Nelson City Council has previously worked on the restoration of water quality and stream health through its community-focussed Project Maitai/Mahitahi and Healthy Streams work programmes.
Project Mahitahi builds on work that landowners in the catchment and the wider community have been doing for many years, with funding of $1.7 million from Ministry for the Environment to implement an ecological restoration plan for the Maitai catchment, and $2 million from the Department of Conservation Kaimahi for Nature fund – the project is the first in the country to be granted this funding through a regional alliance involving councils and iwi.
Over five years Project Mahitahi will provide local employment opportunities as part of the COVID-19 recovery, plant 125,000 trees including Taonga species, restore 1.3 hectares of wetlands and carry out pest plant control in the Maitai/Mahitahi and Brook Waimarama catchment. The ecological restoration plan for the project has the following goals:
- enhanced water quality
- a reduction in weeds that will help to reduce the spread of invasive plant species across a wider area
- habitat improvement
- the preservation of indigenous tree and plant species, some of which are found only in the Mahitahi (Maitai) Valley
- the development of a food corridor that will support the movement of native bird species across the Nelson region
- benefits for taonga species such as kōura/freshwater crayfish, tuna/eels, inanga/native fish
The planting work will be delivered through a combination of contractor planting as well as planting projects in collaboration with community partners including the Cawthron Institute and Friends of the Maitai.