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Restoring degraded gullies in Hamilton

The Hamilton Ecological District is one of the most modified districts in New Zealand with only 1.6% of indigenous vegetation remaining.

The main natural areas remaining in Hamilton City and the surrounding landscape are in an extensive network of distinctive gullies. Private landowners are contributing to efforts to restore these degraded and weed infested ecosystems.

At Matangi, east of Hamilton, Peter and Margaret Morris have been restoring a gully adjoining the Mangaharakeke Stream for 25 years using only locally sourced native species.

In 2006, they protected 2ha of the gully with a QEII covenant.

‘It was a wilderness of weeds, covered with willow, blackberry, gorse and honeysuckle,’ says Peter. ‘The only way to clear it was to do small areas at a time and plant it bit by bit.’

Morris Family gully blackberry. Photo: Peter Morris

Above: Walls of blackberry up to three metres high covered the Morris family gully. Photo: Peter Morris

With experimentation Peter found the best way to clear the dense three metre high blackberry was by spraying with Roundup®.

‘To identify what species to plant, we visited local bush remnants with Peter de Lange, a botanist,’ he says. ‘Most species weren’t available commercially so we collected seeds and started our own nursery.’

Pioneer species such as manuka, wineberry, mahoe and flax were planted and then successional trees including totara, kahikatea, swamp maire and matai.

‘It’s important to plant species that replicate,’ Peter explains.

‘The restored area is now self-managing with seedlings coming up everywhere.’

Morris Family gully planting pioneer species. Photo: Peter Morris

Above: Planting pioneer species. Photo: Peter Morris

Morris Family gully in 1986. Photo: Peter Morris

Above: Peter Morris says gully restoration from weeds to native bush is rapid, provided intensive weed control is done at the start and eco-sourced species are densely planted in the right sites. Photo: Peter Morris

Morris Family gully in 1991. Photo: Peter Morris
Above: The gully in 1991. Photo: Peter Morris

Morris Family gully in 1996. Photo: Peter Morris

Above: Native birds are now eating seeds from native species such as coprosma, kahikatea, putaputaweta and Astelia grandis in the gully rather than from blackberry, inkweed, honeysuckle and Arum lily. Photo: Peter Morris

More information on the Morris family gully restoration

Peter is very willing to pass on advice and knowledge to others who are restoring gullies. Many visit his property to learn about weed removal and what to plant.

For more about the gully restoration and plants available from the nursery, download Morris Family Gully Restoration (PDF, 77KB) or phone Peter on 07 829 5763.

Mangaone Stream gully

For nearly 35 years, Reg and Lauretta Barker have been revegetating a steep gully on the outskirts of Hamilton along the Mangaone Stream by planting one hundred kauri and other native trees including kowhai, rimu, miro, kahikatea and totara.

With stock now excluded from the gully and weeds including convolvulus controlled, many trees are now regenerating naturally.

The Barkers protected 0.4ha of the gully with a QEII covenant in September 2007.

‘I hated the thought of someone chopping the trees down and wanted it kept for posterity,’ says Reg.

The Barkers' gully before restoration. Photo supplied by Reg Barker

Above: Before the revegetation, only one native tree remained in the gully; the kahikatea to the right. All the pine trees have since been chopped down by Reg. Photo supplied by Reg Barker.

Reg Barker in the kauri grove. Photo: Rex Webby

Right: Reg Barker in the kauri grove now protected in perpetuity by an open space covenant. Photo: Rex Webby










The Barkers' kauri grove. Photo: Rex Webby

Above: Kauri in Reg and Lauretta Barker’s covenant are reaching 15 metres in height. Photo: Rex Webby

Open SpaceTM Magazine No. 73, July 2008 © QEII National Trust


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