Rare Plant Discovered At Hereweka

While dealing with weedy elder trees in native bush on Hereweka Harbour Cone, Duncan Ross came across a surprise. What could this small leaved shrub be? It was unlike any he had seen previously.

Duncan posted photos of the unfamiliar shrub on iNaturalist and his identification was confirmed as Raukaua anomalus.  While raukaua is relatively common throughout New Zealand, its presence on the Otago Peninsula is extremely rare due to the lack of native forest remnants.

Duncan Ross with his rare find. Duncan has been tirelessly working on weed projects at Hereweka for some time and his work has been invaluable.

On the Otago Peninsula this species is known only from 2 sites at Sandymount. So, finding a new shrub in the steep and almost inaccessible Rutherford’s Bush is very exciting for the Trust. Cuttings have been taken and later the ripe fruit will be collected in an effort to propagate this rare species.

The word “anomalus” comes from the Greek for unusual.  If propagation is successful and more are planted, it is hoped this species will no longer remain unusual on the Peninsula.

Detail of Raukaua anomalus

Hounds at Hereweka – Smiths Creek

With the continued work in restoring the water catchment at Smiths Creek on the Hereweka block the site has been fenced off from the main farm. This has allowed the plant restoration to continue without having to worry about stock eating the plants. What it has also created is a contained area free of stock which will allow owners to exercise their dogs. However, it does not open up the rest of the property for dogs which is presently closed to the public for the traditional lambing period. The Trust have decided to trial the fenced Smiths Creek area as a place where people may bring their dogs, but like everything it comes with some responsibilities listed on the attached signage. The Trust hopes people will respect the area and the hard work being undertaken at Smiths Creek. Enjoy it and play nice.

Building Change at Hereweka

The Hereweka Trust have recently deconstructed the small barn used as an early 20th century woolshed at the Larnach’s farmstead on the Hereweka site. The work was undertaken by local contractor John Clearwater  from Clearwater Civil and supervising archaeologist Peter Petchey. While it was sad to see the building go, the building had reached a state of such disrepair its retention and conservation were almost impossible. From the deconstruction the Trust were able to ascertain that the building was;

  • probably not part of the original  Larnach-period and was constructed in the early 20th century.
  • its construction was a mixture of timbers (including imported hardwoods, a small amount of pit-sawn natives, milled rimu and milled pine).
  • some of the material had been “cobbled together” from other buildings.
  • very little of the material was sound enough for reuse, though some may be used as seating in the future.

A full archaeological report will follow the work and this information helps the Trust develop further understanding of the use of the site both during and after the Larnach period. Some of that will help form part of the later interpretation for visitors to the site.


Click go the Shears

Dairy farming around Harbour Cone declined in the early 1900s. The Nyhon family bought out the small farms down in Smiths Gully, as well as the Larnach Model Farm on Camp Road. The amalgamated farms gave the Nyhon family 250-300 acres, with their best road access being at Camp Road, rather than Highcliff Road.

Larnach’s Camp Road farmstead was not ideal for a shearing shed and associated yards as they sit precariously on a small flat section of steep hillside. The small barn was eventually built into two-stand shearing shed around 1910. The back wall had been supported by massive natural posts, which were two stories high, with corrugated iron cladding to protect the supporting bank. Today, the posts are now rotten hollow shells, the cladding sheets dropping off in chunks, and the central roof beam broken in two places.

The Hereweka Trust is in the process of deconstructing the little shearing shed, with detailed recording at all stages. While making his first drawings and measurement of the building, consultant archaeologist Peter Petchey, came across eight wool bale stencils, tucked neatly away on a top plate since the shed was last used in the 1990s. They are an interesting find and provide an insight into the move from dairying into sheep farming.

Becoming Local at Hereweka

copy-of-lara-and-onlooker-zakThe Hereweka Harbour Cone property has a fascinating history and landscape, and now new citizens are able to add to that history and put down new roots in New Zealand. The Dunedin City Council offers new citizens the option of  having their gift tree planted on the public land of the Hereweka Harbour Cone Block so that it remains and flourishes in perpetuity. Recently Lara Jones planted the kowhai she was given  at Smiths Creek when she became a New Zealand citizen. Here she is observed by dog, Zak, who regularly supervises the planting of native trees in the Smiths Creek area.

Kia ora Lara, nau mai haere mai

Mad About Kanuka

Otago Campus Greens with Lala and Ian

Over recent weeks the Hereweka Trust have had a range of volunteers planting trees on one of the steep slopes above the Smiths Creek Catchment. Supervised by our Chair Lala Frazer and her husband Ian, many hands have made light work of this ambitious re-vegetation project. On Sunday 28th the Trust were very pleased to host the Otago Campus Greens on the site who have added further planting to the area. 

Kanuka Planting Area

Annual General Meeting

Nigel and horse at the AGM

On Sunday 28th the Hereweka Harbour Cone Trust held its first Annual General Meeting. The meeting was held “al fresco” at the Bacon Street entrance to the property. After the usual reports all trustees expressed their wish to remain on the committee and our officer holders will remain in place for another year. One of the more interesting aspects of today’s meeting was the arrival of one of our members by horse. It would be doubtful that many organisations have a horse at its AGM. Its worth noting that the horse does not have voting rights!