Along Wellington's south coast the damage from the severe storm becomes more evident as time passes. On the beach at Tarakena Bay the bent and skeletal looking remains of a taupata (Coprosma repens), festooned by dead seaweed and pale fibres from a grass or flax, reminds me of the ferocious winds and high seas. Amazingly there are a few tiny new green buds on this denuded shrub.
Since the storm legions of ghostly mounded shrub shapes seem to have taken over on the exposed hills. Above this beach is Rangitatau Reserve. It is named after a Ngai Tara pa (a Maori settlement, usually a fortified hillside one) that was on a headland, with another, Poito Pa, below it on a spur in the valley. There are tracks up the hillside, towards the pa sites. A little way up, I was able to see that the ghostly mounds were mostly mahoe - Melicytus ramiflorus, appropriately also called whitey-wood. It is a NZ native, a shrub or small tree with pretty bright green leaves - sadly missed at present.
This is a windswept site and from the pattern of damage you get a sense of the salty gales being funneled up the valley. The pale skeletons of the mahoe contrast with subdued greens and browns - less-damaged taupata (Coprosma repens), bracken, and other shrubs, and the wind-shredded strappy leaves of Cordylines and NZ flax. Although it was a grey and windy day, and although it looks quite bleak, I know that in a few months life will be springing back. But will the mahoe? Watch this space!