In the “Protecting and restoring our natural heritage - a practical guide

Restoration of Tiritiri Matangi Island.
Restoration of Tiritiri Matangi Island

These examples are mostly from Canterbury, and cover a range of ecosystems involving community groups, individuals, local authorities and DOC. They provide a check on restoration theory and the methods used should be applicable throughout New Zealand.

Restoration of Tiritiri Matangi Island, in the Hauraki Gulf, is an outstanding success. Substantial native habitat has been restored, enhancing natural recovery. This has created a sanctuary for endangered birds, including saddlebacks/tïeke, bellbirds/korimako, stitchbirds/hihi and takahē. The island is accessible to the people of Auckland, and the project has gained massive community support. Contact: DOC, Auckland Conservancy.

Brian McClure, one of the pioneers of large-scale forest restoration  is standing on the Mangatangi Dam, with 20-year-old, 12-m tall forest beyond.
Brian McClure

Large areas of native forest were planted on bare slopes in the Hunua Range in the 1970s to mask the scars caused by the construction of reservoirs for the Auckland water supply. Brian McClure, one of the pioneers of large-scale forest restoration, is standing on the Mangatangi Dam, with 20-year-old, 12-m tall forest beyond. Contact: Auckland Regional Council.

Mike Greenwood is one of the pioneers of ecological restoration in New Zealand with his major effort at Keebles Bush, Manawatu. With the help of conservation groups, he has controlled weeds such as wandering willie, buffered existing remnants, recreated new forest and propagated locally rare species and planted them back into the habitat. This view of podocarp forest at his home in Palmerston North, is the result of 40 years’ labour.

Mike Greenwood is one of the pioneers of ecological restoration in New Zealand with his major effort at Keebles Bush.
Mike Greenwood









Tapu Te Ranga Marae, Wellington.
Tapu Te Ranga Marae, Wellington

The Tapu Te Ranga Marae, Wellington is the focal point for a major landscape restoration project to attract native birds back into the area, and provide resource materials for local iwi and the wider community. Maggy Wassilieff has been involved in the planning and design of this project. Contact: Tapu Te Ranga Marae, Island Bay, Wellington.

Otukaikino is a partnership project between DOC (statutory landowners and managers), Lamb Hayward (Funeral Directors) and the Ngai Tuahuriri Runanga. The project is restoring a native podocarp swamp forest and wetland, and at the same time providing a living memorial. Willows are being used as a nursery for underplanting the first stages of new forest. Contact: DOC, Canterbury Conservancy.


Excessive removal of weeds can create more problems than it solves. At ōtukaikino, large-scale cutting of willow has resulted in the regeneration of young willow, blackberry and grass, which is hard to manage and interplant. The shade of the original mature willows suppressed willow and other weeds, and acted as a nursery for native planting.

Management of raupo in the open water areas of Ōtukaikino has become an issue since the wetland has been opened up by willow removal. Local iwi may be interested in harvesting surplus raupo for cultural uses – this would also assist in maintaining a mosaic of open wetland communities.

Travis Wetland Nature Heritage Park.
Travis Wetland Nature Heritage Park

Travis Wetland Nature Heritage Park in Christchurch is the largest urban freshwater wetland in the country. The many restoration issues are managed by the Christchurch City Council in partnership with the community-based Travis Wetland Trust. Contact: Christchurch City Council, Parks & Waterways Unit.

Grey willow, a rampant seeder that spreads across ungrazed open wetlands at Travis Swamp, is being eliminated. The more restrained crack willow (which spreads vegetatively, usually only along waterways) can be used as a nursery for future swamp forest species. Its deciduous canopy is an ideal nursery for this light-demanding but competition-shy kahikatea seedling, which was planted by a Forest and Bird group.

Field trials in the Ti Köuka project, near Amberley Beach, North Canterbury.
Field trials in the Ti Kōuka project, near
Amberley Beach, North Canterbury

Field trials in the Ti Kōuka project, near Amberley Beach, North Canterbury. The project aims to mitigate the effect of sand mining in these stony beach ridges, enhance the remaining vegetation remnants and develop new wetlands. The site has been ripped and pre-sprayed with glyphosate. One trial used rabbit fencing to protect early growth of sensitive plants, while another used sleeves to protect plants. Plantings were done in spring and autumn, but only the spring plantings were irrigated – this nullified the usefulness of the irrigation trials. Contact: Lucas Associates, Christchurch.

Waterway enhancement on Corsers Stream, Christchurch.
Waterway enhancement on
Corsers Stream, Christchurch

Existing tall vegetation and microsites, such as this macrocarpa tree on the edge of a wetland, are used in the Ti Kōuka project to establish frost-tender species. Their seed will later disperse into other parts of the site, once the hardy pioneers have formed a canopy and receptive litter beds. Plant protectors and animal repellents provided good protection on these unfenced sites, aided by leaving some areas

Waterway enhancement on Corsers Stream, Christchurch. This was the first such project for the Christchurch City Council 10 years ago. This stream drains from Travis Swamp into the Avon River. Sedges, rushes, trees and shrubs are now regenerating naturally on its banks. It provides an attractive walk, though some property owners miss seeing the water.

Grassy playing area, next to a 1950s native garden at Thorrington School, Christchurch.
This grassy playing area, next to a 1950s ‘native garden’ at Thorrington School, Christchurch
has developed into an extension of the bush garden after 10 years. A fence provides some
security against unwelcome visitors. The native area will provide an educational resource for
generations to come, especially if it is monitored.












Native habitat development at Cannon Hill Park.
Native habitat development
at Cannon Hill Park

This native habitat development at Cannon Hill Park, Christchurch was recognised by a Landcare Research award for sustainable management. Each residential section is covenanted and planted with native trees, shrubs and tussocks according to the different site conditions. Irrigation has allowed rapid establishment, but it has also resulted in rampant grass growth that chokes and hides small plants, making them vulnerable when weeding. Neighbouring sheep have escaped into some blocks, destroying plants and setting back by several years the objective of achieving dense forest cover. It is important not to underestimate the threat from domestic stock, and to allow a budget for maintenance.

At Cannon Hill Park, silver tussock/wï borders a young woodland of native trees. Contact: c/- 2A Cephas Close, Upper Riccarton, Christchurch.

Community volunteers are being shown the correct planting technique.
Community volunteers are being shown
the correct planting technique

Ōtamahua/Quail Island is Christchurch’s island restoration project. Community volunteers are being shown the correct planting technique. This needs repeated reinforcement as there is a risk of trees being poorly planted on large public planting days. Contact: Ōtamahua/Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust, PO Box 127, Lyttelton.

The 1050 ha Hinewai Reserve near the eastern-most extremity of Banks Peninsula is one of the most successful private conservation initiatives in the country. The land was purchased in 1987 by the Maurice White Native Forest Trust, using trust money, public subscription and the Forest Heritage Fund. Hugh Wilson is the manager, and many other workers have been employed by the Trust over the years, together with numerous volunteers. The vision of the project is to restore a major peninsula catchment to near its pristine state. “Minimum interference management” has focused on vigorous control of introduced animals, promoting natural regeneration of podocarp and beech forest through nurseries of native kānuka and exotic gorse. Contact: Hinewai Reserve, RD3 Akaroa.

Medbury, Culverden Basin.
Medbury, Culverden Basin

Medbury, Culverden Basin - one of the few reserves of dry savannah-like woodland in New Zealand. The low trees are kānuka with occasional matagouri, and native grasses include fescue tussock and danthonia. There are also many small mosses and lichens and some rare herbs. Management requires a mix of sheep grazing to control exotic grasses, and retirement of some areas to permit natural succession and allow highly palatable native species to regenerate. Contact: DOC, Canterbury Conservancy.

Kākahu Bush, South Canterbury.
Kākahu Bush, South Canterbury

Kākahu Bush, South Canterbury was purchased by conservation trusts, with the aid of Lottery Board, Community Trust and private funding. This podocarp and secondary forest is being managed by excluding stock, trapping predators, controlling weeds, and looking after historic monuments and geological features. Public walking tracks and interpretation are also provided.

Another South Canterbury icon is Arowhenua Bush, which Fraser Ross and other local Forest and Bird members have worked in for over 20 years. Harsh conditions have meant slow progress. However, with the planting of locally raised seedlings, the use of tree protectors and occasional summer watering, this stand of isolated kahikatea and mataï now has a layer of young canopy hardwoods. Contact: Timaru Branch, Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society.

Otipua wetland restoration,
Otipua wetland restoration

Otipua wetland restoration, Timaru. This project aims to reinstate a former estuarine ecosystem that was destroyed by stopbanking, drainage and reclamation. The work began with major excavation of the land to create some open water and allow tidal water movement. Already, exceptionally high bird counts have been recorded here. Contact: Environment Canterbury, 75 Church St, Timaru.

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