Park’s Reach – Te Karamu – Between Two Bridges


Te Karamu – Between two Bridges

The story of a Hawke’s Bay (New Zealand) stream-bank restoration project

John Gould

Booklet (SCHNEG)

Frontispiece: Cyril and Hettie Park amidst native plantings at Park’s Reach, 2009.

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Location Map: Havelock North, showing Park’s Reach on Karamu Stream. Flow is towards north-east. The four adjacent tributaries from the southern foothills are (blue: west to east) Herehere, Mangarau, Tekahika and Karituwhenua Streams.

Author:   John Gould

Design and layout:   Jim Watt
Photographs: SCHNEG members unless otherwise stated.
Production:   The Print House, Treachers Lane, Havelock North.

The author asserts his moral right in the work.

This booklet is copyright. All rights reserved.
© SCHNEG 2019.

ISBN 978-0-473-49734-7

Published by Saint Columba’s Havelock North Environment Group (SCHNEG).
Saint Columba’s Havelock North,
Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand.
P.O. Box 8487, Havelock North 4157

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1998 – PROGRESS   10
1999 – BETTER and BETTER   16
Hettie’s Resumé   17
Other Issues   23
2000 to 2019 –
Acknowledgements   29

APPENDIX 1: Cyril Park’s Map showing the areas to be planted in 1998   30
APPENDIX 2: Rev. Bob Eyle’s Sermon   31
APPENDIX 3: Invitation to the Opening on 30 July 1997   34
APPENDIX 4: The watering roster for the summer of 1998   35

Frontispiece: Cyril and Hettie Park amidst native plantings at Park’s Reach. 2009.
End piece: The car-park and official entrance off Napier Road in Havelock North.

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The genesis of the development of Park’s Reach, that section of the Karamu stream between the bridges on Havelock Rd and Crosses Rd Havelock North, was the formation of a discussion group, St Columba’s Havelock North Environmental House Group. This group was initiated by Reverend Bob Eyles together with Hettie and Cyril Park in 1992. Bob was the then minister at St Columba’s Presbyterian Church in Havelock North. Hettie and Cyril were members of the congregation. They were joined by other like-minded environmentalists from the congregation including: Joan Bennett, Athol and Cynthia Buckland, Margot Harvey, Wayne Rewcastle, Anne and John Slade and their son Derek, Thelma Tasman Smith, Ailsa Thomsen, Harry Trigg, Jim Watt, and Fiona and Cyril Whitaker. Over the years, some would leave and others join this group.

Athol Buckland was a retired engineer. He had a wide interest in the major environmental issues facing the world, and the early meetings of the Group were mainly taken up with in-depth discussion papers, prepared by Athol. Getting closer to home a letter from SCHNEHG of 14 November 1994 to the Hastings District Council takes issue with matters concerning sub divisions on Te Mata Peak. The Group later also involved itself in public discussions on Hastings City wastewater issues. However there were some who felt that the group should be “actually DOING something”. A meeting minute dated 24 August 1994 stated “Global issue spot, on the agenda, be in abeyance”. It could be said (but it was not recorded!) that local councils were put on notice!

The regional council was later taken to task for not having a Vision Statement to front its inaugural planning process and intentions. The Council disagreed. The issue was finally adjudicated by the Environment Court in Wellington in favour of ‘SCHNEHG’ – an acronym bestowed by the Regional Councillors who had become frustrated with continually having to pronounce the full title of the Group 1.

According to Eileen von Dadelszen, the Court’s decision considerably enhanced SCHNEHG’s reputation with the Regional Council as a group of people who knew what they were talking about, and were prepared to take action and do things.

In an article in Crosslink (February 1996) Rev. Bob Eyles wrote the following:

“It is now realised that the planetary, environmental crisis is of central concern to the church, this shown for example by the adoption of a fifth face of mission – “Care for Creation ” by the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (following the

1   In later years the second H was removed when the Group met on Church premises rather than at individual’s homes.

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Anglican Church). I passed on the question (What and How?) posed by the editor of Crosslink, to the Environmental House Group of my parish. After an evening of intense discussion they came up with six environmental issues which, from a South Pacific point of view, are of crucial importance. It is very easy to become overwhelmed and discouraged by the sheer magnitude of problems such as, global warming, sustainable land management, loss of biodiversity, and pollution. To counter this, my house group strongly suggests that the most important thing a concerned church group can, and should, do is to become involved in a local restorative project.”

Thus was born the concept of what would become known as Project Karamu.


Project Karamu

It is interesting to note that the project went by different names as it proceeded. It was variously called Karamu Project, Operation Karamu, and then Project Karamu by which it was finally known.

There are big gaps in the written records of SCHNEHG between 1994 and 1997 and nowhere can be found a record of when the Karamu 2 was first mentioned at a meeting, or by whom. However, by those who were present it is generally agreed that it was by Hettie Park. One account has Hettie and her husband Cyril driving across the Havelock Road bridge one day and commenting on the ‘awful state’ of the banks of the Karamu and that it would be a great thing if it could be tidied up and made to look beautiful. However, as will be seen later, their thinking was much deeper than that.

The first reference to Karamu in the available minutes (26 March 1997) includes some rather cryptic comments which imply that people were reporting back after having been given tasks at the previous meeting on 26 February 1997. It would seem reasonable to assume that the idea of doing something at the Karamu took hold late 1996.

2   Te Karamu refers to the catchment and waters of the Karamu stream as described later.

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An indication that any project would be thoroughly planned and executed is demonstrated by the guests who were at the March meeting: Eileen von Dadelszen, H.B Regional Council; Dinah Williams, Havelock North Ward Hastings District Council; Norm Olsen, Regional Council engineer; Jerry Hapuku, Ngati Kahungunu.

Included in that minute, without any comment, was the following quotation:
“The history of the Karamu is central to Hawke’s Bay and the flooding of Hawke’s Bay. We have moved today to people ruling the river rather than the river ruling us. The Karamu Project is a memorial to the ancients”.

This comment is important to note as it demonstrates that the Karamu, as a whole, is not just that short stretch flowing through Havelock North, but is over 40 kilometres in length, and in addition has a number of tributaries. It has a total catchment of 490 square kilometres including the southern margin of the Heretaunga plains of Hastings. Much of the plains area is very flat and has been prone to flooding.

Coming back to the record of that meeting on 26 March, and in particular comments by the guests present:

Photo caption –


Figure 1.   Once just an overgrown drain. View is looking downstream (NE) from the Havelock Road bridge. Undated. (Photo: Archive Room. Havelock North Library). Compare with Figure 17.

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Eileen von Dadelszen briefly outlined a Regional Council paper by M. Aide [Adye] (October 1996) which dealt with public access (meaning vehicle access) to two traditional recreation areas on the river-side of the larger Ngaruroro River. The first had been completed the previous year. The Karamu had not been included because it did not meet the criteria. It was suggested that SCHNEHG should make a submission concerning public access to the Karamu, to the review of the Regional Council’s Annual Plan – by 26 April! An appropriate submission could trigger access to funds already allocated for work such as envisioned for the Karamu Project.

Norm Olsen reviewed the early history of the Ngaruroro River which, prior to a massive flood in 1867, had followed the course of the present Karamu stream. He reiterated that flood control was absolutely paramount, therefore there would be limitations on what and where planting could take place. A hundred year flood is what had to be taken into account. Norm confirmed that, subject to appropriate conditions funds could be available from his budget.

Dinah Williams expressed her support for, and Mayor Dwyer’s interest in, the plan.

A working group comprising Bob Eyles, Hettie and Cyril Park, John Benson and Joan Bennett, was confirmed. The minutes of the next meeting of SCHNEHG held on 30 April indicated how much work had been done by that working group during the intervening period. In presenting their report (including three sets of minutes), Hettie Park outlined the development of the project. This included on-site meetings and its culmination in a joint agreement on a five year plan of clearing and planting.

Meanwhile the Regional Council were addressing boundary issues with neighbours because it was the legal owner of the channel. It was also considering earth-work in the channel necessary to optimise flood control. Cyril Park presented a map of the stream area showing blocks to be planted, this being the southern side (true right bank) of the Karamu Stream for the 1 kilometre between the two bridges of Havelock Road and Crosses Road (Appendix I).

Discussion followed and the following actions were agreed:

1.   Initial planting to be carried out during Conservation Week. 27 July. The exotics in the Mary Doyle block to be interspersed with Kowhai (Sophora tetraptera). The north and south abutments of the Havelock Rd bridge to be cleared of weeds and agapanthus and planted with small native species.

2.   Blocks 1-3 to be cleared, prepared and planted, in native species, in 1998-99.

3.   A submission be made to the Regional Council draft Annual Plan, to have the project listed and receive official approval.

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At the Submission Hearing of the Regional Council’s Annual Plan for 1997-98 it was apparent that SCHNEHG had won favourable general support from Council staff.

“Opportunities for (the re-vegetation of the Karamu Stream floodway are limited and a great deal of care needs to be taken to ensure that the flood capacity of the channel is not diminished. Any tree planting or development needs to be under the direct control of Council as it must be done in terms of the Karamu Stream Management Plan. Within these criteria, staff support the aims of the group as there are significant advantages for the Council in having a community-group take care of amenity planting. It is considered that some funding could be made available to the group from Project 273 (Public access to rivers) for the purchase of a limited number of trees. ”

At the Hearings, Harry Trigg was especially effective, honing his preparation and delivery skills in the presentation of a very persuasive submission.

At this time two other actions set the scene for optimism:

Dr and Mrs Bruce Paton had donated $500 for Karamu re-vegetation, this initiating the opening by St Columba’s treasurer of a special financial account.

Rev Bob Eyles spoke of the exciting feeling of “a vision happening”. His sermon (Appendix 2) at the 10.00 am Service of Sunday 27 July 1997 gives an insight in to his thinking, and that of the Group, at the time.


A report in the Village Press of 7 May 1997 gives a very good account of the intentions of SCHNEHG. In answering a reporter’s question, “Why has a church group decided to spearhead an environmental project? Hettie Park replied: “It stems from an inherent belief that we must care for God’s creation. Further, it is also intended to be a community project which will allow people to feel that they are making a constructive difference to their landscape and feel part of the project. At St Columba’s, as a parish, has a particular concern for the environment with Rev. Bob Eyles having written many papers and books on the subject eg ‘Voices of Hope in a Suffering World’ which was available in the local Library.”

Hettie also said the [that] SCHNEG acknowledges the co-operation and patience of the local councils in explaining the intricacies of dealing with stream areas. Hettie’s fondness of native vegetation and birds becomes apparent when she is quoted as saying…

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“The village is very lovely, but it is a completely English landscape and you have to look hard to find native plantings. We feel that if we bring the natives back, birds will return to Havelock North”.

The wider thinking of the group is also revealed with the thought of the whole area, along the banks of the stream, becoming a Recreation Area.

SCHNEG also consulted with local Maori. They told the group that when the Ngaruroro changed course 100 years ago from the Karamu channel they regarded the Karamu as Karamu-Waimate – Dead Water. SCHNEHG hoped to bring new life to it. Jerry Hapuku of Ngati Kahungunu indicated he was prepared to bless the project.

So it was all go! An Opening Invitation was distributed (Appendix 3) and an initial planting of 25 kowhai took place on 30 July 1997. This was carried out by school pupils from lona College and Havelock North Primary School, assisted by members of SCHNEHG who had already dug holes in appropriate locations. The mayor of Hastings Jeremy Dwyer, the chairman of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Ross Bramwell, and Jerry Hapuku of Ngati Kahungunu spoke to those present.

Figure 2:   Real work about to start. Members of SCHNEG getting ready to dig holes for the young Kowhai. Left to right: John Gould, Terry Griggs, Hettie Park, Margo [Margot] Harvey, Rob Hodge, Graeme Mueller, Bob Sanderson, Rev. Bob Eyles.

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Thus we see the vision starting to take shape. During the following summer the young trees were cared for by members of SCHNEHG and other volunteers who bucketed water from the Karamu stream and carefully watered each tree. Later a local resident in the Mary Doyle Retirement Village, Mrs Pat Van Ash would push a hose through her fence which made the task somewhat easier. Those rostered each week kept a watchful eye on weather forecasts, some with the hope it would rain enough during the week so that they would be spared this onerous task. However, if there was no rain the trees always got watered. This task was religiously followed until an irrigation system was installed in 1998.



The minutes of a meeting on January 28 1998 have a note that the decision regarding the number of trees to be planted that year was on hold. This was because it was necessary for the Regional Council to clear the flat floodway next to the stream and determine the actual line, between the floodway and adjacent slopes, beyond which trees could not be planted. This floodway was eventually cleared and planted in grass all the way to Crosses Rd. Only when the actual area involved was determined could the number of trees be decided. The aim was for planting to take place during Environmental Week, the first week in August. Later the purchase of 235 trees was approved which meant there were over 300 plants to go into the ground.

Outside interest in, and support for the project was growing. Minutes of the March meeting noted that besides a grant of $500 from the Regional Council another donation of $30 and gifts of 25 cabbage trees and 25 hebes had been received. By May a further $140 and 38 native seedlings had been donated.

Planting took place on Wednesday 5 August with assistance of pupils from Te Mata Primary School and Havelock North Intermediate. The placement of the plants was done according to a plan drawn up by Cyril Park. Preparation included spot spraying to keep the area immediately around each plant free of grass and weeds (for a short time at least).

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Figure. 3.   Bob Eyles, Jerry Hapuku and school children at the 1998 planting.

Figure 4.   Unloading 200 plants from Bill Dodd’s (Hettie and Cyril’s son-in-law) truck to be ready for planting. August 1, 1998.

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Figure 5.   Busy planting.

Figure 6.   The ‘bucket brigade’ at work the day after planting.

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Later an irrigation system was installed with a connection to the Havelock water supply. This was achieved via a 20 mm pipe running from a toby-box near the BP Petrol Station in Karanema Dr through what is now part of the Mary Doyle Retirement Village. This pipe then ran along the front of the planting and had 4 taps on it to which the sprinklers could be attached. There was a suggestion that when the plants no longer required watering the pipe might remain in place and two drinking fountains be installed. However this idea did not obtain the approval of the Council owing to the cost of maintenance. The materials for this system were provided, at cost ($800), by Mr Wayne August of Automatic Irrigation Ltd. There is no record as to whether or not the main pipe was ever removed: it may still be there for someone in the future to puzzle about!

The installation of the irrigation system with two large rotating sprinklers reduced the hard work of bucketing water to individual plants but still required the sprinklers to be set up and taken down each time they were needed. The watering roster (Appendix 4) for the summer of 1998-9, with abbreviated instructions, reflects the organisation and physical effort involved. (The close typed full instruction list took up half an A4 page and consisted of seven individual points!)

Figure 7.   The old pump house (DSIR Hort. Research) at the site where the irrigation system started. (The zigzag path to Mary Doyle is now there).

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While the installation of irrigation saved a lot of hard work it did create another problem in that it not only ensured that plants got enough water but so also did the grass and weeds between the plants! This created the possibility of smothering the young plants while at the same time creating a fire danger when dry.

From this time on there was a necessity for regular working bees to control the grass and weeds. Later still the work of volunteers was supplemented by PD (Preventive Detention) workers required to do community work by the Justice Department. These people, under the supervision of Paul Lister, continued to provide significant and helpful support for a number of years. Over enthusiastic use of a weed eater did occasionally result in the loss of a few plants which needed replacing!

Just as with the Kowhais, the young plants required regular watering by ‘the bucket brigade’ under the enthusiastic guidance and energetic supervision of Jean Campbell. If Jean was not at home she could usually be found ‘down at the Karamu’ with her friend Val Stent.

In September 1998 all this hard work, and its associated organisation, was formally recognised by the Regional Council with a presentation to SCHNEG of an Environmental Award. The Village Press of 7 October reported this under the heading:

‘Much Deserved Award’!

”We’ve just moved along in faith” says Hettie Park of the St Columba’s Environmental House Group (SCHNEG), recent recipient of a Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Environmental Award.

The group’s “Operation Karamu” project, which will rejuvenate the banks of The Karamu Stream, has captured the hearts and souls of Havelock North people with over 400 native trees planted already – and that’s just the start! In acknowledging SCHNEG’s (and other participants) work with an Environmental Award, Chairman Ross Bramwell, pictured here (Figure 8) with Hettie, said “You are leading by example in a way which educates and encourages others in the community, and preserves the natural physical environment for future generations”.

Thanks to the generosity of supportive Havelock North residents, funds are in hand to install a full irrigation system along the planted area and it is hoped this will be in place very soon with the help of one of the SCHNEG members, John Gould.

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Norm Olsen of the Regional Council is currently overseeing a “tidy up” of the area across the other side of the stream and further plantings are planned for Conservation Week around the middle of next year.

The more money SCHNEG can accumulate the bigger the trees they can purchase for planting ! If you would like to contribute please call Joan Bennett on 877 2324 or Hettie Park on 877 5165. In the meantime, feel free to walk along the banks of the Karamu using the new steps by the Mary Doyle Complex (near the Havelock Road bridge) to gain access and enjoy the evolving landscape…’

The framed award hangs in ‘pride of place’ in the St Columba’s foyer.

Figure 8:   Hettie holding the Regional Council Environment Award just received from Chairman Ross Bramwell. September 1998.

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Better and better!

In the records of SCHNEG there is a gap between September 1998 and April 1999. It would appear that this gap was the result of a change in secretarial duties as there is significant difference in the style of recording. However the activity of that summer is recorded in a note “there have been several working bees at Karamu watering and grubbing hemlock”. Also the roster, referred to previously, would have been operating. There is also a note in the April 28 meeting about working in the rain. No watering required that day!

It appears that the walnut trees previously mentioned were still there at this time and that there was reluctance on the part of Council to remove them.

The April 1999 meeting also includes mention of a proposal by Jim Watt for the next stage of Operation Karamu. As ever Jim was thinking ahead and envisioned that the reformed floodway could provide opportunity for a walkway between the Havelock Road bridge and Crosses Road bridge. To enhance the walking experience Jim suggested that three or four signboards be erected telling walkers of the geology, flora and fauna, and history of the area. Again such action required the consent of the Regional Council. It was decided that consent would be sought and an application for funding made by way of submission to the council annual plan which needed to with the council by 28 May, so a working bee of a different kind was required! Jim and Cyril Park took the initiative and joined the Hastings District Heritage Trail Society where Don Trask was already a stalwart, and Megan Williams of Hastings a highly effective chairperson. The purpose was to perhaps include the Karamu walkway in a new pamphlet of Havelock North walks. Their membership was also useful in obtaining information about suitable signboards. They were successful on both counts! Of course, these signboards would require council consent and once again Harry Trigg’s persuasive presentation skills carried the day. The end result for Karamu were six Heritage Trail signboards describing various aspects of the Te Karamu landscape.

Later, a call was made for funds to enable seats to be erected next to the signboards. Walkers could then read the stories of the Karamu while taking a rest. The result was positive, and compliant seating areas were established with donor plaques placed on the seats.

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While this was going on, preparations were underway for the 1999 Public Planting Ceremony to be held on Wednesday 4 August, and the activities preceding it. What better way to describe all this than to reproduce a resume by Hettie. This provides a real sense of the feelings, attitudes, and work of those involved throughout the whole project.

Hettie’s Resumé

“The soup and rolls meeting at 6.30pm on 28 July 1999 proved a very apt way to prepare for the planning the following Wednesday 4”’ August. Great plans were in hand with Jim Watt as chairman of proceedings. He had obviously put a great deal of thought into the ceremony and received numerous offers of help and support. The weather was anything but inspiring, cold winds, heavy rain, anxious schools and groups ringing to enquire what alternatives had been worked out in case of heavy rain. The only response we could offer was that was all in God’s hands! There were three separate plantings and Jean Campbell had the 420 plants all regimented, like soldiers, in different groups, in her garden. All week Jean stood in for Cyril quietly bringing the plants together in exquisite order. Val, Mac and Jean spent Friday afternoon placing them into numbered cartons for transportation. Heather Sanders came to help on Friday and extended her assistance to the next morning as numbers available diminished.

Harry Trigg, Jim Watt, and Cyril Whitaker all came with their trailers to uplift the plants from Jean’s and arrived at the site via the Hort. Research route. They began distributing the three large scoops of compost, donated by the HDC, transported by Jeanette Thornburrow and two conscripts, including one for trailer manoeuvring to facilitate offloading along and through the fence line. We were prepared to work all day. glad of the fine weather, and though cold, excellent conditions. 180 trees to be planted each with a dose of compost and 2 slow release pellets. We worked from 8.30 to 11.30. Margot and Jeanette came with coffee and morning tea. It is always moving to see Schneg at work [! Ed.] and this was no exception.

The following day, Sunday 1st August, was ‘Forest and Bird Day’. It was away back in February that we had picked up 210 trees from their nursery in Tollemarch [Tollemache] Road, 60 of which we agreed to set aside for the Hastings

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Conservation Kids to plant and this they did, supported by Raewyn Ricketts, Joan Burns and parents. Harry and Jim were present, also Alan Lee who picked up Hettie on his way. Alan gave us a lesson in tree planting and the compost and pellets were put beside each hole. This proved to be a lovely ceremony and beautiful to see these very young children handling them trees so carefully and well.

This year the public planting was much more involved than previous years. We endeavoured to cover the schools that had previously been involved – Iona, Havelock Primary, Te Mata School and Havelock North Intermediate. This year Te Aute College, who are working on a re-vegetation project themselves, were also invited. We also had a request from the Special Needs Group at Havelock North High School and 8 of them came along. For the third year in a row the day dawned clear and bright after extremely heavy rain the previous day and over night, “This is the day that the Lord had made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. ” These thoughts went through my mind a thousand times that day. An early start with the last trees to be picked up from Jean’s at 8.30am restoring her garden back to normal. At this stage I have to stop and give thanks for Jean’s joy in the work she was doing and her true devotion to those trees and for her ready smile at all times. We give one back. Way to go Jean. She has been an inspiration likewise Jeanette, who was always there planning and acting as only she can.

Hort. Research had been extremely co-operative with allowing us access through their land as the distance of the tree planting is now extending well down from the Havelock Bridge and this way we could park alongside the fence and simply drop the plants over. Sue van de Mirk owner of Titoki nurseries at Clive had offered to spend the day down at the stream and had also undertaken to place the trees, grouped according to species, in appropriate places. She arrived at 9am on this lovely morning with a truck load of 85 plants and worked with Harry and Jim placing our plants along with hers. Alex was down there to take photos and he was soon given the task of distributing the pellets. In the end there were over 200 plants put in that day.

Jim and Harry planned to be at the stream at 12.30 with Margot on duty at the bridge and Jeanette at Anderson Park. Geoff and I were to convoy several vehicles to meet at 12.40 at Goddard’s Lane, through Hort. Research, including disabled people like Ruth Flashoff, the sound system man, Cyril, the Iona girls and the Special Needs Group. It was something of a shock to see two large Nimmon [Nimon] busses [buses] arriving – I had visualised their smaller Iona vans! All’s well

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that ends well, and already there great activity. Jim calm, and with Harry greeting everyone, the Iona choir was in place, and the bank filling up with reds, blues and greens of the different school uniforms.

Proceedings began sharply at 1pm with Jim extending a warm welcome to us all. The Mayor, Jeremy Dwyer, Chairman of Regional Council Ross Bramwell and Jerry Hapuku all played tribute to Schnehg. The Te Aute boys performed a waiata at the end of Jerry’s speech, the Iona girls sang beautifully, and Sue from Titoki Nurseries gave an impressive description of how to plant a native tree. Both councils were well represented by councillors. Also present were the manager of Eastern & Central Community Trust, Alan Lee from DOC, Norm Olsen Regional Council engineer, Forest and Bird and Heritage Trail people, Pat Grant who was with us on that first memorable walk through rank grass and prostrate willow trees when we endeavoured to visualize the task ahead.

It really was something to see the children so happily planting, everyone involved. And just so quickly it was all over, and we all realized that there were now about 1000 trees settling into their new surroundings. Jerry’s young whanau gave an impromptu repeat of the official proceedings. They delighted members of the group when they observed their waiata and prayer when planting their tree. Sue also stayed behind after we had all left, going to every plant and, as she said, “putting them to bed for the night”.

Support has been overwhelming, and Ross Bramwell’s comments to the Eastern & Central Trust people somehow summed it all up “This little group of people has brought us together in a wonderful way. The two Councils are working together to help make this a very special place and to encourage the Havelock North community to be more aware of its environment. ” The customary refreshments were enjoyed at 86 Busby Hill where old hands and new shared their delight at the task accomplished and the joy of anticipation of its fruition.

Hettie Park.

Confirmed with contributions by associates, Cyril Park, Cyril & Fiona Whitaker, John & Mary Benson, Jean Campbell, Margot Harvey, John & Eunice Gould, Charles Bowley, Harry Trigg, Jim Watt, Jeanette Thornburrow, Alec Crockett [Crocket].”

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This 1999 planting meant that there was now only a short distance to be planted next year to bring it up to meet that which had been done some years earlier by Mr. H. Person, the owner of the land marked ‘private’ on the map in Appendix 1. 3

No more public planting ceremonies!


Opening public access

Minutes of a meeting on 31 May contain the following information. Arbour day June 5, 2000 was set for the planting of 110 trees by Kiwi Conservation Kids, their parents and supporters. The remaining 140 of 250 trees, donated by Forest and Bird Protection Society (Hastings), to be planted by SCHNEHG members at a date to be determined.

3   Initially Mr Person had been apprehensive regarding the work of SCHNEHG because of the perceived impact of increased public access along the river. Latterly he became thoroughly supportive and we salute his original foresight in establishing a ‘Sanctuary* on his property.

Photo caption – Figure 9:   Local school children at the 1999 planting ceremony.

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This almost sounds like something of an anticlimax compared with previous preparations.

However, the Group had other things on its mind and the issue of a car park near the Crosses Road Bridge was being considered. The Hastings District Council had been approached, but despite an initial positive response nothing eventuated at this time.

A note dated June 2000 contains the following which indicates that a lot was still happening.

“There are still some trees at Jean Campbell’s and she and Val Stent intend to work along the entire planting replacing trees that have not survived. PD workers dug the necessary holes and also set in place the sponsored seats. They expect to complete the landscaping of the seats in the next fortnight”.

Once the Regional Council had completed the formation and grassing of the floodway between the two bridges, the question of a public opening of the walk way had to be considered. In reality this would be the culmination of Operation Karamu and it needed to be conducted in an appropriate manner. And so it was.

Figure 10:   Regional Council contractors work to clear the last section of the proposed walkway. No small job. Clearing this area cost $78,000!

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The Regional Council set the date to be Saturday 28th October 2000. Invitations were sent to 85 people indicating the extent to which support for, and involvement in, the project had been forthcoming. What was originally conceived as a millennium project was to be opened in the first year of the millennium. The previous week a working bee of 26 people were at the Karamu to ensure that it was looking its best.

The programme was as follows:

9.30am Guests Meet at St Columba’s Church
Bus to Crosses Rd and met by SCHNEG members
Approximately 30 minutes of speeches
Master of Ceremonies Harry Trigg
Megan Williams, Heritage Trails
Jeremy Dwyer, Mayor HDC
Jerry Hapuku, Kaumatua representing local Maori
Ross Bramwell, Chairman HBRC
Rev. Brett Johnson, St Columba’s (Blessing)
Ross Bramwell, cuts ribbon.
Walk to Havelock Rd then to St Columba’s for morning tea.

Figure 11:   Something to he proud of. First to approve was Hettie and Cyril’s little dog ‘Bee’!

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Other issues

It is apparent from the SCHNEG minutes of that time that members of the group were concerned about the future of the trees which they had planted. The concerns of Mary Doyle residents, previously expressed to Bob Eyles, had become more pronounced. During the past three years the ‘Mary Doyle’ Retirement Village complex had purchased the old DSIR Orchard and villas had been erected right along the boundary fence next to the planting. A number of residents became upset when the growth of the trees began to obscure their view of the stream below. Similarly a number of totara planted close to the boundary began to shade the new villas. Jim Watt, who had succeeded Hettie as SCHNEG’s driving force, arranged a meeting with Mary Doyle residents with the result that Steve Cave subsequently came up with the compromise of a number of ‘sight lines’ being created through the trees. Some tall trees next to the fence were removed and later the aging[ageing]  walnut trees, once cherished by Gordon Hosking (DSIR) and others, were progressively felled. The possibility of having the area protected by a QE Trust covenant was raised but apparently not considered appropriate.

Another issue to be addressed at a meeting of the group on 30 August 2000 was the naming of the walkway. Two names were suggested Karamu Reach and Park’s Reach. The next record on this subject is of a meeting 27 June 2001 when the name “Park’s Reach 4” was agreed on and the secretary instructed to write to the Regional Council requesting that the walkway be named accordingly. The minutes of a meeting in October 2001 record receiving a letter from the Regional Council giving its approval for the naming of the walkway between the two bridges as Park’s Reach. The meeting warmly congratulated Hettie and Cyril on this well deserved recognition of their work.

While the vision had been achieved there was still much to be done, particularly in tending to the plantings while they were still young. It is recorded that Jean Campbell and Val Stent were still “down at the Karamu” at least once a week, and periodic working bees were required to ensure that the young plants could reach maturity. Initially these were supplemented with work by PD personnel. Long grass and weeds, particularly convolvulus, continued to be a problem.

But there was more help at hand. A group of younger energetic people had been attracted to the Karamu and offered to assist with care of the planting as well as its

4   Park’s Reach. A reference to Hettie and Cyril Park, and a play on the word ‘Reach’; as a noun meaning an open stretch of water especially on a river; and as a verb meaning to extend as far as possible. Collins Dictionary.

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expansion. They were welcomed with open arms. The years were catching up with many of the SCHNEHG members! With the support of the regional council a new group was finding its feet. The Karamu Enhancement Group (KEG) came formally into existence on 3 August 2010 in the J. Wattie Room of the Community Centre when ‘the baton was passed’ and Drew Broadley accepted a leading role. About the same time he also took up a staff position with the Regional Council, thus consolidating cooperative links between SCHNEHG and the Council.


Two decades of consolidation

A special occasion, and the last that was specific to Park’s Reach, was held on Saturday 13 June 2009. The near-completion of planting, the new Heritage Trail signage, and the formal naming of Park’s Reach were all acknowledged in a simple ceremony. Eileen von Dadelszen (Deputy Chair Regional Council) and Alan Dick completed the honours which were followed by the planting of two kahikatea by Hettie and Cyril Park. Afternoon Tea was later served at St Columba’s.

Figure 12:   Eileen von Dadelszen (Deputy Chair of the Regional Council) declares the name ‘Park’s Reach’ and lifts a cover from new Heritage Trail signage. 13 June 2009.

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Figure 13:   Two Kahikatea are planted to mark the naming. (Photo: Gareth White)

Figure 14:   Later the same day – Sir Rodney Gallen, Liz Remmerswaal, and Alan Dick at afternoon tea at St Columba’s. The presentation was to Lisa McGlinchy who was leaving the Council. She had been a key person in follow-up plantings including the riparian sedges.

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In an over-all review of the latter years, the following satisfactions are what SCHNEG and its supporters appreciate most:

Funding was formalised. The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC) established a Rate for all ratepayers to contribute to the restoration and enhancement of the banks of the Karamu Stream. This was crucial as much for the expansion of the restoration up and down stream, as for the maintenance, in-filling, and ‘weed proofing’ of Park’s Reach.

As a community project, the Park’s Reach project helped catalyse renewed regional interest in the Karamu catchment as a whole. In June 2004 the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council released a 391 page report prepared by its Environmental Management Group. 5 The overarching purpose of this report was “to provide comprehensive information about Te Karamu by summarising current knowledge and understanding of the drainage, flooding and ecosystem relationships in the catchment area. ” It was also a discussion document. Suffice it to say that this report serves as reference point for continuing positive initiatives. The possibility of a continuous corridor of native plantings from Pakipaki to Clive slowly looks more and more possible.

Another report from the Regional Council 6 acknowledges the work of SCHNEG by the following statement “Since the first coordinated planting at Havelock North in 1997, enhancement work has been initiated in other parts of the Karamu catchment from Whakatu (5km up stream from Waitangi Estuary) to Bridge Pa (35 km up steam and beyond. ” Such work includes further planting, by Council and KEG organised volunteers, along Park’s Reach and near Crosses Road, this finally completing the planting between the two bridges. The report goes on to say: “This strategy provides a vision (or tool box) to enable the Karamu Stream and its tributaries to be maintained as a highly valued asset to Hawke’s Bay. providing a vision for the balancing of values where grazing, native vegetation, and recreational areas support a rich and abundant ecosystem that is accessible and easily managed”.

Such a statement from the Regional Council would have been music to the ears of Hettie and Cyril Park and other SCHNEG members back in the ’90s.

5   Environmental Management Group Technical Report (Mike Adye). June 2004. Te Karamu – Catchment Review and Options for Enhancement. Hawke’s Bay Regional Council. Napier,

6   Te Karamu Enhancement. Review, and Management Strategy 2016-25. Report 296-081. Hawke’s Bay Regional Council. Napier.

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Park’s Reach keeps serving the community better as a recreational amenity combined with improved bio-diversity. Although only the south (true right) bank was planted by Operation Karamu, the aesthetics of the Reach were greatly enhanced. The mown berm is widely used by the pedestrian public. On the opposite bank a formed walk/cycle way also now links the two bridges. Entering from the formal entrance off Napier Road just downstream of the Crosses Road bridge it is possible to walk up one side of the stream, cross the river on the Havelock Road bridge, and return the other side achieving a 2 km round trip. In a few places some stretches remain wet for periods, so it is not yet fully accessible in all weathers. The loss of the aged elms, cottonwood, walnuts and poplars might be lamented, but the sedge-planted riparian border to the waterway, the mown floodway, and the native planting along the Mary Doyle boundary are all part of a more sustainable and bio-diverse system.

Work by Mary Doyle residents has seen two access ways established from their grounds down to the walkway. Agitation by them to reduce the shading of their villas has seen the removal of nearly all the walnut trees. This has resulted in a significant improvement in the vigour of the trees and shrubs nearby which had survived – as well as improving the light in the affected villas. The Mary Doyle folk also attest to an improved avifauna with up to 16 species of birds observed, and in much greater numbers. Good neighbours benefit each other.

Figure 15:   Some of the disputed walnut trees. Their shading effect on the newly finished houses behind can he appreciated.

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Epilogue: On reflection…

Maintaining the aesthetic appearance of the plantings has not been easy. While most of the plants survived, a number did not. The result is that some gaps have appeared. Natural attrition and gaps in the vegetation was somewhat accentuated by the large walnut trees, now mostly removed. Continued maintenance is necessary, at a high level, to control the long grass and weeds, and especially to prevent both convolvulus and blackberry from taking over. A drainage Issue has also to be resolved to ensure future pedestrian access for the full length.

On a more positive note, natural regeneration is taking place in those areas where young trees are able to establish themselves. This is most notable for those species which are “most at home” in this particular environment. However it may be unrealistic to think that such a narrow strip of native bush can be self sustaining indefinitely. Continued attention, including replacements will be necessary if it is to be maintained in an aesthetically pleasing state.

The age of plant establishment, on re-contoured and shaped surfaces, is over on Park’s Reach. A new age of infilling, replacement, gap filling, weed control, and good old TLC {tender loving care) lies ahead. Our batten is passed to a group of young enthusiasts – the Karamu Enhancement Group (KEG) – with great confidence.

Near Crosses Road, two young native kahikatea stand side by side, living memorials. ‘Thank you’ to Hettie and Cyril, for your vision, determination, and example. And a special Thank you’ and ‘Blessings’ to everyone who contributed in both large part and small. This publication makes the  record, and revives the memory of all that you did.

Photo caption – Figure 16:   Convolvulus strangling a large Hebe.

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Even a small booklet like this takes more than one person to make a good job of it. My thanks go to the following: Jim Watt for his initiation of, and enthusiasm for, the whole exercise and in particular for his layout and design: Eileen von Dadelszen and Steve Cave for their support and insights regarding the Regional Council in the early stages of the project; Rev. Bob Eyles for his useful comments and permission to include his sermon: and finally, to my wife Eunice, for her proofing and patience when things got a bit difficult.

John Gould.
April 2019.

Figure 16:   An autumn (2019} view looking downstream from the Havelock Road bridge. With the continued commitment of both Councils, a new amenity has been established. Contrast this photo with Figure I. The cycle path on the left side and the pedestrian access on the right provide a loop walk between the Havelock Road bridge and the Crosses Road bridge downstream. But please note that the official entrance to Park’s Reach, with parking, is located on Napier Road just downstream of the Crosses Road bridge. See End piece p36.

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Appendix 1:
Cyril Park’s map showing areas to be planted in 1998.

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Appendix 2:
Rev. Bob Eyles Sermon, 27 July 1997.
St Columba’s Havelock North.

Genesis 2: 4-8. Romans 8:18-25

“Reflection: You walk through Anderson Park and along the Karamu Stream- it is just as well you have good boots on because the pipe under the Havelock Bridge is still leaking and producing standing water and mud. The surface underfoot is soft and you notice the three or four centimetres of new sand trapped by the grass – sand that had been deposited by the stream during the two recent storms. You look up and see Mary Doyle Complex with its units built right to the boundary. You have talked to most of the occupants who look over the stream channel and you remember the apprehension and stress they are under. Several are retired farmers coming to town for the first time and are trying to come to terms with life in comfortable, yet restricted, houses and apartments. The old folk find change increasingly difficult, building is still going on around them and several are almost resentful that trees are to be planted which may obscure their view – you’ve negotiated several changed sites to please them.

You walk right along the old fence that had debris piled up against it in the recent floods; you lean on a post in the sun and pause to think. Why is it that the planting of a mere 25 Kowhai trees has evoked such a positive community response, and why in spite of 6 months frustrating work in getting the project approved have the spirits of your environmental group remained so high? You had to agree this project was the right one, you had ‘read up’ all you could about the Karamu, you had to find the right people in Regional and District government to talk to, you had to convince the engineers that the tree planting would not impede flood flows, you had to listen to councillors and write a the submission to the Regional Council’s Annual Plan and you had to make sure that the right people in the Havelock North community were involved: month after month the agenda of your environmental group meetings was taken up with this project – why had you persisted, why had planting a few native trees become so important in the face of huge global problems, why had the vision not become clouded, why had you not become discouraged?

You lean on the fence post and let your mind wander. Until 130 years ago where you are standing was on the bed of The Ngaruroro River. Maori canoes had long sailed along it and in the early years of Pakeha settlement boats had come from the mouth at Clive right up to this point. The Ngaruroro had, for thousands of years, built up the Heretaunga plains by depositing gravel, sand and silt. In the last century the river had looped around the eastern end of the plain to flow past what is now Havelock North.

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But then a huge flood had changed the course of the river, leaving the remnant stream the Maoris call “Karamu Waimate” a tiny stream in a huge river bed. Early Pakeha settlers had planted willows along the banks. Later the Catchment Board had cut out the willows and bought most of the Karamu’s bed from the settlers. Then, in the area where you are now standing, bulldozers had formed the shallow u shaped channel. The whole channel is designed to carry flood waters. The Karamu now functions as a huge drain.

The river’s life based on the bush, the swamp, native birds and fish has gone and you feel some regret and sadness, maybe you feel as the river feels? You recall Paul’s phrase as he describes “creation groaning” in his letter to the church in Rome. Then you realise that your vision of planting native trees will restore some life to the Karamu. Perhaps you are doing something that will allow the Karamu Stream to – again the words of Paul come to mind- ” to be set free from its slavery to decay to share in the glorious freedom of the children of God” Certainly you cannot restore the life the Karamu had for perhaps thousands of years, but you may be able to restore a little of that life – native trees will bring back the tui, the fantails and the wood pigeons; people will again notice the stream instead of just driving across it. They will walk along its banks and perhaps even kayak along it. The drain will again become a living entity, making a distinctive contribution to the complex life of Havelock North.

The holes have been dug and soon a crowd of people will appear and the children will plant the kowhai: the trees are much smaller than you thought they would be and they will be vulnerable to vandalism. It will take years before they will grow by themselves and will always be vulnerable to damage by antisocial louts. But isn’t that the way of love itself, always vulnerable, always liable to hurt and damage, but incredibly persistent. And isn’t it good that children will do the planting, children who preserve some of the innocence and idealism lost by most adults.

Your dreaming continues, you’ve never stood in exactly this spot before, seen this particular view or been part of this piece of land. You make a connection between a place, a piece of land, and an individual person. Each person is different, each person has abilities and potential, each person has a God given life to live. So it may be with each place, each place is unique each place has its particular character, each place may have a God given life to live, a life which makes its own special contribution to the life of the community, the ecosystem community in which it is set.

By reducing the Karamu to a mere floodway, a mere drain to be used for human purposes we may have denied its natural God-given life – a bit like cloning a sheep

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imposes the scientist’s will and agenda, and denies the sheep’s God-given right to be a sheep.

You drag yourself back to reality, this is wild stuff! You must not let your imagination run wild. What would people think if they knew?

But nevertheless, you realise something of why you have not become discouraged over the last few months. You have experienced something of what God goes through all the time in the life of this planet. God the Spirit of creative and healing love, continues to increase levels of giving, to increase interactions, harmony and complexity of life on this planet. And so anything that imposes the will of one species and diminishes the rights and contributions of other species of life, distresses God, and causes “creation to groan ” in pain and sadness. On the other hand, anything that increases diversity, restores an original balance, and stimulates the ecosystem of a place, evokes a deep spiritual response.

Perhaps that is why there has been such an over whelming response to your group’s invitation for people to attend the planting ceremony. Perhaps people, like God and creation itself, are groaning a pain that they only dimly recognise, pain that comes from reducing the diversity and quality of life on this planet. Perhaps that is why there will be so much joy in the planting of a few kowhai trees.

And you wonder if this is God’s way of reversing the degradation of natural systems that the aggressive human species is causing. Perhaps God’s spirit is touching people like you around the world and getting responses like your response, responses that will plant trees and will lead to a recognition that the true freedom, “the freedom of the children of God”, lies at being at one with Nature and being fully at home and fully part of the life of particular places – places like the Karamu. And you sense, as you walk back to your car. that for a few minutes, you have shared life with the Karamu Stream.”

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Appendix 3:
Invitation to the Opening on 30 July 1997. (Cyril Park).

St. Columba’s Havelock North Environmental House Group

Operation Karamu

You are invited to participate in a Tree-Planting Ceremony on the bank of the Karamu Stream

Place to congregate: On the grass berm beside the stream in the vicinity of the Havelock bridge.

When: 2p.m. Wed 30th July 1997

School pupils from Iona College and Havelock North Primary School will be planting 25 kowhai the first exciting steps of Operation Karamu.

We wish to share this celebration with as many Havelock North residents as possible. We thank those who have already offered help and hope that this is only the beginning of an exciting community project.

For more information –

Hettie – Cyril Park – 8775 165
Joan Bennett 8772 324

Bird Song at Karamu?

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Appendix 4:

The watering roster for the summer of 1998.


TOBY – EDGAR   DEC 21-27   8776-690 8778-930
JOHN – MARY BENSON   DEC 28-JAN 5   8776-543
CHARLES & CEES MAJOOR   JAN 6-12   8777-361 8777-289
HARRY – JEAN – HETTIE   JAN 13-19   8774-968
CYRIL W – FIONA – JOAN   JAN 20-26   8777-247 8772-324
ROB – DOUG   JAN 27-FEB 2   8778-114 8776-093
JIM – JEANETTE   FEB 3-9   8778-441 8778-508
JOHN – EUNICE GOULD   FEB 10-16   8778-142
HETTIE – CYRIL P – JEAN   FEB 17-23   8775-165 8777-473






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End piece:   The car-park and official entrance to Park’s Reach off Napier Road in Havelock North. Design and signage: Hawke’s Bay Regional and Hastings District Councils.



The concept and vision of Park’s Reach continues with intended extensions both upstream and downstream. This will eventually lead to a corridor of restored Karamu stream-bank that links Pakipaki and Clive. SCHNEG ‘passes the batten’ to the vigour of KEG (Karamu Enhancement Group) and the maintenance commitment of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council. We recommend the Reach as an ‘Outstanding Water Body’ in the context of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Resource Management Plan.

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Surnames in this booklet –
Adye, August, Bennett, Benson, Bowley, Bramwell, Buckland, Burns, Campbell, Crocket, Dick, Dodd, Dwyer, Eyles, Flashoff, Gallen, Gould, Grant, Griggs, Hapuku, Harvey, Hodge, Johnson, Lee, Majoor, McGlinchy, Mueller, Olsen, Park, Park, Person, Remmerswaal, Rewcastle, Ricketts, Sanderson, Slade, Stent, Tasman Smith, Thomsen, Thornburrow, Trask, Trigg, Van Asch, van de Mirk, von Dadelszen, Watt, Whitaker, White, Williams


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