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Nelson’s Beloved Maitai / Mahitahi River Receives Funding Boost

Nelson City Council has been successful in its bid to the Jobs for Nature projects fund, receiving funding of $1.7 million to implement an Ecological Restoration Plan for the Maitai / Mahitahi River catchment ecosystem.

Jobs for Nature is a programme of work administered by the Ministry for the Environment, which seeks to address major environmental needs and create employment to stimulate New Zealand’s post-Covid economy. The Maitai River Ecological Restoration Plan is one of 23 council projects announced today by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern that will create over 2,000 jobs.

The Ecological Restoration Plan will see 125,000 plants go in the ground, 24 hectares of land managed for weed control and eight kilometres of riparian planting, as well as the development of wetlands and further improvement to habitats. This will further support and enhance all the excellent work already undertaken in the Maitai / Mahitahi catchment.

As a tūpuna awa, a sacred river, for generations the Maitai / Mahitahi has been an enviable source of water, food and wellbeing for iwi of this region. The river is of immense spiritual, traditional and historical significance to mana whenua.

The intended outcomes of the Restoration Plan include:

  • 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 Maitai / Mahitahi Valley
  • the development of a food corridor that will support movement of native bird species across the Nelson region, from the mountains to the sea


Mayor Rachel Reese says the funding will support the continued restoration of the treasured river, at the same time as creating 30 jobs in the conservation/restoration sector over 5 years.

“The Maitai / Mahitahi River flows through the lives of Nelsonians – it is entwined with who we are and how we live in this city. What could be better than the people of Nelson working on a project to give this beautiful river even greater care and attention. I know these jobs will be highly valued and those working will also have the satisfaction of mahi that will make a real difference to the environment.” 

Mayor Reese says this funding injection will provide a huge opportunity to accelerate work that the Council already had planned and progresses the objectives of National Policy Statements for Freshwater Management and Indigenous Biodiversity. 

Council has been working in partnership for many years now with Te Tau Ihu iwi, the community and key agencies in the region to continually improve the health of the Maitai/Mahitahi River. The overarching aim is to create a river this is safe to swim in and take kai from, and is a place that everyone can enjoy and feel proud of.

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