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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 5. 1965.

Taurewa Station Successful

Taurewa Station Successful

That pleasure and business can be mixed has been proven by Victoria botany students. Combining book-lore with practical field work, tackling odd jobs and renovations, and relaxing at night around the fire with guitar and song-book has proved a very successful venture.

Purchased in 1963, the Taurewa field station, about nine miles from the Chateau, is being converted from an old saw-mill camp to a useful home away from home. Leaky roofs, rotting timber, rusted wood range, broken glass, and torn wallpaper have gradually been replaced and cleaned up by student working parties and local labour.

The cookhouse, with dormitory accommodation, serves as a nucleus for the various activities. During study trips the dining-room is used as a laboratory, complete with microscopes and small reference library The table-tennis table is often hidden by plant collections, and meal times provide a great deal of fun as space is competed for at the trestle tables with precious specimens.

Several cottages, and a lecture hall with a capacity for over one hundred, are being tidied up. A pelton wheel-driven generator supplies electric power, and water is reticulated throughout the site from a tank, gravity fed by a dam.

The caretaker. Mr. Konui, is able to supply much valuable Maori bush lore, and the area is of historical interest with Te Kooti's last stand redoubt within walking distance.

The 78-acre site leased from Land and Survey and Forestry Service Departments is unique as a centre of botanical interest. It encompasses the widest possible range of different botanical zones. Tussock, scrub and forest, untouched, or regenerating after milling or burning, is within easy walking distance. The eradication of introduced weeds—Scottish heath, broom, lupin, blackberry, pine—can be studied as well a New Zealand's age-old forestry problem of deer, pig, opossum and rabbit.

The encroaching forest provides protection to a suitable planting area for locally collected flora which will be an invaluable addition to university collections. Cultivation, however, will be kept to a minimum as the main advantage of the project is the study of the existing vegetation in its natural environment.

The students not only collect and study plants of scientific or timber interest but look for the quaint and unusual. Some have been successful in finding vegetable caterpillars (mokoroa) in which the insect is completely replaced internally by fungal tissue. Others have found the "wooden flower" tree root parasite, Dactylanthus (Pua o te Reinga).

Seventy students spent a fortnight last May studying the fungi of the area. A knowledge of rusts, smuts, mildews and plant diseases has importance for agricultural application. There is also much to be learnt from the local geography, geology and zoology, of benefit to those also studying these subjects. It is hoped that other universities, and training colleges will make use of the facilities.

National Park station serves as rail terminus for large field parties (second and third year students) but the smaller working groups travel from Wellington in the department's "Elephant"—a three-ton canopied truck.

A group visits the station at least once every university break under the supervision of Dr. J. G. Gibbs who envisaged and negotiated the scheme. As a meeting centre for representatives of the various sciences, with access to unlimited natural material, it has great potential. Both students and staff are becoming more and more enthusiastic as it grows and shows the rewards of there ambitious endeavours.—D.R.L.