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Maraetotara River, Hawke’s Bay

The Maraetotara River in Hawkes Bay received a major makeover in 2016, as part of the Hawke’s Bay’s Cape to City project, working in conjunction with Hohepa Homes, local community groups, marae, schools and the Maraetotara Tree Trust. Trees that Count provided the funding to plant 5,000 locally sourced native trees, including kowhai, cabbage, kanuka and manuka, as part of the project. 

The Cape to City ecological restoration project is a partnership between Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HRBC), DOC, Cape Sanctuary, Landcare Research, iwi, and various landowners and businesses. 

The five year project envisions a mostly restored Maraetotara River; a 43 km bird corridor which connects the ‘footprint’ of Havelock North, Cape Kidnappers, Waimarama and Kahuranaki The Maraetotara is the only river system connecting the city and the cape in the region. This long term restoration effort has seen Cape to City plant 50,000 natives in the area this year, helping to restore the river, and create a native sanctuary that allows plants and bird life to flourish.  

For their part, the Maraetotara Tree Trust annually plants around 4500 native trees, but as a result of partnering with HBRC and locals the number will increase to at least 13,000 in 2016. 

A local contractor was employed to plant the 5000 native trees. Hetty McLennan, HBRC Land Management Advisor and Cape to City Habitat Workstream Lead, says this will go a long way to “getting the habitat sorted”. 

On a broader level McLennan wants to see “native species thrive where we live, work and play”. This means minimising predator numbers, maintaining linkages in green corridors of the area, and improving water quality.  

Ultimately, the vision is to create a native sanctuary to allow reintroduction of birds to the wetlands areas of the river. Robin and tomtit have already been reintroduced and the plans have been laid for kiwi and whio (blue ducks) to join them in the near future, so “providing a suitable habitat is crucial”.