New website showcases University Reserves

11 February 2014
Uni Reserves pic - Cate Macinnes-Ng-400px

Did you know that the University of Auckland owns or manages land at Anawhata, Ardmore, Huapai, Oratia, Waiheke and Leigh that is available for research and teaching?  The six University Reserves range from a working winery to a kauri forest, and a new website aims to raise awareness of the opportunities they offer to researchers, teachers and students.

“The reserves are a unique asset for teaching and research opportunities,” says Cate Macinnis-Ng (pictured), School of Environment Senior Research Fellow and chairperson of the 12-member University Reserves Advisory Group. “No other university in New Zealand has reserves with the same ecosystems, so we set up the website to showcase them.”

The best-known is the Leigh Marine Laboratory, which sits at the edge of the popular Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve 100 km north of Auckland.

Anawhata Reserve, at White’s Beach in west Auckland, is 7 ha of regenerating coastal forest that contains a rare kowhai. It has been the site of botanical and algal studies.

Ardmore Field Station, south Auckland, is 10.5 ha of pastoral land used for meteorological, atmospheric and radio research in addition to hosting engineering and environmental science experiments.

Goldies Homestead on Waiheke is a working winery – Goldie Wines – and home to re-vegetated land and preserved wetlands.

Huapai Reserve, at Kauri Cres in west Auckland, is 15 ha of kauri forest, mature kānuka scrub, and areas of taraire, rewarewa and podocarps.  It’s significant, says Dr Macinnis-Ng, “as it was at Huapai that tree-ring research using cores from kauri tree trunks established the potential of kauri as a climate proxy.” The size of growth rings changes according to climatic conditions, she says, and the data collected from long-lived kauri has made a major contribution to the most important tree-ring dating and climate-change dataset in the southern hemisphere. Huapai has also hosted research on millipedes, ants, possums, beetles, nīkau palms and litter fall. 

Oratia Reserve, at Kellys Rd, west Auckland, is 9.5 ha of kauri forest, podocarp and broadleaf species. It’s home to several regionally-important species, among them ancient ferns, orchids and pines. It has been used for research into kauri, moss, and invertebrates. 

The reserves have either been gifted to the university or bought, and all but one is managed by the university. 

Huapai and Oratia are most often used for teaching, says University Reserves coordinator Dr Joanne Peace, an ecologist. You’ll see climate and hydrology students at Huapai, and at both Huapai and Oratia, students of entomology and plant diversity collect samples for lab exercises. Land around the Leigh Marine Laboratory is also used for landscape and restoration ecology courses.

However, the reserves are open for uses beyond science, says Dr Macinnis-Ng. “It would be great to find people from other fields who are interested in using the reserves – they are a resource for all University of Auckland academics and potential collaborators from here and elsewhere.”

For more information, email Reserves Co-ordinator Dr Joanne Peace: reserves@auckland.ac.nz