In the Media

Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves in the Media

Media is a wonderful way to connect with the wider community and raise awareness of the all the things Friends of Tawa Bush is involved with and advocate for.

Scroll down to see some of the articles to date..

March 2022

Tawa Community Civic Awards 2022

The nominees of the Civic Awards for 2018 and a few extras

7 June 2018

Tawa Community Civic Awards 2018

The civic awards ceremony took place in the Tawa College staffroom on Thursday 7 June, with the Mayor presenting certificates to around 48 people or groups to thank them for the voluntary service they provide in this community. The occasion was well supported,
with Malcolm Sparrow (WCC councillor) and Richard Herbert (Tawa Community Board chair) reading out the citations for all those who had been nominated. This year we decided to not select a winner for each category. ‘Winning’ is not what the awards are all about. Their sole purpose is to show appreciation – in a public setting – to each of the volunteers who have been nominated.

Heritage and Environment Award – Wayne Pincott, Gil Roper, Helen Roper, Peter Saxon

Health and Wellbeing Award – Gary Beecroft

Excellence in Community Service Award – Richard Herbert

Ref Article: Tawa Link article

April 2017

Council wins bid for Tawa Forest

Ref Article: Collette Devlin


Save a million-dollar Tawa forest

Save a Million-dollar forest media article

Ref Article: Collette Devlin


Tawa bush becomes a reserve

Ref Article:

Community environmental volunteer group, Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves, is campaigning for Wellington City Council to make a bid to secure the 36 hectare, Forest of Tane.

20 February 2017

Million-dollar forest is for sale and Wellington ratepayers are looking at buying it

A million-dollar forest on the hills above Tawa is for sale, and locals are hoping Wellington ratepayers can save it from the clutch of developers.

Community environmental volunteer group, Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves, is campaigning for Wellington City Council to purchase the 36 hectare Forest of Tane.

Tenders for the area, which is marketed as a forest revenue opportunity with subdivision potential, close on February 27.

On Tuesday, councillors will receive a confidential briefing on a proposal to buy the forest, with a decision expected to be made at a public-excluded meeting on Wednesday.

Northern Ward councillors Peter Gilberd, Malcolm Sparrow and Jill Day will be urging councillors to support putting in a bid to acquire the forest.

Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves president Wayne Pincott said he understood the asking price was between $1.2 million and $1.5m

“There are no guarantees they will agree to buy it but we are optimistic.”

He hoped the council would offer a fair price, but not over the odds because it was ratepayer money, he said.

Pincott believed removing the trees would mean flooding risks from erosion, and sedimentation impacts.

“I think the council is better placed to get value for the community … than a developer would be able to get for the commercial value from it.”

The rural-zoned land was not suitable for higher density development and would make no significant difference to housing supply, he said.

“It’s also a key to achieving a long overdue completion of the northern reserves, which are currently under-represented in the outer green belt.”

If the council decided not to buy it, the group would consider fundraising and approaching the vendor to ask for a delay in the sale.

A walking track through the Forest of Tane, connects Tawa with the Spicer Forest Reserve and Wellington’s outer green belt, Te Araroa National Walkway, and Colonial Knob.

Gilberd, who is the city scientist and natural environment portfolio leader, said Tawa bush was well-recognised as an important corridor for migrating birdlife, connecting with Zealandia, Kapiti and Mana Islands, and other major reserve areas.

About 200 Tawa residents attended a meeting on Sunday where Wellington Mayor Justin Lester and councillors were asked to acquire the land.

Residents were told the city council had previously sought to buy the forest, with the intention of adding it to the Wellington Outer Green Belt and the area was listed in the council database for ‘protection’.

Stuff article here

Ref Stuff Article: Collette Devlin Feb 20 2017

Happy workers from Treasury and Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves on a recent planting day

October 2015

Tawa Planting with Treasury

Ref: Stuff Article October 2015

28 Jan 2015

Tawa bush a real gem

Bush walk a real gem 28 Jan 2015 Dom Post

Ref Article: Dominion Post Letter

Robin Thomson (Friends of Willowbank) and Richard Herbert (Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves) planting the tawa trees at Willowbank.
Photo courtesy of Malcolm Sparrow

11 September 2008

Community Civic Awards

The winners of the six categories at the recently-held Tawa Community Civic Awards were:
• Arts & Culture – Shona Murray
• Education & Child/Youth Development – Karen Hill
• Health & Wellbeing – Tawa Volunteer Fire Brigade
• Heritage & Environment – Richard Herbert
• Sport & Leisure – Jan Loader
• Excellence in Community Service – Allan Todd
Each winner received a framed certificate presented by the Mayor of Wellington along with a tawa tree sapling.   The trees won by Karen Hill, Richard Herbert and Allan Todd were planted at Willowbank Park on a recent Saturday morning, as seen in the photo above.

Ref: CityLife Porirua – Tawa Comunity Centre Advertising Feature 11 September 2008, p12.  

3 June 2008

Saving the Tawa bush, one tree at a time

Local bush restoration group Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves is doing its bit to help the environment this week by planting further native trees to extend the suburb’s few remaining bush remnants.

Celebrating both World Environment Day and Arbor Day (both June 5), FOTBR will be planting trees at Wilf Mexted Reserve, at the corner of Collins Avenue and Woodman Drive, in Linden, from 1.30pm this Sunday.

Some members of a Tawa Scouts patrol have already offered to help out and other members of the public are welcome to participate.

Friends president Richard Herbert says, “Just come along and walk the track and see the transformation of a previous gorsey hillside into a young rejuvenating forest.

“Two years ago before pest animal control commenced in the Wilf Mexted Reserve there was barely a bird to be heard here.   Now tui, grey warbler, fantail, kereru and others are common place and newly planted trees flourish without being eaten by possums.”

Everyone can become involved for Arbor Day – even in your own garden.   You can even get a native plant free through the Weed Swap event being run by DOC in Civic Square on Saturday, from 11am-3pm.

For further information on other Arbor Day activities contact your local city council or DOC office.

For more information on World Environment Day, see and

REF: Kapi-Mana News, 3 June 2008, p19.  

stream walkway

The level of community support has been sufficient enough to get this project off the ground and Mr Todd is confident it will be a great amenity for locals.

11 September 2008

Walkway Planning Progressing

Work is progressing on the Porirua Stream walkway.   “It’s going well,” says Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves secretary Alan Todd, “a lot of people are interested.”

“There will be a walkway running somewhere between Takapu Road and Porirua City boundary, adjacent to the stream.”   The level of community support has been sufficient enough to get this project off the ground and Mr Todd is confident it will be a great amenity for locals.

“There’s still a lot of planning to be done and I expect it will be some years to get it all through,” he says.   Planning issues include financing and the specifics of the route.

Ref: Northern Courier, 10 October 2007.    

10 October 2007

Bring Back The Birds

Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves are bringing back the birds.   Alan Todd, group secretary, says that by focussing on specific sites and improving them, more birds are being attracted into the reserves.   They have been busy over winter, planting more than 1,000 trees in areas like the Wilf Mexted Reserve, Larsen Crescent Reserve, Brasenose Reserve, and Redwood Bush Reserve.   And while the planting has certainly helped, it’s the possum control that has really done the trick, says Mr Todd.

“It used to be pretty well silent when we first began our work.   “Four or five years ago you could walk through and not hear a thing,” he says. “Now you can hear the Tui’s chatting away no problem at all, it’s great.   “We’ve certainly attracted quite a few back now; already we’ve got more Tui, Kereru, Warblers and Fantails.   “Targeting possums has been a great success that has had a marked effect on getting the bird life up.”

Possums were brought here to start a fur industry and at the height of the fur trade, trappers killed 20 million a year.   Today they are a massive threat to birdlife.   They eat new growth on trees and go back to the same tree night after night, eating it to death.   The trees provide food for and are home to the birds.   Possums also disturb nests and can eat eggs and chicks.   While not a problem in Tawa, at least for now, possums have been known to push kiwi out of their burrows so they can have a dry place to sleep!   If there were 20 possums in your garden they could eat 60 shopping bags (180kg) of vegetation in just one month.   Over a year they would eat more than two tonnes.   NZ’s 70 million possums chew through nearly seven and a half million tonnes of vegetation every year.

Fraser Jackson, president of ‘Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves’, says possum control is a continuing battle.   “About eight years ago we asked the city council and regional council what we could do to assist with possum control in the area, particularly Redwood Bush, and they agreed to put in a line of bait stations and we have maintained them ever since.   “The set of stations we maintain has expanded into Wilf Mexted reserve and neighbouring pine forests and recently Woodburn reserve in the Takapu road area.   “It’s just made an enormous difference to the food supply for the birds,” he says, “and to the seeding from some of the native trees in the reserve which are now able to regenerate.”   Will we ever get to see a ‘pest proof fence’ in Tawa?   “The areas that we have are not really suitable for that,” he says, “but we would be very concerned about any intrusion of residential areas into the bush reserves.”   “We really do need to preserve all of the significant bush areas and the regenerating forest on their boundaries so that we have as viable an ecosystem within them as is possible.”

Mr Jackson says that within our current environment, anything that can help fight global warming must be done.   “So this is also one contribution to that, the greening of the forest base, which is then available to reduce greenhouse gasses.   “There are some really major issues facing humankind – and I might be sounding like a raving greenie but I’m actually a conservative person in lots of ways – but unless we address these issues we’re going to be in a lot of trouble.”

Ref: Northern Courier, 10 October 2007.    

Scouts join spades with Friends of Tawa Bush reserves

Members of Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves and Tawa Scouts recently put in a top effort planting trees for Arbor Day.   Another working-bee is planned for this Sunday.

3 July 2007

Scouts join spades with Tawa Friends

Troops from Tawa Scouts joined forces with members of the Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves (FOTBR) recently to plant trees in Larsen Crescent Reserve.

Such working-bees are a regular activity for the FOTBR, which during the winter months focus on flexing their green thumbs.   Keen to help out, the Scouts were also working towards scouting service badges.

On this occasion a forgotten back corner of the reserve was transformed into a revegetation nursery which over time will provide valuable edge shelter to the main part of the reserve where mature stands of tawa and matai trees, unique to the Wellington area, provide an important food source for increasing numbers of native wood pigeons (kereru).

Before the planting FOTBR members had already cleared the area of gorse and blackberry.

“The weed removal and the shade and shelter provider by the planted trees will also provide a helping hand to the natural native regeneration process”, says Richard Herbert, working-bee co-ordinator.

FOTBR are holding another planting day this Sunday, July 8, at Brasenose Park in Redwood.   Members of the community are welcome to help out.

For more information, phone Mr Herbert on 232 6828 or see

Ref: Kapi-Mana News, 3 July 2007, p50

Scouts join spades with Friends of Tawa Bush reserves

Future Growth:   Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves and Tawa Scouts planted about 160 trees on Arbor Day in an effort to rebuild a canopy on the fringe of bush.   Photo supplied.

4 July 2007

Bush gets a boost

Tawa Scouts teamed up with Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves to extend the fringe of the bush on Arbor Day.

About 160 native trees, including tawa and totara, were planted at Larsen Cres Reserve to push forward the bush canopy.

Friends member Wayne Pincott says the border between suburbia and bush is often plagued by blackberry and gorse.

“Our aim is to clear the weeds and push the bush canopy right up to the houses.”

Some trees will grow quickly, providing a canopy that will help stunt weed regrowth.

Others, such as tawa and kahikatea, will grow up to 50m high.

The tawa is an important food source for the increasing population of kereru (native wood pigeon).

Mr Pincott says it is important young people cultivate an appreciation for bush and land.

“We do try to encourage young people to come along because this is their inheritance.”

The day went well, with Scouts and community members getting their hands dirty.

“People get really enthused about the work when it’s happening in their local community.”

During winter, the monthly working bees focus on tree planting.

Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves’ next planting day is Sun, July 8, Brasenose Park, Redwood.   For further information, ph Richard Herbert on (04) 232 6828, or visit

Benjamin Heather

Ref: CityLife Wellington North, 4 July 2007, p8.  

Willowbank Park Walkway

Stepping stones to progress:   Willowbank Park is where a proposed walkway through Tawa could begin.   Pictured are Friends of Tawa Bush president Fraser Jackson and community board chairperson Ngaire Best.   The two organizations are banding together to make the walkway a reality.

12 June 2007

Strong support for Tawa walkway

Meeting attracts residents from wider Wellington region.   A walkway running from Willowbank Park in Redwood and joining with Porirua’s walking tracks is in the pipeline, says Tawa Community Board chairperson Ngaire Best.

At a recent public meeting, Ms Best says there was a great turnout of residents who came to voice their opinions and concerns about the proposed walkway, which would run alongside Porirua Stream and the train tracks.

“At one point I counted 48 people,” she says.   “It’s terrific to see the community so interested.   I think people left very happy over the opportunity to have their say.”

People from as far as Ngaio and Khandallah were present on the night, proving that the project is of interest to the wider Wellington community.

“There is a strong need to see walking paths at a more gentle level,” says Ms Best.   “It’s really exciting.”

Most of the concerns brought up at the meeting were surrounding privacy and safety, all of which Ms Best says will be taken into consideration and will shape the outcome of the project.

The idea to create this kind of walking track has been “floating around in this community for as long as I can remember” say Ms Best, but it was the Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves who recently brought it up with the community board.

“They are very aware that they can’t pick it up as a project,” Ms Best says.   “They came to the community board and said ‘can you help, we need your support’.”

As a result, a number of people have already volunteered their time to create the Tawa Pathway Steering Group.   Ms Best says these people will head the project in terms of working with the Wellington City Council, On-track, Toll, and other related organizations to make the walkway a reality.

“What I would like is to see them put in a bid for the annual plan next year.”

While she says parts of the track could be developed quite quickly, there are other areas going through private property which will have to be addressed.

Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves president Fraser Jackson says the walkway is an exciting idea for Tawa and could add a different element to the community.


Ref: Kapi-Mana News, 12 June 2007, p7.   

Tawa weed busters,

14 March 2007

Stepping Out With Tawa Friends

Earlier this month, the Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves have once again jumped on board the Wellington City Council’s Stepping Out programme.

The award-winning programme includes a wide-range of walks around Wellington city and region – from gentle suburban strolls to challenging tramps on rugged terrain – giving people the opportunity to exercise and have fund at the same time.

The Friends are holding three walking events during March.   The first walk – Woodburn Bush Walk – was held on March 10.   The Friends will be hosting two Redwood Bush and Tawa Western Hills Walks on March 24 and March 31.

Participants for March 24 and 31 walk must meet the Friends at Achilles Close at 2pm.

According to FOTBR committee member Wayne Pincott, the walks are to encourage people to get out, exercise, meet people and enjoy the stunning views on the trails.

“This is our third or forth year of Stepping Out Walking Programme walks.   We work pretty closely with the Wellington City Council – they have helped fund and develop a lot of our resources,” Mr Pincott said.

Mt Pincott says the tracks are open to the public at any time however participating in the Stepping Out programme has its unique advantages.

“The Stepping Out walks are great because it’s always more interesting and rewarding of someone can explain the area to you,” Mr Pincott said.   “We haven’t had a problem catering for large crowds so anyone is welcome to attend,” he said.

To participate in the walks the friends request a gold coin donation however, Mr Pincott says, guests are still able to participate without placing a donation.

All the donations raised from the walks go towards the general running of FOTBR.

For the past six years, the Friends have developed walking tracks, planted about two thousand trees and controlled weeds and pests in the Tawa bush area.   The most common pest is the possum.

However, Mr Pincott say, during the past several years the group has decreased the number of possums in the area which has ultimately increased the bird life quantities.

Ref: Northern Courier, 14 March 2007, p3.  

13 March 2007

Ecological talk leads Tawa Bush AGM

Author John Sawyer will speak to Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves Inc (FOTBR) tomorrow night in what hopes to be both an informative and interesting meeting.

With the upsurge in interest in recent years in the use of native plants in home gardens, Mr Sawyer’s talk on plant conservation in an urban setting should be relevant for everyone from the green-fingered home gardener to those with more of a deeper ecological bent.

In his presentation Mr Sawyer will describe the importance of the New Zealand flora on a global scale and the reasons for its current continuing decline.   He will describe what actions can be taken by members of community restoration groups and gardeners seeking to conserve biodiversity, especially native plants in urban environments.   He will also talk about his recent book Plant Me Instead – a guide to environmentally friendly gardening and how individuals can make a difference in the conservation of New Zealand’s plant life.

Mr Sawyer has been a plant ecologist with the Department of Conservation for over 13 years.

Prior to his talk, Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves’ AGM will be held.   They will receive the financial accounts and the President’s Review for 2006.   Members present will elect a committee for the coming year.

FOTBR has had another productive year, says committee member Wayne Pincott, including development of the new St Annes – Greyfriars track and upgrading of other tracks, over 400 trees planted, along with continuing work on possum control.   “Members of the public have commented on the resurgence in bird life, especially tui and kereru, and the disappearance of possums from their roofs and rose gardens, since possum control commenced about five years ago.   A recent highlight was the successful breeding by a pair of moreporks in Redwood Bush, producing three fledglings, which is an above average brood.”

The AGM and Mr Sawyer’s presentation will be held at the Tawa Union Church, Elena Place, Tawa, tomorrow night (March 14) at 7.30pm.

FOTBR are again this year involved in Wellington City Council’s Stepping Out! campaign.

The walking promotion includes hundreds of opportunities to get some exercise, meet people and enjoy spectacular views.

“Why not use this opportunity to learn about the area’s heritage, art, flora and fauna while getting the health benefits of walking?” asks Mr Pincott.

FOTBR guided walks will be held on March 24 and 31.   They leave from Achilles Close at 2pm with a route through Redwood Bush and Tawa’s western hills.   It is a medium-grade walk that lasts about two-and-a-half hours.

Ref:  Kapi-Mana News, Tuesday, 13 March 2007 p55  

St Annes Walkway project

Members of the Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves, from left, Robin Thomson, Brian Carter, Bill Murray and Norm Robertson.

7 February 2007

Walk saves time

Schoolchildren who live on Greyfriars Cres in Tawa are going to have a much shorter walk to school.

Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves are working on their latest project, developing a path between Greyfriars Cres and St Annes Square.   Members of the group were leveling the path last week and plan to put down gravel to make it less slippery in winter, paid for by the Wellington City Council.

Greyfriars Cres resident Bill Murray was at the working bee and said it will make it a lot easier for his children, and others in the street, to get to and from school, saving them about 10 minutes’ walking time.

“This is really great for us.   It cuts out about 800 metres of walking in the morning.   It’s a convenience for us.”

Members of the Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves are volunteers, who help maintain and create walking paths and bush in the area.

Norm Robertson says he enjoys doing the work, despite the hard slog at times. “I love it.   I have always been interested in trees. I have no technical knowledge but years of experience.”

A main aim of the group is to foster regeneration of bush.   They focus on weeding, reducing possums and replanting natives.

Brian Carter says it’s great to go back to areas they have worked on.   “It’s good seeing progress, seeing improvements.”

Regular working bees are held twice a month.   Mr Robertson says there are always jobs to be do, but it’s a matter of prioritizing.   He says the path from Greyfriars Cres is very important. “We have to make it safe.   We need to get it done before the autumn rain.”

The Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves is a community group.   For more information, or to get involved contact Norm Robertson, 232 6359, or visit the website,

By Katie Chapman

Ref: Citylife – North Edition, February 07, 20076, p8

31 January 2007

Tawa bush buddies

The Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves advocates for the conservation of bush remnants generally within the Tawa area of Wellington City.

This includes the bush areas of : Larsen Crescent Reserve, Redwood Bush Reserve and Wilf Mexted Scenic Reserve.

Projects the Friends and the Council are working on include; repairing boundary fencing, signage, track development, pest plant control and possum control.   Initial priorities relate to conservation of Larsen Crescent Reserve and animal and pest plant control in Redwood Bush and these will be extended as plans are developed and resources identified.

Larsen Crescent Reserve

Larsen Crescent Reserve is a small reserve located on the slopes between Larsen Crescent and Peterhouse Street, north of Redwood Bush.   It covers an altitudinal range of 70 – 90 metres and is completely surrounded by urban residential development.   Its legal description is part Lot 4 DP402206, part Section 41 Porirua Survey District.

The remnant is very small and has been recently damaged by the felling of several of its canopy trees in 1996 and the subdivision in 2002 of the lower eastern portion for residential development.   However, it is still regarded as a regionally significant remnant site in terms of its age, diversity and species composition.

Notable specimen trees in the reserve include impressive stands of Matai and Tawa trees and mature specimens of Totara.

Redwood Bush

Redwood Bush is an irregularly-shaped (c. 10 ha) area of rolling hill country on the western slopes of Tawa generally running above Oriel Avenue to the ridgeline.   It covers an altitudinal range of 75 – 140 metres and is bordered by agricultural land (comprising mostly regenerating scrub), pine forest plantation and urban residential development.

Redwood Bush included in the greening area of the south western slopes of Tawa suburb.

The site’s conservation significance is due to the remnant tawa forest, which is uncommon around Wellington, and its regenerating broad-leaved forest with a healthy diversity of species.

Wilf Mexted Scenic Reserve

Wilf Mexted Scenic Reserve comprises a small rectangular shaped gully area (1.6 ha) above Greenacres on the north eastern slopes of Tawa at the junction of Collins Avenue and Woodman Drive.

It covers an altitudinal range of 75 – 100 metres and is bordered by agricultural land (pasture and pine plantation), urban commercial development and urban residential development.

Ref: Northern Courier – NEWS, 31 January, 2007, p9

Tawa Community Civic Awards 2006

CIVIC PRIDE: Tawa Community Civic award winners with community board chair Ngaire Best and deputy mayor Alick Shaw.   Representing Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves Inc were president Fraser Jackson and Secretary Allan Todd.

30 May 2006

Voluntary honours

THE efforts of some of Tawa’s more extraordinary volunteers were recognised at a civic awards ceremony last week.

While there were five overall winners, organiser Malcolm Sparrow says each of the 46 nominees deserved recognition.

Overall winners were: Carol Brieseman (arts and culture), Marie Andrewartha (educational and child / youth development), Christine Darnell (health and wellbeing), Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves Inc (heritage and environment) and Peter Nixon (sport and leisure).

Nominees were presented with a certificate reading “in appreciation of your voluntary work in the community of Tawa”, while category winners received a framed certificate along with a Tawa tree sapling.

Awards were presented at a ceremony attended by about 90 people, including one MP and the three Northern Ward Councillors.

Mr Sparrow and Tawa Community Board chair Ngaire Best read out the 46 nominees and gave a brief description of why they had been nominated.   Deputy mayor Alick Shaw presented the awards.

In her introductions, Ms Best explained the difficult decisions judges had to make, “We have 68 nominations for 46 different people or groups carrying out necessary but often thankless tasks in the community, on a primarily voluntary basis.   Many are unsung heroes.

“How do you determine a winner in each of our five categories?   It certainly wasn’t easy.   Although we’ve come up with a ‘winner’ in each category and a award for realising that, we really don’t value any less the roles everyone else plays, and for that reason all the other nominees will be receiving a certificate showing our appreciation for what they do.”

The evening showed how tightly knit the Tawa community is and always has been.

A former principal of Tawa College, who was nominated for his current role with the Tawa Historical Society, commented that the chief officer of fellow nominees the Tawa Volunteer Fire Brigade had been a pupil of his back in the 60s.


Ref: Northern Herald, May 30, 2006, p3

Map of Redwood bush

5 January 2005

Redwood Bush ideal walk for small kids

Most Wellingtonians can look out the window and see greenery somewhere:   we tend to take it for granted.   But those trees are only there because somebody made it their business to look after them.   The Wellington City Council takes care of the Town and Outer Belts, and many more parks and reserves.

But elsewhere, in all corners of the city, groups of volunteers give up their Sundays to plant trees and pull weeds, pick up rubbish, set possum and rat traps and clean up streams.

The Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves is one such taskforce.   They’ve adopted Larsen Crescent and Wilf Mexted Scenic Reserves, and the 10-hectare patch you’re about to walk through – Redwood Bush.

Since 2000, they’ve been nursing these precious remnants hack to health after decades of possum damage, clearance and rubbish dumping.

Last November, they built this track (Wellington City Council put in the steps, borders and bridges) so people could come and enjoy some of Wellington’s rarest forest – the last few mature tawa and kohekohe.

It’s a short easy jaunt:   even with stops to take in the trees, it’s probably an hour return at most.   This combined with the proximity to town means it’s an ideal one for small kids.

Add the sweetener of a park and (basic) playground at the far end, and it’s a winner.

This type of forest once covered much of the region, but more than 99 per cent of it fell to the axe and the match (the Beehive is lined extensively inside with tawa).   The cloak is now threadbare, scattered in tiny pockets left open to the wind and invasive weeds that sprout from dumped garden rubbish.

So Redwood Bush is a shady, priceless relic.

Initially, the bush floor is open (there’s a swing just inside that the kids won’t be able to resist) – lanky kawakawa reach up to the light on trunks that look like the bony fingers of a skeleton amid a few filmy ferns.   But the deeper you go, the more diverse the forest becomes.

The kohekohe have rewarded their Friends’ kindness with a lush canopy of fresh glossy leaves, and legions of little seedlings below.   Kohekohe is top of the possums’ menu, and without a network of traps and bait stations, they’d be in a sorry plight by now.

Large purple-black berries lie on the ground, looking a bit like olives.

These have fallen from the tawa overhead.   They’re big:   so big that there are few forest birds left capable of swallowing them.   But one still lives here.   You may hear the woosh of its wings, or find an iridescent green wing feather on the forest door.   It’s the kereru, or native pigeon and without its appetite and alimentary tract the tawa would be lost.

It’s a simple but beautifully elegant system.   The pigeon gobbles up the tawa berry, gets the benefit of its nutritious flesh, yet leaves the seed unharmed, primed in fact, for deposit far from the parent tree, often in its own little jump start of fertiliser.

Around December-January, you might also spot titoki berries on the track.   A fleshy scarlet fruit holds a glossy black seed in a woody capsule.   Maori lore mentions a drink distilled from these berries that “captured the intensity and glow of the earth’s hidden fires.”

Maori also pressed the seeds for oil, which was used as a hair groomer.

Soon, the interior becomes a snarl of supplejack, hangehange with its exquisite, musky scent and lush beds of ferns.

Even the common trees are noteworthy here, because there are some very old mahoe (you can tell them apart by all the canes of new growth shooting from around the gnarly old trunks), a huge griselinia and some tree fuchsia (the ones with the rusty-coloured bark hanging off in papery strips) and heketara, or tree daisies (they’re flowering right now in myriad white clusters).

You’ll also see some trunks shot through with holes.   These belong to putaputaweta, or marble leaf, and they’re tenement blocks of tree weta.

If the kids are up for it take them in perhaps a half hour before dark to suss out the best weta trees.   Make sure everyone has a torch.   Then it’s just a case of waiting quietly.

About half an hour after dusk, the weta will start reversing out cautiously.   They rest head first, so that any daytime predators are confronted with their spiny back legs at the entrance.   Then they’re off up the trunk on their nightly forage.

The track continue to climb gently to a small open knoll (there’s an excellent weta tree just below it right beside the track) where you get a view across the houses to the stark stucco ramparts of Grenada North.

From here, the track dips down to a small footbridge under much smaller, regenerating scrub till you can see down to Brasenose Park and the playground.

You can walk back along the streets if you wish, but it would be a shame when you’ve got such a delightful alternative back the way you came.


Priceless relic:   The deeper you go, the more diverse the forest becomes.

Getting There:   Take State Highway One out of Wellington about 10 kilometres to the Tawa off-ramp, then follow the ramp down Main Rd running north towards Tawa township.

You’ll see a big blue Transit sign announcing the tumoff left to Redwood, which is at the next roundabout, opposite Dress Smart.   The road hasn’t got a name on it but it’s Redwood Ave.

Go on up the hill and veer left at the top on to Oriel Ave.   Carry on for a kilometre till you see Achilles Close come up on your left.   The track begins at a small sealed car park next to a sign announcing Redwood Bush.   You can’t miss it.

Time:   Less than half an hour one way, over about 800 metres.

Bring:   Sandals are fine in the dry; light shoes if it’s been raining.   The track, like so many projects, starts out with a confident swagger – broad, benched and gravelled.   But the further from the road end it gets, the less sure of itself it seems.   The cambers increase and it narrows, but it’s still unmistakably navigable (You pass one side track, ungravelled, that heads off uphill through tall grass toward neighbouring Larsen Crescent reserve) and there’s no difficulty for the able-bodied.   The Friends of Tawa Bush Reserve website ( claims your grandmother can do this walk, and if she’s the Tina Turner kind of grandmother she probably can.

But there are several flights of steps, and physics and physiology will set the limits.   A walking pole will help.

You might want to take a picnic for Brasenose Park, which is also just the right shape for a cricket or soccer match.

Torches for each weta hunter at night.

Leave:   The sign says no mountain bikes, but is silent on the subject of dogs.

Refreshments:   Retrace your steps.   When you come back to Main Rd turn left and head toward Tawa.   On the right-hand side of the road you’ll encounter the Thai Country Cafe which promises “longevity through nutrition”.   Who could resist such an intriguing offer?

It you have your doubts, carry on to the end of town where you’ll find the End Zone Cafe on your left, or try Cafe Addict in the paved recess that passes for a mall in Tawa.

Ref: Dominion Post – Walkabout, Wednesday, January 5, 2005, p2

Police are seeking four teenagers in connection with a “hideaway” built of Native trees in Redwood Bush.

30 November 2004

Bush shack builders ‘wilfully destroyed’ 30 native trees

A “hideaway” made of native trees recently discovered in Redwood Bush is to be dismantled.

About 30 hinau and red matipo trees were cut down to build the hut and local bush-lovers are not best pleased.

“Our view is to decry the willful destruction of the beautiful bush.   The public is welcome to use and walk through the bush but we don’t want them doing this sort of thing,” said a Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves spokesperson.

He says cutting down the trees has resulted in the loss of about 20 square metres of tree canopy which will allow weed infestations into the bush.   Also, the surrounding area will dry out more quickly, particularly affecting the filmy ferns which require constant moisture.

“Having a gap allows more wind into the area as well and that will cause other trees to die.”

A number of trees nearby were also damaged “for the sheer fun of it” including a Tawa tree that appeared to be a lookout post, made by nailing wooden steps that climbed eight metres up to the top of the tree.

FOTBR, who have built walking tracks and work to protect the bush, discovered the construction on November 21.   They estimate that it had been there for about six weeks.   A 20 minute walk uphill to the site had not deterred the builders from carrying fence palings, hardy planks, a sofa, two chairs and even four solar powered lights.

Signs used for a roof were picked up along the way, including three ‘no stopping at all times’ and one Professionals Real Estate sign taken from Peterhouse Street nearby.

Three boys and a girl aged between 16-18 years old had been seen at the site of the hut.

Wellington City Council parks and gardens manager Paul Andrews says what they had done was an act of vandalism and they could be charged under the Reserves Act.

Obviously it’s not something we condone or want to see happening at all on any of our reserve land.   Perhaps ignorance is more of the issue but ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

Council would be removing the construction as well as the added furniture and the matter had been reported to the police, he says.   Tools used in the construction that were found in the bush could be claimed by contacting WCC.

Mr Andrews says there were other ways the teenagers could enjoy the bush.   “Perhaps they need to harness their energies in weed control or track maintenance so maybe they would like to give us a call.”


Ref: Kapi-Mana News – NEWS, November 30, 2004, p12  

28 October 2004

Wellington Airport Community Awards 2004

At the recent Wellington City Community awards Ceremony on Thursday 28 October at the Council Chambers the Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves received an award under the Heritage and Environment category.

These annual awards sponsored by Wellington International Airport Limited, in partnership with The Community Trust of Wellington, are made to recognise voluntary organisations and groups in the wider Wellington region that dedicate hours of voluntary time and energy every year in making our City a better place to live.   The prime focus of the awards is to ensure the wider community is aware of the work your group undertakes.   The Awards are intended to give recognition and also to provide some reward for the valuable contributions made by voluntary organisations and groups to the community in Wellington City.

1. Any group or organisation working in the interests of the Wellington City community can be nominated for the awards.
2. Individuals may, if they wish, nominate an organisation of which they are a member or official.
3. These Awards are designed to recognise past achievements or work already undertaken.
4. Nominations that focus on future activities will not be considered.
5. Commercially run organisations are excluded, but this criteria does not exclude groups, which initiate fund raising strategies to support the delivery of services by volunteers.

Individuals may nominate community organisations and groups for consideration under one of the following categories:
Heritage and environment – improve and revitalise the local environment, culture or heritage in Wellington City.
Health and wellbeing – provide services, which enhance the social wellbeing of people within Wellington City.
Arts and culture – enhance and increase participation in arts and creative leisure activities in Wellington City.
Sport and leisure – increase the participation and enjoyment in physical sport, leisure activities and recreational pursuits in Wellington City.
Educational and child/youth development – improve and enhance the educational and social development of children and youth in Wellington City.

Key factors considered by judges were:
• Voluntary Input
• Utilisation of Resources
• Initiative & Creativity
• Effectiveness of Activities
• How the organisation’s activities have impacted on the local area/district.

1. Outline the organisation’s objectives and goals, and detail actual accomplishments over the previous 12-month period.
2. Describe the community need for the work undertaken, how the need was identified and assessed, and how the community has benefited.
3. Describe how the organisation demonstrated levels of communication, co-ordination and cooperation within the community.
4. Outline how the wider community was involved.

Category winners received $500 and a certificate as illustrated below.   The winners of each category then joined with other winners from the five participating local authorities in the region; Wellington, Hutt, Upper Hutt, Porirua and Kapiti, at a function held at Wellington Airport in November.   The overall winner for the Heritage and Environment category for the Wellington Region was the Guardians of Pauatahanui Inlet to whom we offer our congratulations.

Ref: Kapi-Mana News – NEWS, November 30, 2004, p12  


NATURE’S WAY – Allan Todd enjoys the sights on the new track.

28 October 2004

Track accessible to all ages

BEAUTIFUL BUSH in Tawa can now be enjoyed more fully, thanks to a new path recently built by Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves.

Secretary Allan Todd says after 12 months of careful planning and obtaining necessary approvals, the track from Achilles Close to the Brasenose Track is now completed.

“This was designed in the hope that it can be used by grandmother and grandchildren – and, of course, everyone else as well.”

Less than a kilometer long, the track passes great old trees and crosses streams with just a few sheepish climbs.

FOTBR formed and gravelled the path, and Wellington City Council put in wooden steps, bridges and edging.

Not open to mountain bikes, the track is “an absolute must” for walkers, says Mr Todd, opening up a “jewel in the landscape of the Tawa basin”.

The new path in Redwood Bush joins others including one though adjoining Larsen Crescent reserve where a stand of over a dozen old matai trees are some of the treats in store for walkers.

FOTBR have also worked there, building a wooden pathway over the roots of the matai so they will be protected from trampers’ boots.

Mr Todd says the community has been great in getting involved in the reserve areas and more members are welcome.  

Ref: The Wellingtonian, October 28, 2004, p15.  

27 October 2004

Crimson glow returning to Tawa

The crimson low of Northern Rata blooms is returning to Tawa.

Once present in the bush of Tawa basin, Northern Rata is now making a come-back – thanks to the Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves (FOTBR). About 100 Northern Rata have recently been planted by FOTBR in Redwood Bush and Wilf Mexted reserve. It is part of a scheme named “Project Crimson”, which aims to see some endangered red-flowered trees of the forest planted.

FOTBR received a grant to buy a small number of Northern Rata, and Friends of Maara Roa helped out from their stocks. Committee members “have been paddling like Olympians and collecting gold on the way” during recent months, the Friends’ latest newsletter says. This “gold” has included a full coverage of possum bait stations in Wilf Mexted Reserve. “There is a team of volunteers working to keep the possums’ appetites satisfied. “In the first few months, that took a lot of bait and a lot of walking. “Things are a bit quieter now that a huge number of possums have been eliminated.

“The residents of Woodman Drive area are noticing the difference.   Roses bloom again,” the newsletter says. “Redwood Bush has been a jewel in the landscape of the Tawa basin, but only small areas have been accessible to the people who live nearby.

A track has now been formed through the bush from Achilles Close to the Brasenose Track (the old Army Track).“This was designed in the hope that it can be used by ’grandmother and grandchildren’ (but of course everyone else as well). “It is not a mountain track but does have some steepish climbs. “It is less than a kilometer but passes some great old trees, and crosses a couple of streams.”

A “crowning achievement” recently was the planting of more than 600 trees in the Wadham Grove Reserve. “We are confident that Wadham Grove Reserve will add a significant bird / bush link in the corridor system being established through the Tawa Bush Reserves,” the newsletter says.

Ref: Northern Courier, 27 October 2004, p9


Allan Todd say red-patterned trunks of matai trees in Tawa bush are easily enjoyed thanks to pathways that have opened the area to the public

18 October 2004

Tawa bush reserve open to all walkers

Beautiful bush in Tawa can now be enjoyed more fully, thanks to a new path recently built by Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves.

Secretary Allan Todd says after 12 months of careful planning and obtaining necessary approvals, the track from Achilles Close to the Brasenose Track is now completed.

“This was designed in the hope that it can be used by grandmother and grandchildren – and, of course, everyone else as well.”

Less than a kilometer long, the track passes great old trees and crosses streams with just a few sheepish climbs.

FOTBR formed and gravelled the path and Wellington City Council put in wooden steps, bridges and edging.

Not open to mountain bikes, the track is “an absolute must” for walkers, says Mr Todd, opening up a “jewel in the landscape of the Tawa basin”.

The new path in Redwood Bush joins others including one though adjoining Larsen Crescent reserve where a stand of over a dozen old matai trees are some of the treats in store for walkers.

FOTBR have also worked there, building a wooden pathway over the roots of the matai so they will be protected from trampers’ boots.

Mr Todd says the community has been great in getting involved in the reserve areas and more members are welcome.


Ref: Kapi-Mana News, October 18, 2004, p6. 

12 May 2004

Bush friends lay bait to ward off possums

Possums of Tawa take notice.

Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves are on to you and stepping up their fight.

The community environmental group has recently launched, with the help of the Wellington regional and city councils, 30 more possum bait stations in the Tawa valley.

Friends’ president Fraser Jackson says the new stations are being set up because of the success of earlier ones the group has maintained in the area.

“Since we began the programme, there has been a very big change in (native tree and plant) regrowth,” Mr Jackson says.

People in Mr. Jackson’s neighbourhood, concerned about the plight of native plants and birds in the area, formed the group in 1998.

They pinpointed the possum as one of the worst threats to native plants, by it eating shoots and leaves – and to birds, by stealing eggs and eating their food sources.

The group is currently working with the councils to install the bait stations around bush areas and will keep them baited and maintained.

“I got this job by default,” Friends member Joanna Hoshek says.

“Basically I was one of the youngest in the room at the time.

“So the job went to me.”

Friends’ secretary Allan Todd says the work is a great way for idealist young people to have a hands-on experience in making a difference to the environment.

The group’s role in successful native species renewal “has been dramatic”, he adds.

Anyone interested in helping maintain the bait stations can contact Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves
            R TYLER WARFIELD

Ref: Porirua City News, May 12, 2004, p5.   Written by Tyler Warfield.

The NZ Kiwi

29 April 2004

Bush friends working hard

While most of us want to see the regeneration and conservation of our native bush, working away in the background are others who are actually making it happen.   The Friends of Tawa Bush are now entering their third year of caring for and improving public access to local bush reserves.

Members have been busy collecting seeds locally and propagating them and the Friends’ nurseries hold 600 plants, around half of them tawa, kahikatea and totara, many ready to be inter-planted between those supplied last year by the Wellington City Council.

The challenge is also on this year to germinate the more “hard to grow” species like matai and rimu.

President Fraser Jackson says they see the Redwood Bush as the “Jewel in the Crown” of the northern sector of the city’s Outer Green Belt with the potential to become a “major focus of conservation and recreation activities in this part of the city”.

As well as the practical work, the Friends involve themselves with council’s policies on open space and conservation, and have entered into possum control with the assistance of the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

  • Wanted: Tetrapak milk cartons.   Friends of tawa Bush find them easy and cheap alternative to plastic nursery pots.   If you have any to donate call Damian Hewett on 232 3079.
  • For further information visit their website

Ref: Wellington Contact, April 29, 2004, p24.   Written by Tyler Warfield.

20 April 2004

Taking the trees into their own hands

While most of us want to see the regeneration and conservation of our native bush, working away in the background are others who are actually making it happen.   There are community-minded people like the Friends of Tawa Bush, now entering their third year of caring for, and improving public access to, local bush reserves.

Authorised members have been busy collecting seeds locally and propagating them.   Currently the Friends’ nurseries hold 600 plants, around half of them Tawa, Kahikatea and Totara, many ready to be inter-planted between plants supplied last year by Wellington City Council.

The challenge is also on this year to germinate the more “hard to grow” species like Matai and Rimu.

President Fraser Jackson says they see the Redwood Bush as the “Jewel in the Crown” of the northern sector of the city’s Outer Green Belt with the potential to become a “major focus of conservation and recreation activities in this part of the city”.

As well as the practical work, the Friends involve themselves with council’s policies on open space and conservation, and have entered into possum control with the assistance of the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

Another aim is educating the general public.   Nearly three quarters of invasive weeds in the bush reserves have escaped from nearby gardens or have been dumped in reserves.

For further information visit their website

Ref: Kapi-Mana News – NEWS, April 20, 2004, p15.   Written by Tyler Warfield.

The NZ Kiwi

3 March 2004

Tawa Bush friends explore Kiwi’s future

“Is the Kiwi Doomed?” This is the theme of tonight’s annual meeting of the Friends of the Tawa Bush Reserves.

Dr Hugh Robertson, National Kiwi Co-ordinator (Research and Monitoring) with the Department of Conservation, will be speaking on future prospects for the kiwi at the meeting, at 7.30pm today (3 March) at St Stephens Church, Tawa.

Dr Robertson has been working on Kiwi for some 12 years.

Earlier, he was responsible for Tui and Kereru programmes in the Department of Conservation.

He has, therefore, specialist knowledge of birds that have recently increased in numbers in the Tawa area.

The 2004 annual meeting comes at the end of the second year of the Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves as an incorporated society.

“This year has been one of consolidating the activities and bringing some improvements to fruition,” says the society’s president, Mr Fraser Jackson, in his annual report.

“However, it has also been one in which we have become much more aware of the issues relating to other segments of regenerating bush within the valley.

“(Wellington City) Council, too, are looking to us to provide local input on the new reserve in the Woodford Drive area and the area of regenerating bush they call Tawa Bush,” Mr Jackson says.

“During 2004, we will need to maintain the initiatives we have begun while still pressing development of some of the opportunities which the Outer Green Belt and Open Area Access Plan have raised.”

Friends of Tawa Bush Reserves see the Redwood Bush as the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of the northern sector of the Outer Green Belt.

“It has the potential of becoming a major focus of conservation and recreation activities in this part of the city.

“To enable a systematic development, it is essential that the two blocks of land between the existing reserve and the Airstrip block ultimately become part of the Outer Green Belt,” Mr Jackson says.

“Towards the end of the year we also worked on a submission on the Open Space Access Plan.

“While much of the submission related to the hillside bush reserves the committee were concerned nearly all walks provided were on more difficult terrain, and have urged that consideration be given to valley walks as well as hill ones.

“In particular, a walk down the Porirua Stream from Glen side to Kenepuru would provide a valued walk, an excellent route, and would link reserves and some of the hill walks in the area,” Mr Jackson says.

Ref: Northern Courier – NEWS, March 3, 2004, p18

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