Carnival Park Scenic Reserve
Image: DOC

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


A long-term vision to restore Carnival Park Scenic Reserve in Pahiatua to its previous glory kicks off with a community open day on 16 June.

Date:  13 June 2022

Carnival Park was opened as a botanic garden in 1915 with proceeds from a local carnival.

Explore Pahiatua Incorporated (EPI) member, Karolyn Donald, says the area was originally part of Te Tapere Nui O Whatonga (also known as 40-mile bush), but is now one of the few remnants of the once mighty forest.

“Some of the trees were here before European settlement and survived a devastating fire that ripped through the area in 1898. This makes the reserve unique and culturally significant.”

Karolyn has strong connections to the reserve. She grew up in Pahiatua and was the custodian of the neighbouring campground for 15 years. However, Karolyn says she is just one in a long line of locals who have managed and cared for Carnival Park.

“I’d especially like to acknowledge Stanley Wolland who has been involved with all things Carnival Park since 1975, and Judith Gleeson who first joined a planting at the reserve as a newly graduated teacher in the late 1960s and has been involved ever since. It’s a huge privilege to follow those who have gone before me.”  

Tararua District Council administers the campground, and the Department of Conservation (DOC) administers the reserve.

EPI has set up an agreement with the DOC to enable community restoration of the site. The open day formally celebrates the establishment of this agreement and seeks to get community feedback and involvement in the next steps. 

DOC Community Ranger, Wendy Gray, says she’s excited about helping restore the reserve to its former glory and reintroducing endemic species.

“While native trees are present in the reserve there is a prevalence of exotic species and some 50 odd weed species which make it difficult for natives to establish and survive.

Karolyn says in the past year, some weed and pest management has been undertaken – 75 possums have been trapped since February – but it is only a drop in the bucket.

“Restoring Carnival Park is a huge task and will take a lot of hard work. Full restoration won’t happen in my lifetime, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

“Local schools have long been coming here to do plant and seed identification. If we get more natives thriving, we can show our children what the whole area used to be like.

“Our community members have a great sense of ownership of this treasure. Carnival Park has been a large part of the lives of Pahiatua residents for centuries, and we look forward to securing it for our future generations as well.”

Event details

  • Date: Thursday 16 June 2022
  • Time: From 10am
  • Where: Pahiatua Carnival Park Campground and Scenic Reserve, Glasgow St, Pahiatua
  • Hosted by: Explore Pahiatua Incorporated; supported by DOC Masterton
  • What’s happening: The official welcoming will start at 10.30 am and include a blessing by mana whenua. Guided walks will take place with locals Stan Wolland and Rihari Daymond talking about its history and plant expert Peter Russell identifying native plants and discussing future planting. All welcome!


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