Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves

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Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves in the News - prior to 2004

6 November 2003

New possum control focus in the northern suburbs


TAWA’S Wilf Mexted Scenic Reserve is the focus of possum eradicators in an ongoing attempt to preserve rare native trees and the local native bird population.

The Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves say possums are having a serious impact on the piece of bush east of Tawa, so on November 4 they initiated possum baiting in the reserve and will continue to monitor the bait stations.

The community group has worked intensively for four years to preserve and rejuvenate north Wellington’s indigenous plant and animal life and now want to ensure another of their local reserves is sustained.   Society president, Frazer Jackson, says possum control in the Redwood Bush reserve has so positively changed the environment and improved the undergrowth that they pushed for the possum baiting to include the Wilf Mexted reserve.

“That bush is just too valuable not to protect.   There are trees in there that are not in any of the other reserves.   The association’s initial and primary concern now is to improve the environment and long-term health of plant and animal life there.”

He says the effects of possums on the vegetation in the area are devastating but Wellington City and Greater Wellington Regional council’s implementation of possum control in other areas has shown remarkable results.

“Possum control has been going on for four years and is starting to have a real impact, not only on the young growth and rejuvenation of the bush floor but also on the availability of seeds for young birds.”

He says the Tawa group, established in 1999, is hoping that improvements in the environmental sustainability of the reserve will encourage more native warblers, wood pigeons, fantails and tuis back to the bush.

The new control work jointly funded by Greater Wellington Regional and Wellington City councils involves the anti-coagulant brodifacoum.   The blue pellets will be at bait stations set not closer than five metres from walking tracks and dog owners in the area are asked to keep their animals under control.

GWR bio security officer, Ken Wright says the poison is a bit like a rat bait, but has a slow release, meaning it takes time for the animal to die.

“As far as poisons go it is a good one as it has a slow action.   All dogs in the area should be kept on a leash.   If a dog does come into contact with the poison or with a dead animal there is an antidote and the dog should be taken straight to the vet.”

REF: Wellington Contact, November 6, 2003, p 10.

Waging war on possums in Tawa

GW Public Notice

Thanks to an eradication programme commenced in Tawa reserve last week, possums are to disappear while native birds will flourish.

But dog owners are being warned to keep a close eye on their pets.

The eradication programme is underway in Wilf Mexted Scenic Reserve, and aims to provide a better environment for Wellington’s growing native bird population.

Beginning with six months of intensive baiting using non-controlled pesticides from bait stations, it will be on-going to keep possum numbers low.

Greater Wellington Regional Council spokesperson Ken Wright says this is a safe and effective way of getting rid of possums in urban areas.

He says every effort will be made to keep bait out of reach from dogs, but owners should keep them on leads in the reserve and stop them from scavenging dead animals.

“If dogs do come into contact with dead possums or bait they should be taken to a vet immediately.”

Stations will be placed at least five metres away from walking tracks and roads and only where there is vegetation.

Anyone wanting to help Friends of Tawa Bush Reserve fill the bait stations can contact Frazer Jackson on 232 8852.

REF: Kapi-Mana News, November 11, 2003, p 23.

Next round in fight against possums

The next offensive in the war against possums has been launched by Greater Wellington regional council in Tawa’s Wilf Mexted Scenic Reserve.   Friends of Tawa Bush Reserve began filling bait stations in the area last week.

Greater Wellington spokesperson Ken Wright warns dog owners to control their animals at all times in the area. “If dogs do come into contact with dead possums or bait they should he taken to a vet immediately,” he says.

REF: Porirua City News, November 12, 2003, p 5.

28 May 2003

Making Tawa greener

Tree Huggers

An organisation of enthusiastic Tawa residents dedicated to restoring the suburb’s bush has been given a cash injection to carry on with its greening efforts.

For the past year Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves Incorporated has been developing tracks, monitoring possum bait stations, planting trees and carrying out pest eradication around Larsen Crescent, Redwood Bush and Wilf Mexted Scenic reserves in an effort to conserve the last remnants of bush in the Tawa basin.

Wellington City Council recently came to the party, giving the group a $1500 grant to assist in developing a seeding and planting programme, aimed at increasing membership and awareness of the organisation.

Chairman Fraser Jackson says the grants are in line with the council’s vision of involving local communities in conservation work.

“Wellington (City Council) is actually very active in making use of volunteers to take care of their parks and gardens.”

Mr. Jackson explains the organisation was set up by a group of people who are passionate about preserving some of the Capital’s indigenous greenery.

“We feel that reserves like these contribute to the whole of the community.”

The majority of the people currently involved live adjacent to the bush, however, Mr. Jackson says he is keen to see membership numbers boosted.

“We are particularly concerned that we would like to attract greater numbers of younger people.”

Apart from hands-on conservation work the group’s activities also include conducting guided walks in the reserves, monitoring sightings of unusual birds and actively informing the public about noxious plants growing in private gardens.   For more information or to sign up as a volunteer phone Fraser Jackson on 232 8852 or secretary Allan Todd on 232 7386.

The organisation also has a website at

REF: Porirua City News, May 28, 2003, p3

January 2003

Friends Indeed - healing Tawa’s reserves

Jo and Allan photo

Jo Hoshek and Allan Todd enjoy the regrowth of Larsen Crescent Reserve, Tawa.   Allan is secretary of Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves, a volunteer group set up in 1999 to bring the area’s remnant forest back to health.   Jo is the group’s possum control co-ordinator.

Allan Todd can’t help smiling.   It’s spring, and a warming sun is beaming through the holes in the kawakawa leaves.   The canopy is ringing to a peal of tui, and from higher still comes the swish of kereru wings.   “This is how it should be,” he says, as a warbler flits by.   “This is New Zealand.”

Larsen Crescent Reserve is a half-hectare remnant of still healthy matai and tawa, the kind of forest that completely cloaked these low hills north of Wellington.

The early settlers thought better of trying to wrest trees out of these steep gullies, and the place has survived a couple of more recent subdivision plans, thanks to public indignation and Wellington City Council, which stepped in to buy the reserve.

But Allan Todd wasn’t prepared to leave it at that.   Three years ago he helped form the Friends of Larsen Crescent, a group of volunteers committed to protecting this little piece of natural history for good.

The group wants to bring the bush back to life - evict the possums and rats, pull out the weeds and bring the birds back.

But if Allan has his way, it won’t stop there.   Now, with 60 “mostly older” members, the group has expanded its brief to include nearly 10.6 ha Redwood Bush, which was once also threatened by the bulldozers.   The Friends of Larsen Crescent are now formally known as the Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves.

And they share his dream.   “The enthusiasm of the volunteers has been quite remarkable,” he says.

Jo Hoshek, for instance, is the woman who leads the charge on Larsen Crescent’s pests.   She overseas the maintenance of some 60 poison stations, put in by Greater Wellington - The Regional Council and now managed by the Friends.

Once a month, in a casual rotation, pairs of the volunteers service five lines, replacing baits and keeping a record of bait use so that Greater Wellington can organise new supplies.

Although the possum programme only began in March, she says the difference was almost immediate.   “We’re getting a lot more birds in here now - tui, wood pigeons, fantails and warblers.”

“And the regrowth has been quite remarkable”, she says.   “The native fuchsia especially, is really coming away.”

Possum bait station

Allan Todd places a possum bait station.

Jo says that by tackling the possums with Brodifacoum, she hopes to control rat numbers too.   It will also kill mustelids like stoats and ferrets when they feed on poisoned carcasses.

Recently, Wellington City Council and a neighbouring farmer erected a boundary fence across the top of the reserve, which has kept wandering stock away from vulnerable seedlings.

While some planting is needed in the bigger, more open Redwood Bush reserve nearby, Allan says that revegetation is not high on the agenda in Larsen Crescent.

“This reserve is significant because of the quality of the trees.   It doesn’t need extensive replanting.   We’re asking for plants from the City Council to put around the periphery to stop wind burn - fast growing plants like ngaio and taupata.”

And then there are the plants they don’t want.   The reserve sits amid the suburbs, and some householders have been using the bush as a rubbish dump for years.   Many of the most heinous plant pests were introduced with garden clippings.

Jo Hoshek counts off a botanical rogues’ gallery on her fingers.   “Wandering willie, artillery plant, wild ginger, Japanese and Himalayan honeysuckle, we wanted to take them out and give the natives a chance.”

She says old man’s beard presents the greatest challenge.   “You have to chop it off at the stump and then paint it with a herbicide,” she says.   “And you have to catch any regrowth very quickly.”

But the restoration of Larsen Crescent isn’t the only about exclusion.   The Friends have started cutting walking tracks through the bush so that others can enjoy the fruits of their labours.

“People were wandering all over the place, having parties and leaving cans and bottles behind and trampling the young plants,” says Allan Todd.   “We believe a track will control that sort of thing.”

In the future, he says, he would like to see more well-established trees, particularly in Redwood Bush, to make a corridor for the birds.

The reserves will be a corridor for people too.   One day, tracks will link Larsen Crescent and Redwood Bush to walks along the Outer Green Belt in the hills behind Tawa.   “That will be a big attraction,” says Allan.

Jo agrees.   “Future generations will need somewhere like this where they can walk and get some peace.”

The formation of the Friends, says Allan, has galvanised a feeling of local ownership and responsibility.   They’ve made a running start on their dream.   But he says it still comes down to individuals.

“It’s not the organisation so much as the people’s vision of what they would like to see.

“You’ve got to have people with enthusiasm.   And that’s the key to our success.   They get the spirit of the thing and they go from there.”

REF: Branch Out Vol7: Summer 2002/03 - A magazine of the Wellington City Council Parks and Gardens Business Unit.
(Photography and story by Dave Hansford)

12 April 2002

Volunteers protect “beautiful” Tawa bush

Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves members

GREEN AND PLEASANT - From left, Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves members Allan Todd, Brian Carter, Fraser Jackson, Jo Hoshek, Damian Hewett, Marjorie Todd, Ken Matthews, and Town Belt Curator Jo Gillanders check out the Larsen Crescent Reserve.

Volunteers have banded together to form a group dedicated to protecting and enhancing the bush areas in and around Tawa.

And the new Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves is looking for more members who enjoy the great outdoors and aren’t afraid of a bit of hard work.

The bush areas to be covered by the group include Larsen Crescent Reserve, Redwood Bush, Wilf Mexted Scenic Reserve and, eventually, the large block of former Transpower farmland and regenerating bush on the hills above Grenada North.

The group has been launched as an incorporated society.   “Tawa is home to some of the most significant areas of native bush in the city and there are a lot of people keen to work together to protect this beautiful natural asset,” says Friends President Fraser Jackson.   “But we’re always eager to see more people - it’s all about many hands making light work.”

City Council Town Belt and Reserves Curator Joanna Gillanders is thrilled with the launch of the new society.   “The green areas in our city belong to everyone and although the Council works hard to maintain them - we can’t be everywhere at all times.   It’s wonderful that people are coming together to protect these assets.” Projects the group and the Council are working on include repairing boundary fencing, signage, track development and possum control.

If you are interested in joining the group please contact Fraser Jackson, tel 232 8852 or Allan Todd, tel 232 7386 or Joanna Gillanders, tel 801 3607 or email


22 February 2002

Volunteers to protect “beautiful” Tawa bush

Volunteers are banding together to form the Friends of the Larsen Crescent Reserve and Redwood Bush to protect and maintain these bush areas in Tawa.

“Larsen Crescent Reserve and Redwood Bush are two of the most significant areas of native bush in Wellington and there are a lot of people keen to work together to protect this beautiful natural asset,” says local resident Fraser Jackson.

Mr Jackson says the group is being launched as an incorporated society.

“Wellington has a history of successful Friends groups associated with reserves and gardens.   We want to start as we mean to go on.”

The first public meeting is on Wednesday 27 February at 7.30pm at the Tawa Service Centre, Cambridge Street, Tawa.

“Interested members of the public are most welcome to attend,” says Mr Jackson.

“We want anyone in the city who enjoys being in the outdoors and isn’t afraid of a bit of hard work to come along and get involved.”

Dr John Dawson, Chairman of the Otari/Wilton’s Bush Trust and an authority on New Zealand native flora, will give an illustrated talk on native bush remnants.   The meeting will also cover the aims and objectives of the group and elect committee members.

Wellington City Council Town Belt and Reserves Curator Joanna Gillanders is thrilled with the launch of the new society.

“The green areas in our city belong to everyone and although the City Council works hard to maintain them - we can’t be everywhere at all times.   It’s wonderful that so many people are coming together to protect these natural assets.”

Projects the group and the Council are working on include repairing the boundary fencing, signage, track development and possum control.

For further details please contact:

Fraser Jackson, tel 232 8852 or Allan Todd, tel 232 7386

Joanna Gillanders, Town Belt & Reserves Curator, tel 801 3607.


15 December 1999

Big fat possums routed as happy gardeners dig in

Bush around Ngaio and Crofton Downs, the Ngauranga Gorge area and Tawa are the battlefronts to be opened this summer in the war against possums.

The Wellington City Council and Wellington Regional Council, morale boosted after last summer’s devastating campaigns that largely wiped out possums in Khandallah and Johnsonville Parks, will move in to the new areas with poison bait and traps in the New Year.

Both the natural and man-made environments benefit from the onslaughts.   In Khandallah, native bush is regenerating faster – and gardeners are reporting that fruit, vegetables and flowers are actually reaching maturity – rather than being turned into dinner for hordes of gluttonous, overweight, marsupials.

Andy Foster, Chair of the City Council’s Environment and Recreation Committee, says some 3000 possums were removed from traps in Khandallah Park last summer.   The numbers killed by poison bait are unknown – but also believed to be significant.   “That is a huge contribution to our efforts to restore native bush and native birdlife around the city.

“This campaign against possums fits perfectly with long-term strategies of both the City and Regional Councils which focus on environmental sustainability but, just as importantly, it helps gardeners in their battles with the beasts.”

City Council Town Belt and Reserves Curator Derek Thompson says Regional Council workers have been contracted to kill off possums in the following areas next year:

  • Hill country behind Otari, Chartwell, Crofton Downs and Ngaio (this land was purchased by the City Council last year.   It will eventually form part of the Outer Town Belt linking Mt Kaukau with Otari.
  • Tyers Gully, between the Ngauranga Gorge and Khandallah, and various areas of regenerating native bush on the steep slopes above the Hutt Road, between Kaiwharawhara and Ngauranga.
  • Redwood Bush and the Larsen Crescent Reserve on the western fringes of Tawa.

Regional Council Biosecurity Officer Ken Wright says possums in all these areas are big and fat.   “They’re living the high life - apart from eating the best berries and shoots in the native bush they’re also choosing the best fruit, vegetables and plants in the gardens.

“We get a lot of complaints from property owners - they aren’t impressed by these pests and their appetites.   But the amount of good feedback we’ve received in the last few months – especially from Khandallah gardeners - has been well worth the effort.”

The Khandallah possum population has plummeted since last summer’s campaign.   Before it started, an assessment estimated Khandallah Park had the most concentrated possum population in the region.   The possums were also all big - weighing in at up to 3.5kg.

However a recent Key Native Ecosystems (KNE) survey has found that plants and native birds are proliferating in the park – a sure sign, according to Ken Wright, that the possums have been decimated.

The new possum programme will start on 26 January and run till August 2000.   A full range of control methods will be used to suit differing locations.   Secured bait stations will be used in areas closest to houses.   The stations will dispense Feratox pellets and anticoagulant Brodifacoum and Cholecalciferol pellets.   On the upper slopes between Kaukau and Otari, traps and cyanide paste will be used.

The methods have been approved by the Medical officer of Health and City Council environmental health officers.   Warning signs will be placed at all main entrances to the parks and Ken Wright says people exercising their dogs in these parks should make sure their pets are on a leash and kept well clear of the baits.

Cr Andy Foster says the possum control campaign is part of an operation to create a “corridor” of possum-free native bush from the South Coast to Mt Kaukau.   It will complement the work under way to create a genuinely pest-free haven at the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary.

And Derek Thompson says the latest campaign follows the success of possum control programmes at Otari, Johnston Hill and Trelissick Park.

He says: “We can’t seriously expect native bush to regenerate, and expect native birds to return to the city, if the bush is being constantly eaten down by possums.

“Not only do these animals go for the tender seedlings and shoots, thus slowing down growth, but they also eat native fruits - which means less food for native birds and less forest for the future.   The native birds are the mechanism by which native forests regenerate.”

For further details please contact

Ken Wright, Greater Wellington - The Regional Council, tel 526 5327, mob 025 742 028
Cr Andy Foster, tel 934 9220, pager 026 111 527
Derek Thompson, Wellington City Council, tel 801 3607
Richard MacLean, Wellington City Council Communications, tel 801 3578, mobile 025 453 837.

REF: PR000467.HTM

27 November 1996

Court stops Tawa native tree felling

Larsen Crescent Reserve 1996

FOREST FURY – Outraged Tawa residents gather among the trees felled today.   In front, are Fraser Jackson, Sam Allan, 4, Matthew Allan, 3, their mother Fiona Allan, and Grace Allan, 2.
Picture: Craig Simcox.

Wellington City Council has been granted a court order to stop a Tawa developer felling native bush.

Larsen Crescent residents are outraged that the forest near their houses was being chainsawn yesterday to make way for a 10-lot residential allotment.

Council officers got an Environment Court enforcement order to stop the felling about 5pm after discussions with the developer, Lee Newman, were unsuccessful.

Council officers recommended last week that consent for the subdivision be refused to protect pre-European remnant forest containing tawa, matai, totara, pukatea and kohekohe, and a heritage order be paced on the site.

However, at 1pm yesterday Larsen Crescent residents heard chainsaws on the property and saw trees being cut down. Police were called to prevent them entering the property.

Resident Fraser Jackson said residents were very angry about the forest being destroyed.

A resource consent hearing for the subdivision was being held today at Wellington City Council.

Eighteen submissions, some with multiple signatures, opposed the subdivision on the basis that the forest has significant heritage value and should be protected.

The Department of Conservation says the forest is of national importance and its loss will adversely affect native bird life.   Two submissions conditionally support the subdivision.

Mr Newman refused to comment on his actions yesterday.

Wellington Botanical Society vice-president Barbara Mitcalfe said the forest should be protected as a reserve.   The society would attempt to get the council to reinstate tree protection orders that had been withdrawn from the District Plan and seek NZ Institute of Horticulture protection for the site.


REF: Evening Post, 27 November 1996, p3

26 August 1972


Redwood Bush 1972

Part of the stand of tawa trees in Redwood, Tawa, which is being cleared for housing, and which has raised a storm of protests from local residents.   About 200 concerned residents met this week and elected a deputation to approach the Tawa Borough Council "to take every step within its power to have the bush preserved."   The Minister for the Environment (Mr MacIntyre) said in Parliament this week that he was not in a position to stop the cutting of the bush, four acres of which is being cut down.

REF: Evening Post, 26 August 1972

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Last Updated 7th January 2005