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Award Recognises Hawke’s Bay’s River Team Maraetōtara Tree Trust

The renewal of a Hawke’s Bay river has been recognised with a national award.

The Maraetōtara Tree Trust has won second place in the Supreme Award category of the 2021 Cawthron New Zealand River Awards.

The Awards celebrate the efforts and achievements of people who are committed to improving freshwater health in Aotearoa.

The Supreme Award's title is Catchment with Most Progress Toward River Health in New Zealand.

The Maraetotara Tree Trust started planting the Maraetotara River 19 years ago that is 86 km both sides with 38 kms since reserved and planted.

The river was degraded from livestock pollution, the invasion of weed species, river blockages by willows, soil erosion and river silting, and the loss of biodiversity.

This degradation was reversed in under 10 years, thanks to the trust’s fencing, willow removal (in partnership with the regional council) and replanting of native trees.

The Trust’s vision is a lush corridor the full 43 km length of the river, from its Maraetōtara headwaters to its Te Awanga rivermouth, hosting a diverse ecosystem.

Annually, an area of 2.5 hectares is planted, requiring 10,000 trees and flaxes now totalling 38 kms of river margins reserved and planted with over 170,000 native trees.

The Hawkes Bay Regional Council removes the willows from the riverbanks, helps with the fencing and, more latterly, has required landowners to prepare erosion control plans in conjunction with the Council.

"Recognition in such an important national award is a real thrill," Maraetōtara Tree Trust board chairman Richard Stone said.

"The $3000 prize will buy a lot of trees for the river, but the award is also terrific recognition for the many teams that have come together to make this project work: landowners, community groups, iwi, businesses, the Regional Council and many private supporters and sponsors”.

"We still have a lot of work to do but this jewel-of-a-river is already revived with beautiful stretches resounding with birdlife and the native fish are coming back.

"It is truly a team effort from so many people and their hard work will stay in place so future generations can also marvel at our watery jewel."

Project original sponsor since 2006 Turley & Co director and prior chair Pat Turley says “the award and recognition is a coup for probably the longest running project of its type and possibly the only whole river project in NZ.”

David Trubridge design has been a permanent sponsor for 7 years. Unison Networks is project principal partner since 2019, and Water Testing Hawke’s Bay joined more recently.

The Maraetotara River Catchment is 150 sq km dominated by sheep and cattle farming, with little forestry and no dairying.

There are native bush remnants scattered across the catchment, mainly in gorges but also on the high plateau in the hinterland.

Winner of the Supreme Award was the Manawatū River Leaders’ Accord, which comprises more than 34 key stakeholder groups including iwi, local government, and industry.

© Scoop Media

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