Offered :

2022 Term 2 (May-June) and 2022 Term 4 (October-December).

Date & Time:

Our 2022 Term 4 course meets on Fridays from 1:00-3:00pm beginning on 21 October 2022 and runs for 8 consecutive weeks.

Description :

This eight-week course, co-organised by both EarthDiverse and Tītoki Landcare, continues the lifelong work of George Lusty who created this course in early 2021and carries on his legacy. It is good for people of all levels of previous experience. A general level of fitness is recommended. We visit gullies to examine geological, climate and biological histories as well as various theories of forest restoration. Various environmental areas will be discussed within the context of important local initiatives. Participants learn to identify various ecological areas, native and exotic plants, as well as various local animal species. We also discuss and practice various methods of native forest restoration in each gully. Join our class for theoretical and practical explorations of how to improve our environment and our way of life. Please note that this course is offered as an in-person, Hamilton-based course only. There is no Zoom component. All classes will meet in the various Hamilton gully systems.


For each gully visit, please wear sun protection, sturdy footwear, long trousers or leggings, and long sleeves as protection against minor cuts and scratches. We will adapt to the conditions as needs be and as safety permits but we go rain, hail or shine so bring wet weather gear as necessary (an umbrella is ideal if we’re not on the tools!). If we are on the tools, you will need a robust pair of gardening gloves or riggers…we’ll try to supply most of the tools but a gardening pouch or bag with a pair of secateurs, a trowel and a scraping tool would be handy.

Meet our Instructors

Director and Operations Manager, Titoki Landcare Nathan Smith

Nathan has more than 25 years of experience in ecological restoration and consulting. Nathan moved to New Zealand from his native Sydney in 2016 and has since worked as an ecological consultant, guided by a desire to deliver enhanced biodiversity outcomes, especially for remnant forest stands, throughout the country. Since arriving in Hamilton, he has been heavily involved in Significant Natural Area assessments in various districts, desktop vegetation mapping validation (GIS), Environmental Benefit Lots (EBLs) and Kahikatea Green Wheel assessments (condition assessment methodology used in the Waikato for kahikatea remnants). Prior to moving to the Waikato, Nathan worked as a restoration ecologist in Australia, including eight years in the bush regeneration industry. From 2003, Nathan was primarily engaged as a consultant developing management plans for mine-site rehabilitation and offset sites. Nathan was an accredited BioBanking Assessor in NSW (biodiversity offset method) and is a member of the Society for Ecological Restoration (Australasia) and the Australian Association of Bush Regenerators.

Restoration Ecologist / Lead – Vegetation Surveys, Research Briar Taylor-Smith, PhD

Restoration Ecologist / Lead – Vegetation Surveys, Research Briar is an experienced terrestrial ecologist with a broad range of skills and experience. Since completing a PhD in 2015 investigating ground wētā distribution and diversity across New Zealand, she has worked as a field botanist for the Department of Conservation and a consultant ecologist before joining the ecological restoration team at Tītoki Landcare. Briar has extensive experience with vegetation surveying around the North Island, including forest and wetland plots, wetland delineations, and biosecurity monitoring of kauri dieback and myrtle rust. She has also worked with a wide range of fauna including invertebrates, bats, Powelliphanta snails, birds, lizards, and invasive newts. Since 2017, Briar has been restoring her own gully within the Chedworth gully system in Hamilton, and has incorporated her passion for ecological restoration into her work since joining Tītoki Landcare. Get in touch with Briar if you have any queries relating to vegetation surveys, ecological research projects, and/or ecological mapping.

Instructor Maxine Fraser, B.A., Dip Tchg [Auckland], Dip LIS [London]

After growing up on a King Country farm, Maxine studied at Auckland University and enjoyed tramping in New Zealand forests. She returned from travel through Europe, the Middle East & Asia, and qualified as a science librarian, before settling in the Waikato. She and scientist husband Tony Fraser covenanted a tract of nikau-rimu forest with the QE II Trust on a hill country block near Mount Pirongia. Quick-growing native shrubs were used as shelter, shade & fodder for their grazing animals. Their home orchard was run on the lines of a forest garden, with beehives, weaving materials & bird habitat. Tony, with Maxine’s support, started the group Tui 2000 in 1989, & ran regular gully bus tours around Hamilton. After his death, she returned to the city, where she has been restoring her own gully, & working voluntarily in the Mangaiti Gully with Rex Bushell and the Mangaonua system with George Lusty. From 2004, she has worked as a weedbuster in Claudelands Bush, regularly planting & weeding in the Waiwhakareke Reserve, and potting & weeding at the Tamahere/WERT native plant nursery. Over the years, Maxine has been inspired by conservation concepts and tree cropping. Together, they provide ecological services for the planet and habitat for us living creatures.

Week 1: Claudelands Bush

Friday 21 October 2022

Why restore forests? – What is the aim? – Reference sites – Ecosystem condition and resilience (SSCTCC) – Forest succession – different perspectives and competing paradigms. Tour and discussion of the history, ecology and regeneration of Claudelands Bush. Meet at the Settlement Centre carpark off Boundary Road. Bring a note pad!

Week 2: Hammond Park

Fri 28 Oct 2022

The Flora of Aotearoa (native vegetation and flora) – plant ID, forest and other ecosystem types, plant niches and succession, island biogeography, evolutionary history of NZ flora. Hammond Park. Meet opposite 58 Malcolm Street, Riverlea. Bring a note-pad and a hand lens!

Week 3: WERT community nursery

Fri 4 Nov 2022

Seed collection and propagation – Waikato Ecological Restoration Trust (WERT) community nursery, 284 Airport Road, Rukahia. Bring your gardening gloves!

Week 4: Mangaonua Esplanade

Fri 11 Nov 2022

What is a weed? – Ecosystem disturbance – Life stages and reproductive strategies – Key weed threats – Ecosystem transformers v. background weeds – Garden plants and ornamentals – The forest garden – Nurse crops and native weeds native weeds. Meet at Mangaonua Esplanade, opposite 11 Silverdale Road, Silverdale by the picnic table. Bring your gardening gloves!

Week 5: Mangaonua Esplanade

Fri 18 Nov 2022

Weed management (doing and recording) – Scale, scope and prioritising work – Bradley Method – Integrated Pest Management (seasonality, life histories and bio-control) – Effective weed management techniques – herbicides and spraying. Meet at Mangaonua Esplanade, opposite 11 Silverdale Road, Silverdale by the picnic table. Bring your gardening gloves!

Week 6: Rotopiko, Ohaupo

Fri 25 Nov 2022

Vertebrate pest management – Meet at Lake Rotopiko, State Highway 3, Ohaupo. Some doing, mostly theory. Bring a note pad!

Week 7: Waiwhakareke Reserve

Fri 2 Dec 2022

Planting – successional planting (starting a forest from scratch) – enrichment planting (improving species richness) – right plant for the right place (replicating vegetation types, open areas, shady areas, moist areas, wet feet) – functional planting– how to plant a plant successfully! Meet at Hamilton Zoo for a tour of Waiwhakareke. Bring a note pad!

Week 8: Mangaonua Esplanade

Fri 9 Dec 2022

Other aspects of site management – site assessment and planning a project, track construction and maintenance, erosion and sediment control, managing threatened biodiversity, performance evaluation and monitoring, community engagement and volunteering. Meet at Mangaonua Esplanade, opposite 11 Silverdale Road, Silverdale by the picnic table. Bring your gardening gloves and note pad!


Various Hamilton gully systems.

As this is a practical course, it is delivered entirely on-site.  Students are expected to make their own way to the various gullies, all of which are in Hamilton Kirikiriroa.
More detailed instructions and notes will be provided by email at the time.

Distance-Learning :

This course has no distance-learning component and meets in person only.

Distance-Learning Options:

This is an in-person class only and meets in Hamilton. There is no distance learning option for this course.

Pricing options

Cost per person per Term (8 classes). Unwaged includes students, seniors and retirees. Group invoicing is available: please contact: [email protected] if you wish to enrol several members of your team.


Any Term course can be taken independently of the others, and there are no prerequisites for any of the Term courses. This course has no assignments, required readings, quizzes, tests or exams. All classes encourage questions and group discussion. Copies of any course materials are posted on the course page on our website. There are no refunds for missed classes. Guests of registered participants are welcome to attend a single class at no charge. Certificates of Completion for any particular Term Course or Series are available for Professional Development purposes upon request at the end of each Term or Series.

Prerequisites :

There are no prerequisites for this course.

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