Te Ara a Rangituhi: explore a remnant of our thriving forests

Porirua showcases the power of community and council to protect and support native forest remnants, and return our vegetation to its former glory

Thousands of years ago, a New Zealand untouched by humans was a land coloured by wild and vibrant native bush. Over time, urban development and farming cut back the thriving greenery.

The past decade, however, has seen a surge of conservation work and a focused effort on protecting native remnants. Porirua, home to Te Ara a Rangituhi, is one such area that showcases these efforts.

From then to now

Originally, Wellington’s Northern area was covered with rātā, rimu, totara and Kahikatea, with nikau and flax ferns common in the dense undergrowth. Despite widespread reduction of forests through farming and logging, remnants remain. These predominantly consist of kohekohe, tawa and rewarewa, while on higher slopes māhoe, broadleaf, stinkwood and mapou plants are common.

At approximately 110 hectares, Te Rahui o Rangituhi is a large recreation reserve located in the middle of Te Ara a Rangituhi. Located between Porirua Scenic Reserve, administered by Porirua City Council, and Colonial Knob Scenic Reserve, administered by the Department of Conservation, the ex-farmland is progressively being returned to its natural state.

Today the area has populations of native geckos and skinks. Our native orchids are also present in their rocky outcrop habitats.

Community and council regeneration efforts

In recent years, Tawa residents have risen to the task of protecting ecological treasures. Friends of Tawa Bush is a local community group with three core focuses: being guardians of bush reserves, organising regular working bees and education. The group has been involved in boundary fencing, signage, track development and maintenance, pest plant and possum control, and planting.

Meanwhile, Porirua City Council has one of the largest Council reserve areas in the country to look after, and as such is at the helm of crucial projects. Enrichment planting is one way forest remnants are supported. Specific species are planted in their original habitat along with primary colonisers, the hardiest of plants, to give the native trees shelter as they grow.

A long term project of Porirua Council is to develop a blue/green network. With similar projects implemented in other parts of New Zealand, these networks are a holistic way of planning, combining both water-based elements and vegetation-based elements.

By connecting and managing the two as one network, while also acknowledging the urban grey space, different issues can be addressed simultaneously. Councils can reduce the risk of flooding, enhance ecological corridors and riparian margins, improve water quality, increase amenity and sense of place, extend walkways and protect cultural values.

To visit today

To visit Te Ara a Rangituhi and try your hand at a trail such as Te Ara Utiwai, you’ll adventure through lowland forest supporting five species of podocarp, coastal kohekohe and tawa, and take in spectacular views from the summit of Rangituhi, extending from the Kaikōura Ranges to Mount Taranaki.

When in reserves it is important to keep to the track, as this helps to preserve our natural environment.

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