The kānuka/mānuka bush on the western headlands of Matiatia was cleared in the mid 19th century by Māori landowners, to supply Auckland with firewood. The cleared land was converted to sheep farms.
In the 1990s, when the Matiatia and Church Bay subdivisions occurred, a big part of the consent to do this was to allow public walking tracks (like this one) and restore much of the land with re-vegetation of native plants.
You can see a successional pattern happening in the trees again in the Matiatia Valley.
It’s a three-step process. First, get the ground covered – by thickly planting mānuka and kānuka, to shade out the invasive kikuyu grass. Then within the new bush, plant the canopy species that will break through, and eventually dominate the forest. Birds returning and feeding on these trees will distribute seeds to complete the re-building of the forest.
This human-induced process speeds up the natural re-growth of a forest. In years to come, there will be magnificent forests, surrounding the homes on these headlands.
This cycle of forest clearance to farmland, then returning selected areas to native bush, has also happened in most of New Zealand.