At Te Kowhai north-west of Hamilton, a kahikatea remnant on Peter and Denise Hartles’ dairy farm was protected with a 1.3ha QEII covenant in 1989.
During the past twenty years, QEII Waikato Regional Representatives have regularly monitored the health of the covenant, taking photographs to record the ecological changes.
As well as kahikatea, the covenant protects tawa, titoki, matai and rewarewa.
Below: The first photos on record were taken in 1987 during an inspection by Stuart Chambers of the new fence constructed to exclude stock from the covenant.
The forest had little native understorey or groundcover, just inkweed.
Below: The late Tony Fraser set up four photopoints in 2002, sketching their locations on a diagram of the covenant (P1-P4).
This ensured all future photos would be taken from the same locations, a great benefit when recording changes.
By 2002, students from Fraser High School had started to restore the open clearings in the covenant, planting a wide range of species including kahikatea, mahoe, titoki, wineberry, kawakawa and karamu.
In 2004, Hamish Dean set up a new interior photopoint in the eastern end of the remnant (P5).
After 15 years of protection with the covenant, there was good regeneration helped along by the students’ plantings.
Below: By 2006 at Photopoint 3, the planted karamu and mahoe had formed an edge in front of the kahikatea and rewarewa canopy.
Below: At Photopoint 5, the groundcover and understorey had improved with growth in ferns and dense tawa regeneration along with mapou, mahoe and turepo.
Below: With a stable canopy and a healthy edge of mahoe, the condition of the covenant in 2008 has improved substantially from the sparse vegetation present twenty years before.
Tui, kereru and kingfishers have returned.
Below: In the understorey, there is excellent regeneration of tawa, matai and mapou.
The kahikatea remnant now has good overall ecological health.
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Open SpaceTM Magazine No. 75, March 2009 © QEII National Trust