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East of Highbury

Kaimataara o Wai Manawa - the new lookout over Le Roys Bush

Update 18 May 2016

Work on the new lookout platform is progressing - the concrete deck has been poured, plumbers are installing drains and water pipes. Apparently the opening date may be delayed.
At this stage, there will be no access to the reserve from Birkenhead Avenue.  
On the ground, EcoScience Ltd has been engaged to undertake mitigation planting below the platform and the Friends of Le Roys are undertaking weed control in the reserve that will be visible from the platform.  We are also preparing a maintenance access track to restore the bush between the new walkway at 251 Hinemoa Street and the bush below Kaimataara o Wai Manawa.  We are also investigating other options to connect the public with the reserve.  As intensification brings more residents to Birkenhead, bush reserves like this will be more in demand for recreation.

Update 25 October 2015

This KLB project is now underway - see our newsletter for details. 

We transplanted the flax but with only a week's notice it wasn't possible to save anything else. 
The site is being benched ready for pile driving and footings. There is a possibility that we may have access to the site to Store our equipment.  Maybe we could create a nursery there too? We'should welcome ideas for how this space could be used to benefit the environmental community.

What would it need? Water?  Maybe power?

We have a set of root trainers. Might a local School be interested in an environmental project?

New Highbury Walkway 

Update 10 October 2015

The walkway is nearing completion - see our newsletter for details. 

Update 6 February 2015

Members of the LRB committee met with the walkway project manager and the Kaipatiki parks officer on 4 February to discuss concerns about ensuring the viability of a unique population of banded kokopu which occupy the pool directly below the entrance to the new walkway.  Kokopu depend to a large extent on the insects falling from the bush understory into their pool.  In preparation for track construction, the understory around the pool has been cut back.  The Northcote College teacher who leads a team of students in a range of studies and research will visit the site with an Auckland Council ecologist.   From 13 February because of the application of OSH rules the students will not be able to visit the site until construction is finished.  Hopefully Council will put in place some other monitoring to ensure the health of the kokopu in this part of the stream - which should be one of the valuable educational features of the new track. Also under discussion is how to protect the pools from dogs and how to ensure that people walking the track don't stray into adjacent kauri forest - although additional kauri dieback cleaning stations will be placed on the entry points to the new track, observation shows that many people don't use them. Nor do they keep their dogs on leash as required by the new bylaws.  These pools will be quite vulnerable to intrusion by pets - we will work with the Council ecologist and the Northcote College team to try to preserve this habitat and its streamlife for future generations.

Report as at 24 January 2015

A year before the Rugby World Cup, a member of the Highbury Business Association approached the Le Roys Bush Management Committee seeking support for a walking track into Le Roys Bush from Highbury.

In 2009 (?) the committee approached Tony Holman, then chair of the North Shore City Council Parks Committee, and Lindsay Waugh, a Birkenhead-Northcote Community Board member. The Le Roys Bush Management Committee appeared before the North Shore Council asking for support for a walkway. Tony Holman went into action and achieved great things - as a result, after some delays with amalgamation, 3 key properties were purchased in due course which enabled the development of a walking track. In 2011, Lindsay Waugh as chair of the Kaipatiki Local Board facilitated the initiation of the walking track project.  

Over a period of time, planning and approvals of the track were completed and now in January 2015, work has begun on the track. It is a much grander project than originally envisaged by the LRB Management Committee.  
As the following sign indicates, the track should be completed by July 2015. There is a lot of work to do.

The contractor has begun initial clearing work in preparation for the "hard landscaping" which will involve steps, board walks and bridges.

It looks as though the track will go very close to some key banded kokopu breeding pools. We will meet with the project team to ensure that their habitat is protected. 

The track is currently closed for public access as it is a worksite.  We look forward to the track being officially opened in mid 2015.

Update 10 December 2014 

This page has been neglected for over 3 years - but work has been continuing - see the following Project pages for details:

In late November 2014, Council released its Birkenhead Transformation Project which includes a "LeRoys Lookout" on the north side of the Westpac Bank building. Below is an artist's concept of the proposal.  At a presentation given by the City Transformation Team on 8 December it was noted that provision will be made for a future connection to the bush. The Kaipatiki Connections project had envisaged that the new walkway from the waterfall to Highbury - due to be constructed this summer 2014-15 - would be extended up to behind the Birkenhead Ave shops. At present the funding for this extension may be in doubt.   

If you'd like to help with working bees to restore the bush below Birkenhead Ave, please see our Calendar for details. 

Le Roys Lookout

The Auckland council-owned site on Birkenhead Avenue will be repurposed to create a vibrant public space that connects the town centre with Le Roy’s Bush, one of the largest areas of urban bush in Auckland.

Le Roy’s Lookout will be a significant viewing platform, complimented by an adjacent café space, both enjoying views across the bush. The public space could be used for performances and public activities and will create another new destination that encourages people to visit.

Making the most of Birkenhead’s green open space helps to achieve Auckland Council’s vision of creating the world’s most liveable city, complementing other town centre improvements.

Friday 9 September 2011 - Conservation Volunteers - planting and weeding

Thanks very much to Diana and 10 dedicated volunteers from http://www.conservationvolunteers.org.nz/ for their hard work on Friday 9 September 2011. The volunteers came from China, Germany, Holland, Korea, Japan, Northcote, Spain and the USA.
The helpers planted and mulched about 30 karaka in the area where the bamboo had spread from the Westpac Bank building down into the reserve and also dug out some bamboo which has started to regenerate. 
Then they weeded the area below 266-270 Onewa Road to release the 1000 natives planted in 2009. This area is making great progress.

Thanks very much to them all.

After the working bee I checked out the land behind the Westpac Building.  There was woolly nightshade and castor oil plants growing there - but more worrying was mothplant spreading across the bamboo.  Some pods had matured and moth plant seeds were floating down into the bush.  I picked half a black rubbish sack full - but will need to go back and do some more.  If anyone has time to help, please let us know - LeRoysBush@gmail.com

Sunday 31 July -  10am to 11.30 - impromptu planting bee with some donated trees

A small group planted kanuka on the reserve behind the Auckland Council owned shops at 35 to 41 Birkenhead Ave. 
This is a difficult site - most of the planting time is taken making a suitable hole in the ground through a mass of broken glass, roof tiles and other rubbish. Many thanks to Julia, Don, Eloise and Lydia from "Ashore" for their hard work.

Some cabbage trees were also planted and mulch is being spread around the carpark behind 65-67 Birkenhead Ave.  Thanks to Geoff and Linda who will finish off the work during the week. And to Steve Matthews who grew and donated the plants.

A lot of weeds were pulled in preparation for planting spaces - mainly wattle and moth plant.  Another working bee is needed to clear the weeds and to carry out more rubbish. 

The BNZ held its "Closed for Work" on Wednesday 9 March 2011

A hard working team of 5 BNZ staff members helped out in the East of Highbury project.

They made major progress in clearing large weeds (some over 6 feet high) from the area below 266 to 270 Onewa Road and then spread a truckload of mulch on the maintenance tracks - all the way down to the stream.

Their teamwork, enthusiasm and good humour were fantastic.  A big thank you to Callum, Nick, David, Susie and Andrew.   Thank you also to the BNZ for making such a great group of people available to help.

The work achieved is another major step towards developing this public reserve into an attractive recreational park. It also makes a positive step towards defining usable tracks from Highbury down to Little Shoal Bay.

We hope we will see more volunteers from the BNZ return to help this project move forward.

Future plans

Work on removing weeds and rubbish and restoring native bush will continue for some time to come.  However the Kaipatiki Local Board is supporting the proposal by some Birkenhead town centre business people to develop a walkway from Highbury down to join up with the Le Roys Bush track network.  This track is seen as having strong recreational value for the people of Birkenhead and other parts of the shore. It also has potential as an eco-tourist attraction for day visitors to Auckland to get a taste of native bush within easy reach of the CBD.

History of the East of Highbury project

This project started in 2007 when Le Roys Bush Management Committee members found that the section of Le Roys Bush immediately below Birkenhead Ave in Highbury was in a serious state - full of inorganic rubbish and with a wide variety of weeds spreading from private commercial property down into the bush.  Some "before" photos can be seen below.

A number of working bees have been held in the area over the years since 2007:
  • Thousands of weeds controlled
  • Over 1000 native plants put in the ground
  • Over two jumbo bins of rubbish removed

This project has been supported by:
  • Kaipatiki Local Board and the Auckland Council Parks Department (and the former The North Shore City Council and the Birkenhead-Northcote Community Board)
  • The Auckland Regional Authority's EIF fund
  • Darkholme Properties Limited
  • Tongue & Groove Cafe,  55 Birkenhead Avenue
  • Ashore Fine Food & Wine,  13 Birkenhead Avenue
  • Conservation Volunteers
  • Tree Fellas
  • Omni Products
We look forward to ongoing support from the new Auckland Council and the Kaipatiki Local Board.

Before the East of Highbury project

View from Onewa Road showing privet, pampas grass and wattles.  Other pest plants included gorse, woolly nightshade, ginger, and dozens of others.

The view looking south across private property towards the Westpac Bank Building showing pampas, wattles and other weeds.  Many more are hidden in the gully between.