Historic Site: Maara Roa

"History is her story too."

- Author unknown.

 
Image of The Cannons Creek Valley in the Belmont Hills.
The Cannons Creek Valley in the Belmont Hills.
Photo supplied by the Friends of Maara Roa.
 

Maara Roa is native forest restoration project which is ongoing in Cannons Creek Valley. The Friends of Maara Roa grow native seedlings, plant and tend native trees, improve freshwater wetlands, open new walking tracks, among other things.

The origin of Maara Roa's name comes from a story about a Maori woman, whose name is unknown, who tended a garden on a long strip of land somewhere in the northern side of the valley. She grew fruit and vegetables and shared them generously with Maori and Pakeha alike. Travellers called her land "Maara Roa" – long garden.

The word Maara does not mean garden in the Pakeha sense, but an area of land that is valuable to humans and which they look after. Some maara were cultivated (for example, kumara plots in the north of New Zealand), other maara were valued for the shrubs and trees growing in the natural forest which were used for medicine and healing, and others again for the height and strength of the trees used for waka, fortifications and buildings.

 
Image of Friends of Maara Roa on site.
Friends of Maara Roa on site.
Photo supplied by the Friends of Maara Roa.
 

The Friends of Maara Roa adopted the name for their project to restore a threatened and dying native forest. They see the unnamed woman in the story as linking Maori values and Pakeha values each caring for the land and its forests in their own way, each totally dependent on the life that is found in the trees, plants and shrubs that grow there.

The word Roa meaning long is apt, Maara Roa stretches from Warspite Avenue to its head on the ridgetop of the Belmont Hills (300m above sea level) – it is three and a half kilometres long! The Cannons Creek valley is in total 200 hectares (not including the little 8 hectare Cannons Creek Lakes Reserve) and the Friends of Maara Roa aim to restore the whole valley from top to bottom.

For more information about Maara Roa and the work the Friends of Maara Roa are carrying out, see their website or email info@maararoa.org.nz.

Continue to Kenepuru Street Houses or return to East Porirua.