Opened in 2010, The Kotukutuku Gully restoration is a product of countless hours of community volunteer effort. Through the vision and leadership of Maketu resident, Trevor Hughes, this historic spot has been returned to its natural beauty for the enjoyment of residents and visitors.
This gully, although steeped in history, was once an overgrown jungle and a dumping ground for car bodies and rubbish. It took a digger three days to clear it!
Life in the gully was very different eight centuries ago when Te Arawa people settled in Maketu. The gully was used for gardens. Rongoa (medicinal) plants were gathered and can still found here today. Hangi stones (earth ovens) as well as middens (shell waste) have also been unearthed here.
The ravine was a pathway to the estuary at Little Waihi in peace time. In times of conflict it was a way for Maori warriors to get behind their attacking enemy seeking to capture the pa (fortified village) on Okurei Point. It is believed to have been a birthing place for Te Arawa women, perhaps because of the hot water springs in the area.
The return of the gully to its natural beauty involved planting of over 2000 native flowering or berry bearing trees to form a ‘bird corridor’ along with a diverse range of flax and native bush. A few non-native fruit trees can be found for the enjoyment of those who stroll along the all-weather pathway.
The Kotukutuku Gully receives its name from the Kotukutuku tree which is being re-established in this beautiful natural walkway. A native to New Zealand, small flowers appear on the tree between August and December, and then change from greenish-yellow to purple-red. The flowers are rich in nectar and are visited by honey-eating birds, especially tui, bellbirds and silvereyes. The dark purple berries, known as konini by Maori, are edible and taste like tamarillos.
Come for a stroll through this peaceful area. There are 37 different native plants species here. Get off the pathway and browse at your leisure.