Views of Kapiti 8: the kahikatea of Ngatiawa

It was a rainy afternoon on the last day of 2011, so the family and I went out on a drive into the countryside to get out of the house. We ventured into the Reikorangi hills to the east of Waikanae, and just at the junction of Ngatiawa and Kents Road [click here to view map], came across this paddock with a few scattered kahikatea in it. The trees are too small to be original, but are likely to have spontaneously regenerated after the forest that clothed the hills here was cleared.

I was at first surprised to see kahikatea in a upland landscape, but then realised that the road we were on ran roughly parallel with the Ngatiawa River [see photo, below left], which runs from its source in the Tararua Ranges, before joining the Waikanae River about 2 km north-west of where this photo was taken. Before settlement, the paddock that the kahikatea grew in was possibly a swampy area that received the overflow from the river.

As outlined in the earlier post, Views of Kapiti 6 – Reikorangi farmscape, the Mangaone Valley and Reikorangi hills were settled by farmers in the 1890s, but until the late 1930s, sawmilling was more economically significant than farming. Most of the accessible timber was cut out during the 1890s, but isolated pockets were worked over until the 1950s. As the land was cleared it became apparent that much of it was too steep and too poor for farming. Some of the more unproductive land has been planted in pines,  but much of it has reverted to secondary (regenerating) bush, which is any case more appealing to many of the new wave of “settlers”, many of whom are more interested in “lifestyle” than productive farming.

See also: Views of Kapiti 6 – Reikorangi farmscape

Further reading: “Waikanae – Past & Present” (1988), by Chris and Joan Maclean.

Photo top: a solitary kahikatea in a paddock on Ngatiawa Road, Reikorangi. Above: Group photograph of male pupils from Reikorangi School, which opened in 1895. The school boys, first pupils of the school, are sitting on a log in front of a recently cleared hillside. Photograph taken circa 1895 by an unidentified photographer.  Alexander Turnbull Library, ref. ID 1/2-150370-F

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