"Weedbusting has been carried out at the Manuka Reserve for the five years of its existence. This reserve has been created on 1.5 hectares of land in Lansdowne Masterton. Over 15,000 plants are growing where just 5 years ago cattle grazed. The trees are doing well, but this wouldn’t have happened without a lot of work to keep the pasture grasses under control!
School children and Guides and Brownies were involved in a number of planting days in the first few years, and then have returned to help with weed control. Many loads of bark have been carted to put around the trees and hebes that the children planted. We used many fertiliser bags cut up and placed around the plants, with the mulch on top. These worked well in giving some extra time before the grass took over. Having the children return to care for the plants they had planted was a great exercise for them, as it was teaching them how important ongoing care was for the plants. Two senior school students from St Matthew’s College, working towards the Young New Zealanders Challanege have adopted a corner, and are constantly working with bark, weedeaters, and hedge clippers to keep their area, free of weeds.
We have had some wonderful working days with children from Totara Drive School, Guides, Hadlow School, Kura Kaupapa children, Rathkeale College, and weekend and Wednesday morning working bees with volunteers.
Throughout all our work we had wonderful support from our Greater Wellington team in Wellington. Jo Fagan and Nigel Clarke were always available with advice and Jo and others from Wellington would turn up on working days with spades, buckets, and everything else we needed, and work alongside the students.
One memorable highlight was the Kura Kaupapa children singing out on the hillside, with the tuis providing background music! Other highlights have been the resident pukekos and ducks hatching their young on the pond, and the occasional find of a gecko.
Alongside the work of school children and volunteers, a few dedicated individuals, Eddie Bannister, Maggie Feringa, Liz and John Waddington, and a number of the neighbours have worked hard to keep the weeds under control. Hedge clippers are the weapon of choice and many hours are spent each spring keeping the grass under control. Gorse needs to be constantly knocked back, and the odd broom has appeared. We are now at the stage of an annual cutback of the spring grass attack, and we are keeping our eyes open for invasions of other weeds. So far, apart from a small patch of wandering willy, we have been lucky. But it is an ongoing task, and with the trees slowly taking over the pasture grass and creating their own leaf mulch, we are aware that the birds will probably bring unwanted plants into the area.
We have an “adopt a corner” programme, and to date we have approximately 10 people, or groups of people looking after small manageable areas.
There has been the occasional weed problem with locals dumping their old garden plants in the Reserve. A letter box drop of the Greater Wellington leaflet on unwanted plants has been useful in educating people as to the potential problem with garden escapes.
The area is overseen by Liz and John Waddington. Their vision is to see the nursery plants forming a canopy and suppressing the grass, thus creating a small piece of native bush right in the middle of an urban area. Paths have been created and there is a constant stream of people walking, running and pushing children through, and enjoying the work that has been done. Liz and John got involved with this project when they moved to the area 5 years ago, and the neighbours told them that this particular piece of land was promised by the Council to be a reserve. An application to Greater Wellington saw the project having the benefit of “Take Care” funds, which has enabled this area to become what it is today. Even after such a short time the return of the birds has been fantastic."