s beech forest has some of the largest stands in the Wellington region.
Miss Ecclesfield bought the regenerating bush property in Silverstream in 1919 because of her love of native forest. She maintained the property with help from her niece and with the skilled bushman Frank “Rangi” Herbert Phillips. . He lived in a cottage on the property, and one of the reserve tracks is named after him. (side bar maybe?)
Plants found in the reserve include:
• Black beech, hard beech and rimu
• Kanuka, kohuhu, tarata, mahoe , mapou, kamahi, tawa and lancewood
• Rangiora, tree ferns, hangehange, five finger and mingimingi
• Hound’s tongue ferns, crown ferns and native orchids
Birds found in the reserve include:
• Wood pigeon (kereru)
Ecclesfield Reserve Walk
Location: The reserve is located at 31 Blue Mountains Road Silverstream, Upper Hutt.
The Ecclesfield Reserve walk contains easy walking tracks through tawa and beech forest. Many native trees and plants can be found including kamahi, tawa, lancewood and different types of ferns.
The tracks are well marked with a lookout situated at the western corner of the reserve on the Te Kouka Knob. Views of the surrounding area can also be obtained from other vantage points.
Old Man's Beard, River Road, Upper Hutt
The branch has recently started a project to control the Old Man's Beard growing in the western hills along River Road. We have started at the southern (Silverstaream) end of the road and over the next few months will work our way north to the entrance to Riverstone. At present there is a team of about 10 who meet during the week and work our way from the base of the equake escarpment to the top and are cutting and pasting the larger vines and we will come back and spraycut any regrowth in about 9 months time.
We are also interested in any vines that people identify in Upper Hutt, so they can be treated to stop this invasive vine spreading any further in Upper Hutt.