This 4ha (10 acres) of public Reserve on the northern side of Waiheke Island between Oneroa and Palm Beach had been a neglected pine forest since the 1950s.  Following a report condemning hundreds of trees, 40 nearby residents organised their removal in 2005.

They have since built over 2 km of walking tracks that criss-cross the Reserve and have planted more than 10,000 native plants and trees, creating a verdant oasis and helping to restore this strategically-located land to its former beauty. 

With a pest-control programme also in place, the Reserve is now seeing the return of many native birds.

These enthusiastic residents have in turn organised around 500 volunteers who participate in regular working bees for planting and track work. This has been carried out through a unique partnership with Auckland Council, who own McKenzie Reserve.  Auckland Council has provided consultation, materials and plants to assist the locals on this project and helped to co-ordinate and support the restoration of the Reserve.

The Hauraki Gulf Conservation Trust was invited by The Friends of McKenzie Reserve to assist their restoration work through funding applications to various organisations for grants.

To date, the Trust has helped secure over $75,000 for use in restoring this strategic public asset for the enjoyment of local residents and visitors to the island.

In 2012, a grant from the ASB Community Trust enabled the formation of an educational hub. The hub is centred in an area where there are a number of tall stumps of the former pine trees, with the idea that these are a visual reminder of what used to be there. The formation of the hub includes the installation of recycled power poles which is in keeping with the Friends sustainability goals.

Educational signage has been wrapped around the power poles and cover conservation and educational themes such as:

  • the process of re-vegetation within specific ecosystems
  • before/after/during the transformation…the story behind the Reserves
  • it’s a people thing: how a few people can make a huge environmental difference within the community
  • bird life – what there is and what it is hoped to attract with planting and pest controllingthe creation of a rich native forest and identification of plant species

Public access into the Reserve has been upgraded and a link provided to the educational hub. The link connects into other walkways within the Reserve. The public access, link and area surrounding the education hub have been extensively planted.  Scattered along the tracks are six unique log ‘lift up’ interactive signs for children that provide details about the creatures found in the Reserve.

The community now has access to an area of regenerating native bush and educational context that reminds everyone of the transformations that are possible with dedication, will and financial support.

The Hauraki Gulf Conservation Trust intends to maintain a long-term relationship with McKenzie Reserve to see the completion of the restoration works being carried out in accordance with the plan developed by Friends of McKenzie Reserve and Auckland City.

In 2015 the third 5 year project Plan was presented.Regular working bees for weeding, mulching, planting and pest control and fund raising activities have continued totalling over 500 volunteer hours.

The need for funds and volunteer help to continue the restoration programme is ongoing, so if you can assist as a volunteer or donor, please contact Penny Ericson at and we will help you get involved.

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