Purewa Restoration Group (PRG) have adopted and are in the process of restoring Selwyn Bush- education department land behind Selwyn College in Kohimarama, Auckland. Selwyn Bush is part of the Purewa Valley, which adjoins the Eastern rail corridor and is contiguous with Kepa bush reserve and very close to St Johns bush. The regeneration work is split into two distinct parts: that being undertaken in Selwyn Bush by PRG and that of the REAF centre being undertaken in another part of the valley (more information on this in the partnerships section, below). The valley itself is a mix of both native vegetation and weeds. The sides of the valley are predominantly natives, with a stream running through the valley floor. The stream provides a vector for weeds and the majority of the weeds occur along its path, although many patches of the natives are also being encroached by weeds. The valley on the whole has been neglected over the years and is suffering from various weed infestations (moth vine, woolly nightshade, gorse, hawthorn, ginger, asparagus fern) and has been used as a dumping ground for litter.
PRG was started by Roy Clements and Martin Heffer in 2003 and over the years have had a handful of dedicated volunteers. At present, Pat Northey (since 2007) and Robyn Sinclair (since 2009) make up the other members of this group.
Our vision is to control the valley's weeds, especially where native vegetation is being smothered, to replant areas where weeds have been removed and to further define the existing walking track for public use.
We have already completed three areas of the new planting, the most prominent of which is on the bank behind the ASB stadium. As you can see in the before picture, the bank was previously infested with various weed species, but has been replanted with natives such as flax and manuka (Note: Supporting material is supplied as a separate document). We have mapped the valley and included on the maps prioritised areas where weed infestations are threatening natives. We am to systematically treat these areas in the coming months.
There is an existing, if overgrown, walking track from the ASB stadium down the valley where it intersects with the walking path joining Kepa Road bush reserve with St Johns bush. We would like to further develop and define this and other walking tracks that are already present in the valley for the enjoyment of bush walkers, dog owners and nature enthusiasts. The first stage of the walking track, which runs through our newly planted area is currently under development and the existing track mapped as part of our future planning.
We see two barriers to our vision at present. The first is that we are a small group. We have 4 committed members, plus an excellent working relationship with the REAF refugee centre, who have been instrumental in the formation of the tracks. In Autumn 2010, we have started a recruitment drive and are advertising in the local community newspaper and within the local community for more help. Our second barrier is the cost of native seedlings to replace the weeds we are removing from the site. Although neither of these barriers are insurmountable, they will lengthen the project time.
As mentioned above, we already have an excellent relationship with the refugee centre through our member, Roy Clements. The REAF (Refugee centre for Adults and Families) centre provides a support network for refugee families of Selwyn College students (see New Zealand Herald article in the supporting material). REAF have already completed a Peace Garden regeneration project behind the main soccer fields of the school as part of the larger restoration project.
PRG has thus far been supported financially by the ASB Stadium, Selwyn College and a private donor, and in kind by Auckland Regional Council (ARC). We were finalists in the Auckland Sustainable Communities Awards (2009/10), and are discussing potential synergies with another community group controlling mammalian pests in Kepa Road bush reserve.