The kohekohe forest of Hemi Matenga Reserve

As mentioned in the previous post, today, Carter and I set out on one of our adventures with (inevitably) an environmental history theme – this time, to a little grove of regenerating kohekohe forest, which forms part of the Hemi Matenga Memorial Reserve, in the hills behind Waikanae [click here to view map].

The entrance to the grove, accessed from Kakariki Grove, is marked only by a little walkway sign, but as soon as we stepped onto the narrow leaf-strewn path, we were captivated – through all our senses: the cool, faintly mushroomy smell of the damp, organic material that aboundsin healthy native forest, the energetic burbling of the Kakariki Stream a short distance away, and the sunlight-dabbled green of the kohekohe, pukatea and the other foliage that characterises this rare coastal podocarp forest.

Kokekohe was once a dominant species throughout the Kapiti coastal region, but is now limited to this reserve, and other scattered remnants. The 330 hectare reserve was originally land owned by Hemi Matenga Waipunahau and Wiremu Parata Waipunahau [see photo right], brothers from a distinguished family of Ngati Toa descent. Hemi Matenga died in 1912 (his brother Wiremu Parata had died 6 years earlier in 1906), and this land was later gifted to the public to be used as a reserve.

Photo top: Carter in the kohekohe grove, part of Hemi Matenga Reserve, Waikanae. Middle: Looking skyward through the kohekohe in the grove (both photos by C. Knight). Above right: Wiremu Parata.

Sources/further reading: Hemi Matenga Scenic Reserve, Department of Conservation; Wiremu Parata, Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand.

Other “environmental history adventures” with Carter: Views of Kapiti 4: Maungakotukutuku Valley; Discovering environmental history in unexpected places; First day of spring at Nga Manu Reserve.

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