Land Purchase to Boost Oruaiti Reserve

28 May 2012

After almost a decade of negotiations, Wellington City Council has purchased close to two hectares of land next to the western side of Oruaiti Reserve, which overlooks the harbour entrance between Seatoun and Breaker Bay.

The land will complement Oruaiti Reserve (formerly known as Point Dorset Recreation Reserve), which is owned by the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust (PNBST) and managed in partnership with the Council.

The Council's Natural Environment Portfolio Leader, Councillor Helene Ritchie, says the land will ensure public access to this important coastal area and preserve its rich history.

"This is a very significant headland that is already well used by the public. It contains most of the old Oruaiti Pā - a site of outstanding significance to tangata whenua - as well as two former gun batteries built to defend Wellington at the outbreak of World War Two."

Work has begun on enhancing the reserve, which is getting a makeover thanks to a $400,000 grant from the Plimmer Bequest Fund.

Liz Mellish, from PNBST, says the centrepiece of the new development will be a stylised landscape feature on the Pā site at the southern end of the reserve, symbolising an early waka arrival.

"The 17-metre long waka structure, with its prominent design and landscaping, acknowledges the importance of this site for iwi, particularly its association with the explorer Kupe and historical significance of the old Pā."

The area's rich heritage and stories will also be explained in interpretation panels and signs.

"We'll be improving the walkways and entrances, and working to restore the area's ecology. Oruaiti Reserve is an important breeding ground for little blue penguins and we will begin work on restoring and protecting their habitats."

Cr Ritchie and the PNBST are inviting the public to 'dig-in' and help out with the reserve's development to help mark Arbor Day and the Year of the Coast on Tuesday 5 June.

"We think Oruaiti Reserve is a perfect place for Wellingtonians to celebrate this special environmental awareness day this year," she says. "Bring your gloves and a spade and help us reach our goal of planting 3000 native plants. Everything kicks off at 10am and we'll be providing lunch."

The Oruaiti Reserve Management Plan, developed with the help of the community last year, is available at Wellington.govt.nz and includes more information on long-term restoration plans for the area.