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Friday, December 19, 2014

Proposed car ban on Maungawhau (1)

On 1 December the Maunga Authrority agreed in principle to extend a 2011 ban on buses driving to the summit of Maungawhau to all vehicles.

FoM believes that cars should be banned from the summit for two main reasons: firstly, so that the cultural landscape is preserved; and, secondly, for reasons of safety and enjoyment.
Smash and grab

The existing road was never built for the traffic loads that it now carries. The summit, instead of being a place of quiet to contemplate the superb views out to the twin harbours and beyond, is full of noise and polluting cars.

The congestion creates safety issues. People on foot have to negotiate the summit area as cars move in and reverse out of parking spaces. Without cars the summit will be a much safer place for all to enjoy. The ability to drive up to the summit encourages anti-social and criminal behaviour which deters those who want to enjoy the views and beautiful space that is the maunga.

As said so well by the editor of the Travel section of the NZ Herald on 9 December 2014 (see below), the issue is parks, not car parks.

Maungawhau is one of Auckland's iconic volcanic cones
. They are considered worthy of World Heritage status, but are not treated with the respect they deserve. Other places of historical and cultural importance do not have car parks plonked on top. Why should Maungawhau?

A final decision on the proposed car ban will be taken at the April 2015 meeting of the Maunga Authority. Access for those with restricted mobility will be part of the decision and implementation process.

We invite you to read the following letters and opinion pieces from the media and FoM members

NZ Herald editorial: Ending vehicle access plus for volcano visits, 4 December 2014
Brian Rudman: Leave the car and listen to the tui
12 December 2014

Central Leader, 10 December 2014
NZ Herald, 4.12.14

NZ Herald, 5.12.14

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Wish Tree

We had lots of fun setting up the Wish Tree and manning it for the Love Your Mountain Day.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Love Your Mountain Day this Sunday

It's nearly time for the big day and the big maunga hug! Our wonderful volunteers are in place, the sun has promised to make an appearance, and there is awareness in the media of one of the core values of the event: a traffic-free mountain. Come and enjoy the day!

Jacob talking to Kit at the summit

Monday, November 24, 2014

Love Your Mountain Day - Sunday, 7 December

Christmas can wait - it's two weeks until Love Your Mountain Day! The programme has been finalised, this week flyers are hitting letterboxes around Mt Eden, and the event listing will appear along with the image of people around the crater rim in the upcoming OurAuckland mini magazine.

I'd like to highlight three particular activities on the day:
  • a landscape drawing workshop led by Paul Johnston, chair of Eden Arts (for which prior registration is required - see programme)
  • a display and discussion forum hosted by Bernadette Papa, Director of the Auckland Weavers Network, on the importance of conserving native species for customary Māori weaving arts
  • a mau rākau demonstration at Government House grounds by Malcolm Kerehoma.

See you there!

Monday, October 13, 2014

The word is out!

It's taken three years of work, two total redrafts, and many hours of debate and discussion among the "booklet team", but at last our book is printed and ready to face the reading public.

As you might guess from the title, Maungawhau: A Short History of Volunteer Action is a record of our history, campaigns and restoration work on Maungawhau. It also explores the many difficult issues involved in preserving and caring for volcanic cones, and argues for the legitimacy of our attempts to restore scoria-cone forest on land classed as an archaeological site.

The "booklet", as we've always called it, has grown into an absorbing and well produced 116-page illustrated book with maps, sketches and historical photos.

Preparation and production was funded by the ASB Community Trust. We thank the Trust for their patience and support.

Chapter 1 outlines the mountain's history and the founding of the Friends of Maungawhau in the 1980s. It discusses the dual reserve classification, Auckland Council's conflicting policies and plans, and FoM's role in the removal of buses from the summit and the cessation of grazing.

Chapter 2 describes the geology and ecology of Maungawhau, its vegetation history, weed problems, and the value of the mountain from the human perspective -- cultural landscape, open space, and viewing platform for visitors.

Chapter 3 takes a look at our practical volunteer work on the ground. It describes our revegetation efforts and the weeding and planting techniques we have developed for a uniquely steep, drought-prone, and unstable site. Five examples of Jean's weekly Tuesday reports (270 produced to date) make fascinating reading.

Chapter 4 discusses our education and advocacy roles as champions for better management and appreciation of volcanic landscapes. It argues that a professional, well-resourced ranger service for the cones is the only way that sustainable day-to-day management can ever be achieved.

Chapter 5 presents the challenges that we face as a volunteer group caring for the Maunga. It ends with the hope of greater inclusiveness and recognition of the knowledge held by the volunteer community with the advent of the new Council/iwi co-governance structure for the volcanic cones (a.k.a the Maunga Authority).

The five appendices include a statutory framework diagram and comprehensive plant species lists: a list of FoM's recommended native plants and a list of the main environmental weeds that have naturalised on Maungawhau.

The final pages include a bibliography, walking map and our vision statement.

The book is dedicated to renowned archaeologist Dr Sue Bulmer who has been a leading light in FoM and a feisty critic of past management policies and abuse of the Maunga.

So, if you've read this far and want to get your hands on a copy, come to our book launch or order a copy from us: The cost is $20 plus P&P ($3 within NZ).

Monday, August 25, 2014

Geological Tour of Maungawhau on Sunday 28 September

As part of the Auckland Heritage Festival 2014, on Sunday 28 September geologist and FoM volunteer Bernhard Sporli will lead a walking tour around and over Maungawhau, looking at its shape, lavas, scoria and volcanic bombs.

This will be a half-day walking tour starting at Eden Garden at 9am and looking at the volcanic features there, then
proceeding around the base of the mountain to its summit before returning to Eden Garden at about 2pm.
Participants will have the opportunity to take in an array of volcanic rocks and landforms while looking at the setting of Maungawhau within the regional geology of Auckland (if the views from the summit permit). We will also discuss general aspects of volcanic risk in Auckland.
Eden Garden has a lovely café, and has generously offered free admission to participants. 
The maximum number for the walking tour is 30, so you do need to book with Bernhard: <bandh.sporli[]>
Another geology walking tour of Maungawhau, led by Dr Bruce Hayward, is planned for Love Your Mountain Day on Sunday 7 December. See our Events page for details nearer the time.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Super Moon on Maungawhau

In case you missed the photo in the NZ Herald of the super moon and our super maunga, here it is, and if you go to this link you will see it at the top of a page that features photos of the super moon taken from different locations around the world.  This photo is by Simon Runting/Rex.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The missing ranger on Maungawhau

World Ranger Day is observed on 31 July, the anniversary of the founding of the International Rangers Federation in 1992. It is a time to celebrate the dedication of park rangers around the world who protect parkland and animals, and to remember the approximately 1,000 rangers who have been killed or injured in the line of duty in the last ten years. 

The Friends of Maungawhau celebrate World Ranger Day with a traditional boiling of the billy - actually a Thermette, or Benghazi Boiler - and morning tea with our volunteers and invited guests.

We were joined by Peter Haynes, chair of the Albert-Eden Local Board, and Glenda Fryer, deputy chair and one of the six Auckland Council representatives on the new Maunga Authority, due to have its first meeting in September.
Smoky billy tea and fruit cake accompanied discussion of current issues. Peter gave a brief summary of matters relevant to FoM, and was pleased to announce that the Board's funding has been increased by some $1.5 million.

World Ranger Day has special significance for FoM: for two decades now we have campaigned for a ranger service on Auckland's volcanic cones as the only practicable way of preserving a potential World Heritage site and coordinating conservation efforts. The need for a ranger on Maungawhau was stated in the first management plan (1986). Successive councils have made promises, but the vision of a ranger on the maunga seems as distant as ever.

This year we're taking a new approach to the "missing ranger" issue with the aid of a PR mascot. Our WRD celebration was his first official outing.

It all stemmed from a casual remark by our volunteer coordinator Jean Barton that we might as well dress up a dummy and stand it there while we work. By chance shortly after, Jean and Keith discovered a battered but still handsome mannequin in a junk shop, and immediately deployed him for FoM's PR team.

The missing ranger is as yet un-named and short of a boot, but should brush up nicely for Love Your Mountain Day on Sunday 7 December. He may even be presented to Mayor Len Brown who has confirmed his attendance.

Kit didn't get to speak formally about World Ranger Day it's hard to get a word in when there are politicians about but the Duke of Cambridge was kind enough to stand in for him. He did a creditable job, without matching Kit's passion for the subject, as did Dame Jane Goodall. You can listen to their messages on the International Rangers Federation website.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Press release from the Friends of Maungawhau

This week will see an historic occasion with the passing of the Maunga Bill  [ Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau Collective Redress Bill ]. It also comes in the year of the World Parks Congress which is examining the state of the world’s protected areas or parks.
This legislation establishes the Maunga Authority to govern selected volcanic cones and landscape of Auckland. It also partly addresses long held grievances of the Iwi of Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland. The Friends of Maungawhau have supported the legislation which has the added advantage for improved governance and management of these parks of world heritage status. The volcanic cones have been neglected and run down for many decades and it is hoped this is a start of a new way of caring for our heritage parks such as Maungawhau. As Paul Majurey,  [the chair of the Tamaki Collective and an Iwi representative on the new Authority] said at the select committee hearings – “it will not be business as usual”

It is good to celebrate the new governance, however a “watchful eye” is needed for there will be many challenges. These include dealing with the pressure of use; delayed maintenance, pests and weeds and different management philosophies - all of which will rest on rate payers. In some ways the Crown has passed the financial buck onto Aucklanders.
The success of the new Maunga Authority will rest on the funding it gets without robbing other parks like the successful regional parks of Auckland. The Friends of Maungawhau will be advocating for consultation and adequate  funding for all these conservation parks in the 10 year financial  plan of Auckland.

Friends of Maungawhau 10 main advocacy positions.
[ S = potential savings in operational costs/ income generation]

1        Remove motorised vehicles from the summits of maunga and provide appropriate access for disabled and elderly visitors and park operations.  S

2        Require all commercial tourism and other for-private profit operators to pay a concession fee. S

3        Develop a co-management model founded on professional park rangers supported by contractors and an engaged community of volunteers.

4        Encourage volunteer groups on all the maunga  S

5        Survey boundaries and develop programmes on all maunga to help stop visual intrusion from development and “bio-trespass” [from weeds and pests]
E.g. Recently I enquired about a private development on Clive Rd that was suspected of encroaching on Maungawhau – a public reserve under control of the Council. The planning officer could not confirm that a boundary survey was a resource consent requirement and told me “to survey the boundary ourselves if we were that concerned”. Old attitudes and lack of importance towards conservation reserves still dominates the Council so we welcome the new approach and new governance of the maunga.

6        Develop an integrated management approach of all park land adjoining the maunga and all assets of the maunga. E.g. At present they are divided between the Maunga Authority, Local Board and Auckland Council etc.  S
7       Make operational plans more accessible and establish a mechanism like the former Maungawhau Stakeholders Group to enable designated volunteer organisations to be informed and consulted by  the Maunga Authority on policies and plans.

8      Require Watercare to take greater responsibility for the vegetation management on all maunga. S  E.g. See the situation of the restored reservoir on Maungawhau

9       Ensure the funding of the maunga and Maunga Authority do not take funds away from the Regional Parks and other conservation and informal parks. E.g. See AGM report from Friends of Maungawhau and  Mike Lee’s presentation at the Friends of Regional Parks AGM.

10     Examine the inefficiencies and mistakes in projects and operations so they are not repeated and ensure better use is made of public funds.  E.g. the past  Microlaena / kikuyu project, returfing of archaeological sites, track work, the electric shuttles  and the ban on planting even though funding allocated for conservation planting.  S

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Love Your Mountain Day planning underway

Kit, Audrey and April at the meeting with Paul

Planning for Love Your Mountain Day, Sunday 7 December 2014, has been progressing.  The use of the grounds at Government House for the day has been secured.  Audrey, April and Kit have met with Paul Majurey, Chair of the Tāmaki Makaurau Collective, and received strong support for the event.  Audrey and April will soon be meeting with the manager of Eden Garden to discuss the Garden's involvement.  Ideas for the various activities that have been proposed are being developed.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

AGM on Tuesday 8 July

Ngārimu Blair, Ngāti Whātua kaitiaki of Maungawhau and a founding member of FoM, will be the guest speaker at our AGM.

Time: 7:30pm on Tuesday 8 July
Venue: Mt Eden Village Centre - Lounge
(access from Ngauruhoe Street)

This will be a great opportunity to learn about the changes coming up when the Maunga Bill passes into law on 24 July. The legislation transfers ownership of 14 Auckland maunga to iwi that have ancestral connections to the maunga and establishes a co-management structure involving Auckland Council and the Tāmaki Collective.

Everyone is welcome to attend.
Please contact FoM chair Kit Howden (kithowden[at] for more information.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Successful planting day at Auckland Grammar School

The AGS planting day on Sunday went very well, beautifully organised by Mary Stewart and Roseline Klein, and supported by teacher Max Thomson and his brother Alistair. Steve Flynn (Habitat Restoration) who did the spraying, attended as a volunteer, bringing his trailer to ferry the plants to the site. Over 30 people came, most of them students, and did great work under Mary's guidance, with her colleagues Michael Ngatai and Rowena Gilchrist in support, all unpaid.
FOM was represented by Jean, Keith, Alistair and April, and FoM's general support was acknowledged. Jeremy and Dorothy came but we sent them home as there were plenty of volunteers already. Typically, they didn't go straight home but stopped off to get some madeira vine across the road.

Work went really well with all 500 plants in the ground by 11:30am, after which everybody was happy to wait for the pizzas to be delivered. The occasional shower was appreciated by the plants, if not the people. Plants are: coprosma, kanuka, flax and mahoe.The AGS website also has a report and more photos.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Community planting day at Auckland Grammar School, Sunday 22 June

The first community planting day at Auckland Grammar School (Section 1 on the map below) is the result of a unique collaboration between the Friends of Maungawhau, Auckland Council and Roseline Klein who first approached the school about their weed-infested grounds in March 2013.
By persistence and negotiation, Roseline managed to set up a weed removal programme and secured funding for native plants, with the help of Biosecurity officers in the council. In advance of the planting, several FoM volunteers (particularly Jean, Keith, Oliver and Alastair) have collected binloads of rubbish and bottles over a period of weeks. Jean remarks:
Not a pleasant job, but fascinating to see the amount of accumulated stuff, some of it positively historic, like ancient bottles - huge brown beer bottles, incredibly thick and heavy ones like Fanta and L&P bottles, flagons, green Barossa Pearl ones, and old rectangular ink bottles. Can't blame the current students as these things were out of production decades before they were born!

Guest blog by Roseline Klein

Over a year ago now, my friends Jen and Carl had a brilliant idea when giving birth to the lovely Abby. They asked their friends to celebrate Abby's birth by doing something positive for their community or for themselves instead of giving a material present. I thought about what I could do and realised that on my way to work, I was going past an area covered in weeds on Auckland Grammar School grounds, between Clive Road and the school's hockey turf and lower rugby field. This is very detrimental for the amazing Mt Eden just next to it, where volunteers from Friends of Maungawhau and great people from Auckland Council spend significant time maintaining the mountain and its native bush. But then as a school, AGS doesn't have the expertise to know how to best deal with the issue and understandably has other priorities. The community needed to help to make change happen. 


Section 1 – Pampas and moth plant seedlings.
17 May 2013

A year down the track, a joined weeding and planting project has been created between AGS, Friends of Maungawhau, Auckland Council and myself. Thanks to funding by Auckland Council (EIF) and Auckland Grammar School, weeding has been done on site in the past 8 months. Thanks to time and effort by Friends of Maungawhau, the cans and bottles thrown over time by people on the area have started to be collected.

The area is now ready to be planted with native bush, aiming at increased biodiversity, reduced weed issues and improved aesthetics for the enjoyment of all. How exciting! I would love for you to be part of it!

Our first significant milestone is the planting day on Sunday 22 June, 10am to 4pm.

500 shrubs will be planted on Section 1. The school's Environmental Committee and Communications team are advertising the day to parents. To make this day a success, there will need to be a lot of us. All help is welcome, yours especially!

If you feel like contributing to our beautiful Auckland and are free that day, please come along! It should be a fun day. If you know of anyone who would be interested, don't hesitate to share the invite.

I will send you more information closer to the date. For now, just rsvp if you'd like to join!

Many thanks,
Roseline Klein
027 512 4504

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Morris dancing on the Maunga

Happy May Day! Morris dancers gathered on the summit of Maungawhau at dawn today, and performed energetic jigs and stick dances to the accompaniment of an accordion, squeeze box, fiddle, drums, guitar and Irish wooden flute.

Those wearing the felt admiral hats are from the City of Auckland Morris Dancers. The chaps in the top hats drove up overnight from Wellington, and a man crowned with fruit and flowers had come from Brisbane.

There weren't as many spectators as in past years, we're told, but the Friends of Maungawhau contingent included many of our core weeding group plus Audrey, organiser of this year's Love Your Mountain Day who'd biked up from the CBD.

A beautiful morning, with the Southern Cross fading low in the western sky and the sun rising above the trig station.

More photos here: Picasa album

Chrsitine Major: Morris dancer, botanist, and regular volunteer
with the Friends of Maungawhau weeding group.

FoM chair Kit Howden and wife Meg McMillan
with Morris dancers Andy Smith and Christine Major

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Wheelchair push up the maunga

Audrey and April did a trial wheelchair climb up the maunga this morning, setting off before daybreak. It took 45 minutes going up and 15 going down. But we weren't quite first to the summit. A car overtook us in the summit carpark, at 6:50am. So the gate must have been opened early.

Audrey is organising Love Your Mountain Day, 7 December 2014, the only day of the year when the summit road is free of traffic. It's her idea to invite wheelchair users to enjoy leisurely access on the day. The idea is part of a bigger plan for a communal walk and celebration at the summit.

 We'll post more about plans for Love Your Mountain Day at a later date!

The trial ride up the maunga was surprisingly doable. There are enough flattish sections along the road to ease the effort. We were nearing the top before the sky lightened and the first runner appeared. The descent was tricky, due to the steep sides on the speed bumps and the slippery road surface after overnight rain.

The exhilaration of being on the summit at daybreak was blighted by some distasteful graffiti. Compared with just five years ago, vandalism on the maunga seems relatively rare these days. So it was sickening to see such disrespectful and juvenile scribblings.

Aroha ki te maunga!