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History of Clifton Terrace Restoration Group

The work was begun in the Clifton Terrace area, as a project for an apartment dweller with no garden.  An informal project was already being undertaken by another apartment resident in San Sebastian.  An initial meeting with a council parks officer resulted in the work becoming an official WCC project, and extending to cover all the land beside the motorway from the Cable Car to the cemetary. 

The main problem at that stage was identifying landowners and the various arms of the council that were involved.  At that time the council involvement covered city parks, town belt, walkway, botanic gardens and road reserve groups within the council, making liaison with the council difficult.  Recent amalgamation of work under a single parks and reserves management has eased that problem considerably. 

Part of the land is within Clifton Terrace School, with an unclear boundary partway down a steep bank.  Discussions with the school has resulted in agreement for the school land to be simply incorporated in the overall project, and done to achieve agreed broad outcomes.

Another part is unallocated Crown land, partly used by the school as a carpark.  We are still seeking formal agreement from LINZ for planting around the carpark, after a botanically-challenged LINZ contractor weeded out the vegetable and fruit garden that had been established on one side - the only time LINZ had ever done anything in the area in the term of the then principal of the school. 

A piece of private land is also included in the area. This is subject to severe erosion of a steep face created by Transit, and is being planted in flax and toetoe to reduce the problem.  The project has helped resolve what was originally an area of strong conflict between the landowner and council.

The council has provided strong support (tree removal work, weed spraying, and providing plants).  But the project has also suffered a number of incidents where council vegetation management has resulted in significant losses of plants and aesthetic values.  A MOU and long term plan will hopefully reduce the risk of future problems.

The project is divided into a number of blocks of land.  The main steps for each site (as far as possible or necessary in each case) are: acacia or other noxious tree removal, clearing the ground, terracing, planting, mulching, maintenance.  It is hoped to have all the area through to the maintenance stage within 5-7 years (timing depending on council resources available for tree removal, and resolving the impass with NZTA over tree removal near the motorway).

Tradescantia eradication is being undertaken using mechanical means - raking/scraping the land back down to bedrock, and then spot removal of any plants that are missed or accidentally re-introduced.  This has been relatively successful, with significant areas now virtually clean.

In the early stages of the project, WCC were reluctant to provide a range of large trees (e.g. podocarps) because they were unlikely to flourish.  Those bought and planted by the project have done well, and a wider range of plants is now being provided by the council.  The project is now focusing on adding a wider range of smaller plants to the planting mix, particularly ferns and herbs. 

A future focus will be on re-introducing invertebrates, once vegetation and litter is ready for them.