National Award for Weed Warriors

3 December 2013

Wilbur and Liz Dovey and their volunteers have won national recognition for waging war on weeds in a 20ha gully neighbouring Otari-Wilton’s Bush.

Award winners.

Weed volunteers

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The Doveys, members of the Otari-Wilton’s Bush Trust, coordinate the volunteers who have worked in the gully for the past six years. Their efforts have just been rewarded with a New Zealand Plant Conservation Network Award.

For nearly 10 years, the City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and the trust cleared and replanted the gully in a partnership known as Project Kaiwharawhara. Once most of the weeds were cleared, more than 20,000 native seedlings were planted.

But Otari-Wilton’s Bush Manager Rewi Elliot, who nominated the Doveys for the award, says planting is the glamorous part of restoration work - it is by no means the end of the task.

When the project was down-scaled in 2007, Wilbur and Liz Dovey and their team carried on battling the weeds. Their work involves clearing weeds around young plants, filling gaps and controlling problem weeds such as gorse, broom and blackberry.

Wilbur says the area includes an old tip face below Ian Galloway Park and on the first Saturday of each month up to 14 volunteers will be hard at work. “They’re mostly retired but range in age from 16 up to their late 70s. We have a lot of fun.”

“Wilbur and Liz’s efforts have been a huge contribution to the success of this project and they deserve recognition for continuing to restore a once weed-choked gully into lowland coastal forest,” Rewi says.