Conservation at Rotota

Conservation is the act of preserving, guarding, or protecting; wise use.

The Rotota conservation experience is best described as rejuvenating or in-progress. Look closely and budding rewarewa (NZ honeysuckle), kowhai, manuka, and ferns will be emerging. However both deliberate and accidental introductions of introduced species have been made to NZ’s native flora and fauna from the time of the first human settlement.  At Rotota next to native plants will be imports our forebears mistakenly thought would make our country more beautiful – gorse, blackberry, broom, japanese honeysuckle and buddlier, plus there is pine and eucalyptus left over from the forestry period. Beside native birds – tui, cuckoo and fantail, will be imported quail, finch and swans.

Before and after photos of a club area – forestry or felled and rejuvenating bush (to be inserted)

Some interesting conservation facts

Atiamuri ecological area[1]

  •  Rotota is located in the Atiiamuri ecological area (222,440 ha) in the Taupo basin. NZ has been divided into 268 ecological regions.
  • The Taupo basin is a huge subsided area (caldera complex) formed during several catastrophic volcanic eruptions. These eruptions, along with the evolution of the Tongariro and Waikato river systems, have greatly influenced the formation of the land and vegetation.
  • The last Taupo eruption of 186 AD blasted a column of superheated rocks, pumice and ash some 50 kilometres into the air from its vent, the Horomatangi reef east of the middle of Lake Taupo. When the column collapsed it surged sideways at speeds of up to 1000 kilometres per hour, largely incinerating all pre-existing forest over a distance of about 80 kilometres in all directions.
  • Successful regeneration occurred, and prior to human settlement the land was again almost entirely re-covered in forest vegetation. Reasonably extensive wetlands existed on plains and in valley floors, many of which still remain today.
  • Repeated wildfires during the 600 years or so of Maori occupation, combined with harsh temperatures, resulted in a landscape dominated by tussockland, bracken fern and scrub, with forest generally being restricted to inaccessible steeper places and damp gullies. By 1840, much of the forest cover had been burnt.


  • Prior to deforestation, the densely forested catchment provided a natural filtration system as the water moved across the land flowing through the various wetlands, streams and waterways, eventually reaching Lake Taupo and moving on into the Waikato River as cool, clear water.
  • Following forest clearance, land drainage, land use intensification and the spread of pest species, the natural filter has been disrupted.
  • A series of hydroelectric power stations have been built along the Waikato river flooding many areas that would now be classed as outstanding natural beauty and deemed protected from such flooding (see Lake Ohakuri and the Dam).
  • Tomo are created by water erosion – our tomo in the hill contains beautiful examples of local vegetation.

Introduced species

  • The cinnabar moth released in 1929 to control ragwort and thought to be extinct has been seen on the Rotota grounds
  • A release in 2006 of a Chinese weevil as a biological control agent of buddleia can be observed in spring – hopefully the weevil won’t learn to eat anything else
  • The diversity of indigenous fish species is low with koaro, smelt, koura, bullies and native mussels probably being introduced by Maori and Europeans above Huka Falls


  • Geothermal vegetation is adapted to tolerate extremely high temperatures and unusual water and soil chemistry.
  • Podocarps are a group of plants that produce pollen in cones but their seeds are either enclosed in a fleshy cover or sit atop a fleshy ‘foot’, both of which are designed to attract birds that distribute their seeds – they include rimu, totara, kahikatea, matai and miro.

Our biggest conservation risks at Rotota

  • Loss of native fauna by pests – stoats, rats, pigs, hedgehogs, magpies, wasps. Pest mammals, especially ship rats, are major predators of our native birds and are a real threat. Pest control is the best thing everyone can do to assist in providing a safe habitat for native birds
  • Small remnant North Island brown kiwi populations exist in the region but this species will likely become locally extinct in the near future unless protected from predators such as stoats
  • Fire
  • Invasive plants species dominating native – jasmine, wandering willy, japanese honeysuckle
  • Loss of biodiversity – the club was previously forestry and remains surrounded by intense pine forestry
  • Loss of bees for pollination
  • Loss of aquatic biodiversity due to weed and the effects of farming run-off
  • Human interference and pollution

How to to be a good conservator at Rotota

  • Pick out weeds when walking the grounds, pick up fallen cabbage tree leaves before the caretaker mows
  • Adopt an area on a path, culvert or bush section at Rotota and keep invasive species down –  remove wandering willy (carefully and into black plastic bags), climbing jasmine, prickly blackberry, japanese honeysuckle
  • Replant with native plants. Keep introduced species to only within allocated sites. Avoid all invasive plants that can take over e.g. jasmine or asparagus fern
  • Plant for native birds
  • Plant locally suitable varieties such as those on the Aitimuri ecological area threatened list e.g.        Manatua (ribbonwood), Raukawa, Poroporo kawhai,  Mida (willow leaved marie), Kohurangi (Kirk’s daisy). You’ll need to visit a specialist like the Taupo Nursery
  • Good pest control – join in our club pest control activities and never throw rubbish and food waste into the bush
  • Join in on an arbor day planting or working bee, grow seedlings for future planting – help out in the plant nursery
  • Tend to the club shade trees especially in drought periods
  • Destroy wasp nests
  • Don’t pollute the water, and check for didimo
  • Come up with a conservation idea and present it to the committee; there are lots of enthusiasts who may want to help

Club conservation activities on the go

  1. Enthusiastic club members enjoying gardening and track maintenance
  2. Removing wilding pines on the hill
  3. Annual Arbour day in April/May
  4. Pest control – see the pest control tab
  5. Our nursery;  growing 250+ plants per year, mostly from seedlings picked up on walking tracks
  6. OC kiwi sound monitoring for 1-2 weeks October 2014 (See flora and fauna page)
  7. Across the river neighbours Waiotapu Office of Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa Runanga Trust. Sharing common issues. Wilding pines are being removed.
  8. A shared pest control project with Riverjet who visit the squeeze at the hot stream entrance (in development)

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