The title of this talk by the President of the Friends of Te Papa, Elizabeth Kay, “From Tip Site to Flourishing Forest”, captures in a phrase the dramatic transformation that a group of residents in a new subdivision in Brooklyn, Wellington have achieved over a period of about fifteen years.

The Coolidge Street Project began in 2003 when a new subdivision of nine acres was opened up, of which a third was kept as Council Reserve.  A small group of new residents set out to transform what had had been a weed-infested dumping ground for garden waste, rubbish of  all kinds and plagued by rats and possums. Elizabeth described the long and arduous process of clearing the very steep site, achieved with the help of corporate volunteers such as the BNZ and Mainzeal as well as the Wellington City Council and the Regional Council. After clearance the site had to be sprayed and mulched before a carefully planned planting of donated native trees and shrubs was begun.

When I visited the site on Sunday morning for the first time, inspired by the talk, I was greeted by a chorus of birdsong and a canopy of native forest which was a pleasure to behold.
The crushed body of a rat on the roadside was testimony to the ongoing war on pests.The talk demonstrated what a determined and intelligent effort by a small community group can achieve in turning a once problem area into an ecological asset for the neighbourhood and the wider community.

In a wider context I found on the web site Nature Space that the Coolidge Street Project is one of 471 projects concerned with ecological restoration and preservation throughout New Zealand. Hope for the future perhaps and a tribute to those like Elizabeth who have led these initiatives.

Lindsay Taiaroa

Member, Friends of Te Papa