The area around Pukerua Bay was originally covered by dense bush, most of which was cleared until the 1920s for farming. As more and more farming land was subdivided into residential sections, by the 1960s, the amount of native plantings actually increased again as native shrubs and trees were planted in gardens and along roads.
Today, most of Pukerua Bay seems to be tucked into native bush, typically comprised of manuka, kanuka, mahoe, ngaio, karaka and kohekohe, and an under-storey of kawakawa and ferns. Mature pohutukawa trees, not native to this area, can also be found throughout Pukerua Bay and line some stretches of State Highway 1.
Restoration efforts are continuing to turn the gullies of the local streams back into their original flora, which would have included nikau and tree ferns. The coastal cliffs and hillsides are dominated by taupata and pohuehue.
Birds and land animals in and around Pukerua Bay
Until the early 20th century, Little Blue Penguins were a common sight on the coast around Pukerua Bay. Bird life was abundant, although the progressive clearing of native bush for farming took its toll. Rabbits were so common, weekend visitors were encouraged by farmers to shoot and take some with them.
Today, Pukerua Bay has a relatively high proportion of bush throughout its residential area, which is used for breeding and a major food source by native birds such as kereru, tui, fantail and silvereye. Warblers, kakariki, kaka and robins have also been spotted, as Pukerua Bay lies in the flight path of birds coming to the mainland from Kapiti Island. Morepork can be heard most nights.
Pukerua Bay is also home to significant populations of native skinks.
The rocky areas around the beaches are an ideal habitat for rock lobsters and reef fish such as blue moki, snapper, stingray and eagle ray. The rocks are also home to paua, kina, and many other animals including sea stars and crabs of all sizes. Other fish found off the coast of Pukerua Bay include marblefish, red moki, banded wrasse and kahawai.
From 2002 onwards (apart from a 6 months lapse early 2007) the coastal area around Pukerua Bay has been protected under the Pukerua Bay Rahui, as a result of years of community discussion and consultation by Ngati Toa, in association with the Pukerua Bay Residents' Association. This has been successful in leading to a recovery of the local marine environment. The community is currently pursuing options for longer term marine protection - see Pukerua Bay Rahui proposal (685kB PDF).
Pukerua Bay School is a designated Enviro School. It's community shade house is used in conjunction with Nga Uruora as a nursery for growing native plant seedlings on compost produced by the school's worm farm. In 2006, a walking school bus was introduced and the school's pupils also participate in several other environmental initiatives.
Waimapihi Stream Project
In 1992, local resident Tony Jackman took the initiative to restore the Waimapihi Stream gully (Takutai Road Reserve), also known as the Secret Valley (Kōawa Ngaro), from a dumping ground back to its native state so that Waimapihi Stream could be brought back to full health.
With the help of Keep Porirua Beautiful, PCC, the local school, several other organisations and clubs, and the wider Pukerua Bay community, literally tons of rubbish were removed from the gully, invasive weeds were cleared and tracks with board walks and small bridges constructed.
Native seedlings were planted and Ngati Toa helped move flaxes in the way of the nearby SH1 roading upgrade into the reserve. Gradually, the stream was nursed back to health and became again the habitat of eels, banded and orange-back kokopu, and koura. The native trees and shrubs as well as the birdlife are now thriving and an education centre provides shelter and can be used as an outdoor education classroom.
The Secret Valley is also home to several sculptures of local artists - see Local Artists for more details.