Brief History of
the Trelissick Park Group
WCC (Wellington City Council), GW (Greater Wellington
Regional Council), DOC (Department of Conservation), TPG
Park Group), NPA (Ngaio Progressive Association), HPPA
Progressive Association), F & B (Royal Forest and Bird Protection
Society), BotSoc (Wellington Botanical Society), WRA (Wadestown
Residents' Association), OWB (Otari-Wilton's Bush Trust), OHS (Onslow
Historical Society, MfE (Ministry for the Environment), QE II Trust
(Queen Elizabeth II National Trust).
the streams are numbered 1 - 7 going downstream from
the Waikowhai Street entrance. 'Magazine' refers to the Kaiwharawhara
The Kaiwharawhara Stream valley (and tributary
Korimako Stream) suffers from a legacy
of interferences over
nearly180 years - early logging and farming, road, rail and sewer
developments, slips, weed escapes, rubbish from adjacent areas and
pollution from the huge catchment area. Fast stormwater run-off from
hard surfaces in the catchment turns the streams into destructive
Weed species of all types flourished, carpeting forest floors
and smothering re-growth. Possums, rats, stoats, hedgehogs and mice
badly affected the ecology. Waterfalls in the stream at culvert outlets
blocked the migration of native fish. Flooding, pollution and
sedimentation affected fish and invertebrate life.
Much of the restoration work described below has attempted to mitigate
these effects and to restore the park to a native bush wilderness.
The Trelissick Park Group
(TPG) and the community are grateful for the funding, donations and
plants from many sources, assistance from WCC/GW and for the
hard-working volunteers, organisations, corporate and school groups who
carried out the work.
The TPG has participated in various workshops, displays, guided tours
the park, presentations to various groups, assisted with academic
studies and published articles.
TPG has been actively involved in the
lower Kaiwharawhara stream and estuary area, as it is part of the
ecological corridor. Further details of that involvement are in the
'Current Issues' page of this website.
Up to the end of 2020, just over 92,000 plants have been put into the ground. Bird
numbers and species have increased markedly and there have been no
possums for more than a decade.
More details are in:
- The two OHS volumes 'Onslow Historian - The
History of the Trelissick Park Group 1991-2013' available from 98
Khandallah Rd - open on Sunday afternoons.
- The Gorge Gazette and
Minutes of Meetings sections of this website.
Early Restoration -
There was some restoration work by a local resident from 1941. WRA was
heavily involved from the 1960-1980s, advocating for removal of gravel
heaps from the main valley and mustering opposition to the proposal to
the valley as a landfill.
A plan was developed by WRA to clear the old
tracks and plant nectar-bearing trees to attract birds. Trees were
planted on the main track between Hanover Street and Trelissick
Crescent. There were many work parties. Attacks were made on
blackberry, sycamore and old man’s beard. An area of railway land below
Wadestown was leased to WCC.
1991 - 1994
The gravel heaps galvanised NPA into action and the Trelissick Park Group was formed in
1991 with the initial name being the "Trelissick Park/Ngaio Gorge
After the gravel heaps were spread, the first planting was in the
Kaiwharawhara valley. A draft development plan was prepared. WCC
assisted with implementation, including weed control and maintenance.
TPG sought definition of Park boundaries. Funding was discussed.
Concerns to be addressed included moving the debris trap, smells, water
quality (leachate, mud), silt/gravel in the stream from erosion and
subdivisions, bulldozing in the stream bed, industrial pollution beyond
the park, old sewer pipes, possums and lack of liaison within WCC.
A Vegetation Plan was prepared, with lists of suitable plant species.
WCC and F & B nurseries supplied the plants. An adopt-a-spot scheme
WCC strengthened the Kaiwharawhara stream banks with
rocks and rock gabions, removed old sewer pipes and improved tracks.
WCC commissioned a Stream Management Plan. Wightwick's Field in the
Korimako Stream valley was gifted
in a hand-over ceremony in August 1993. The old industrial area
adjoining the lower end of the Kaiwharawhara valley was purchased by
WCC in 1994. The associated magazine and stone wall became Category II
Historic Places under the Historic Places Act.
Reclamation Working Group was set up by TPG and HPPA to deal with
issues at the lower end of the Kaiwharawhara Stream and estuary.
made submissions on developments in the catchment affecting the Park,
eg from fast stormwater run-off, sedimenation and pollution (continued
over subsequent decades).
The first Gorge Gazette was distributed
around the community in 1994. To recruit more volunteers, there were
meetings with the local community, letter drops and newspaper
1995 - 1999
Tools were purchased and WCC provided a scrub-cutter.. Regular working
bees were held. WCC removed pine trees from the park next to Hewett Way
in Ngaio. WCC deployed bait stations in response to a TPG request for
control of rats and possums. GW serviced the bait stations. Funding was
obtained for dealing with sycamores on the covenanted land below
The Trelissick Park Management Plan was issued by WCC in 1995. A
Trelissick Park Five-Year plan was prepared by TPG (updated
periodically since then).
In 1995 work started on removal of the
industrial buildings at the newly purchased site in the lower
Under pressure from TPG, HPPA and others, WCC
rescinded a decision to sell conservation land down to the stream
containing a WCC-owned house at 112 Oban Street. They finally decided
in 1996 to sell only the part with the house adjoining Oban Street,
saving the lower section for the park. A narrow strip between 112 and
114 Oban Street was retained as a legal right of way for access to the
park in 1999.
WCC purchased private land below Waikowhai Street for the
Northern Walkway entrance. The gorge was cleared of more old sewer
pipes by helicopter.
2000 – 2004
Work was just starting on restoration of the magazine in 2000. However,
in December, a Chubb security van was robbed of nearly $1 million in
the city and set alight inside the magazine, destroying the roofing.
Work was then changed to preserving the historic buildings as a ruin.
The park became a Key Native Ecosystem, so had priority for restoration
work by GW. 'Project Kaiwharawhara' was born in 2002. This stimulated
much riparian restoration work within the catchment by GW/WCC, right
down to the harbour. Four blackberry slopes in the park were sprayed in
2002 by helicopter, with a repeat in 2003. WCC/TPG then planted these
areas, some aided by helicopter transport. Fire damaged gorse and some
plantings below Trelissick Crescent. TPG received GW 'Take Care'
funding for re-vegetation in the catchment, including the park.
A fenced legal right of way was obtained by WCC for the Northern
Walkway to go along the riparian strip north of Wightwick’s Field. A
new bridge was built to link this with the track from Waikowhai Street.
This allowed the Northern Walkway to go directly down to Wightwick's
Field from Waikowhai Street.
The debris trap was upgraded in 2002. WCC
removed old sewage pipes, some by helicopter.
of Ngaio Gorge Road commenced.
Five private properties below Hanover
Street were registered as covenanted to the QE II Trust in 2002 -
thought to be a first for an urban area (the first registration
occurred in 1999).
A TPG website was started.
In 2004, WCC upgraded the whole magazine area down to the entrance from
Kaiwharawhara Road. The concrete slab for the old plastics factory next
to the magazine was removed.
2005 – 2009
In early 2005, a nocturnal
fish walk up the Kaiwharawhara Stream revealed a range of native fish,
signifying reasonable stream health. In 2006 fish passages were
constructed at the exits of the tunnels under the railway line and
Churchill Drive. WCC removed more old sewer pipes from the stream.
Under the MfE Sustainable Management Fund, a part-time coordinator
recruited and nurtured more adopt-a-spot volunteers. This raised the
profile of the park and the adopt-a-spot scheme through publicity and
increased the spots to 30. Health and Safety information and guidelines
were prepared for volunteers working in the park.
The new Korimako valley track was completed early in 2005 and the four
new bridges in 2006. Usage of the park increased markedly and cyclists
became more of a problem. In 2007/8, easements were obtained and the
'Forest Remnant Track' was upgraded to tramping track standard. A
“Reveg. Track' was installed below Hanover Street. The park map was
updated to show track names and bridge numbers.
Seats, map and information boards at entrances, an interpretative board
next to the magazine, brochure holders and a new table and benches for
Wightwick’s Field were installed.
In conjunction with the new track
down the Korimako valley, two sites in the Korimako valley on railway
land were leased to WCC in 2006. These were flat riparian areas clothed
in blackberry. The joint OWB/TPG GW Take Care fund was used for the
restoration. The blackberry was cut, sprayed, then planted in 2007.
In 2007, TPG's name was simplified to “Trelissick
Park Group” from
“Trelissick Park/Ngaio Gorge Working Group”. A logo for TPG was
organised. The Gorge Gazette was re-started. Brochures were produced
for park entrance brochure holders.
Late in 2008, DOC instigated a
Community Conservation Fund, which allowed blackberry spraying and
plants to go in on a riparian strip on railway land downstream of
In 2008 TPG took over servicing of bait stations and mustelid
traps, in conjunction with GW.
The railway lines in the tunnels had to
be lowered to fit the new carriages. Access was required via the slope
opposite the magazine for heavy machinery, with a temporary bridge
across the Kaiwharawhara Stream. Riparian plantings on both sides of
the stream and on the slope above had to be sacrificed. Ballast was
stored on the flat area next to the magazine. On completion of the
railway work, Ontrack had an 'Open Day' early in 2009 to walk the line.
Ontrack provided two picnic tables, next to the magazine made from
2010 - 2019.
In 2010 the park became 'off-leash' for dogs, but with the
requirement for dogs to be under owners' control at all times. A huge
slip above the Kaiwharawhara Stream tunnel under the railway line in
2010 blocked the Korimako Stream flow, for a while.
In 2011 the website content and layout was improved/augmented and TPG
started a Facebook page in 2012.
Sadly the park lost many flax, afflicted by yellow leaf disease. The
tradescantia leaf beetle trial was unsuccessful. Another large slip
from the railway line in Wadestown in 2012 cut the Northern Walkway,
damaged the seat and went right down to the valley floor.
2013 was a year of extreme weather. A severe summer drought fortunately
had little effect on the plantings. Very heavy rain in May was
sufficient to attract a kayaker for adventure in the streams. Bad
southerly wind storm in June caused some tree falls and much debris.
Rip-rap rock was placed in the gulch below Hanover Street to mitigate
stormwater erosion. A garage was removed from upper Ngaio Gorge Road.
Gabions were installed at Bridges 4 and 5 to protect foundations from
erosion. A seat at the grassy spot on railway land between Bridges 4
and 5 was installed, funded jointly by local community members.
TransPower strengthened their pylon foundation. Signage was upgraded,
to include the new Te Araroa Walkway and the Sanctuary to the Sea
Walkway. The historic walls bordering the vehicle access track from the
lower Ngiao Gorge Road entrance were restored.
Surveys of residents by the community in 2010 and 2016 showed majority
support for a track down into the park from Oban Street. The idea of
such a track was raised as early as 1981 by WRA in their submission on
WCC's Draft Trelissick Park Management Plan and a possible route was
developed. It was later listed as an access policy in the WCC
Trelissick Park Management Plan of 1995. TPG advocated at various times
thereafter for this track and benched an access track for animal pest
control. Investigations by WCC concluded that alternative access
locations from Wadestown/Highland Park were not feasible.
at the debris trap was improved in 2013 when Capacity removed the
rocks, retaining the vertical rails to catch the debris. The stream bed
was then much better, with no more silt coating the bed.
In 2013, TPG
produced 'The History of the Trelissick Park Group 1991-2013' for the
OHS 'Onslow Historian' (launched early 2014).
2014 - GW withdrew the 'Key Native Ecosystem' status from the park. WCC
took over much of the pest control work from GW. Most of the TPG
documentation was archived in the OHS premises at 98 Khandallah Road.
KiwiRail carried out pest weed control along railway land, with some
bi-kill in the park. Reparation plants were provided.
2015 - An eel sign was installed next to the debris trap and a weta
hotel below Trelissick Crescent entrance 4. Website changes included
new weeds, plants and history pages. A plaque discovered in weeds was
installed on a track-side seat below Hanover Street (story in November
2015 Gorge Gazette). A complete rupture of the sewer line caused
serious pollution in Korimako Stream.
2016 - Clearance and planting of 57 Kaiwharawhara Road commenced. New
rubbish bins were installed. Bait stations were changed to use block
bait following dog poisoning from pellets. 2 Goodnature A24
self-resetting traps were installed (3 more in 2017, and more in 2020 -
now 11 total). A sewer water
quality monitoring panel was installed by Wellington Water in
Kaiwharwawhara valley. A price and drawing was obtained for a
suspension bridge across the Kaiwharawhara Stream for the track from
2017 - Twenty new pellet-filled Bait-safe stations were installed
by GW for any possums (serviced by GW). The old bridge opposite
Wightwick's Field was removed (undermined foundations). Serious
sediment pollution occurred from a housing development at the end of
Silverstream Road. Bridge 3 was damaged from flooding, so was replaced.
New gabions were installed for bridge 2 and to protect the bank down
from Wightwick's Field. VUW students studied animals in the park, using
motion-detecting cameras. Zealandia reignited 'Project Kaiwharawhara',
calling it 'Sanctuary to Sea' - expanding Zealandia's horizons and
involving more interested parties. A huge slip below the railway
required extensive protection/reinforcement - accessed by a temporary
2018 - Comprehensive plant and weed lists were added to the website and
the 'history' section expanded. The Northern Walkway from the Waikowhai
Street entrance to bridge 1 was upgraded. Northern Walkway signposts
were installed. For park access from Oban Street, Wadestown,
investigations and discussions were on-going, with a residents' survey
conducted by WCC. WCC then agreed for the project to proceed, with
funding for a new footbridge across Kaiwharawhara Stream raised by the
community. Continuous stream monitoring equipment installed in lower
Kaiwharawhara stream by GW.
2019 - Fund-raising and preliminary work for the access from Oban
Street and new Kaiwharawhara Stream footbridge to connect with the
existing track network. Replacement of small footbridge on Northern
Walkway below Hanover Street.
2020 - 2021.
2020 - Construction/completion of access from Oban Street and new
Kaiwharawhara Stream footbridge (Bridge 7). New seat to replace old seat bench
below Trelissick Crescent entrance 3. Recent major slips above Ngaio
Gorge Road required re-routing of road and restriction of access.
Remediation and increased car-parking work started in October 2020 –
ongoing until late 2022. The lower part of the park and lower entrance
closed for the duration.
2021 - Upgrade of Northern Walkway from Hanover Street to bridge 6. New
seat to replace old bench on Northern Walkway (below transmission
tower) to commemorate the Christchurch mosque victims, funded by
Wellington Interfaith Council.
(content last updated 16 June 2021)
Trelissick Park Group