Project Overview

Introduction | MTT River Restoration Project

The Maraetōtara Tree Trust is a partnership between the 2002 formed conservation Trust, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and very generous Valley Landowners, who agree to permanently covenant private farmland riparian margins.

Planting native trees offers many benefits for all New Zealanders.  We know that it is possible to manage planted indigenous trees to improve biodiversity, protect riparian areas, and improve water quality, to enhance the landscape and store carbon. 

In partnership with the Regional Council since 2002, Maraetōtara Tree Trust is progressively removing willows, fencing off covenanted 5-15m riverside margins and planting these with native trees that are predominately grown from seed or cuttings gathered from the river valley by MTT (eco-source plants are substantially preferred).

The Trust founders 2002 vision remains to establish a lush corridor the full length of the Maraetōtara River (since 2002 ~37 kilometres is reserved and planted).  The project’s aims include to improve the ecosystem and to establish permanent reserved habitats for regenerating native plants, birds and wildlife. 

Maraetōtara River previously suffered degradation from livestock pollution, willow tree infestation, and a general lack of care and protection of river margins.  The waterway’s degradation was reversed in under 10-years.

The project continues successfully led by Maraetōtara Tree Trust volunteers. Seedlings propogation, planting and ongoing trees aftercare is funded by chartiable donations, and grants gained by MTT people. The project is also regularly assisted by voluntary work in the river by various community groups, schools, farmers from the valley and others.

Team | Mar 10

Maraetōtara Tree Trust is a registered charity formed in 2002 CC23200 with the purpose: to protect and enhance, and restore all 43 kilometres (86 kilometres both sides), of the Maraetōtara River stretching from its headwaters at the top of the Maraetōtara Valley to its Pacific Ocean outflow to Hawke Bay at Te Awanga beach.

This has to be a good thing for everyone!


Alec Olsen | Chair’s Update March 2013

The Maraetōtara Tree Trust project was ten years old in December 2012!

While previous updates have focussed on the day by day work and challenges of reorganising our spirited river, this is a time to take a breath and look back at the decade since the Trust’s formation in 2002.

In the words of Dr Seuss’s Lorax, If someone doesn’t care a whole awful lot, nothing’s going to get better, it’s not!

A man called John Scott cared a whole awful lot about the Maraetōtara River and the critters therein. He was, and is, an enthusiastic fresh water angler and a passionate defender of the natural environment.

In 2002 John Scott gathered together a diverse group of people who broadly shared his vision of a healthier river, people who represented Forest & Bird, local iwi, agriculture, and the legal profession. They were largely unknown to each other, but became firm friends as they settled into their roles as foundation trustees of the Maraetōtara Tree Trust. Their common bond was simply their love of trees and clean water, and their track records of doing something about it. Andy Lowe officiated as the legal settlor, and has been a friend of the Trust ever since.

John also gathered the support and partnership of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, which has been pivotal in supplying the financial and physical grunt to remove the willows and organise the fencing and covenanting of the private land adjacent to the river.

Nothing could have happened without the generous cooperation of the landowners who farm next to the river. While true that not all could immediately see benefits in losing their river margins to trees, the now visible examples of riparian protection demonstrate the positive possibilities of change. Of the river’s total length of 43 km more than a 40% (~37km) is now fenced and planted or currently being prepared. I believe that this is a wonderful achievement and a real tribute to John Scott and the original trustees and office holders.

Change is a constant in our lives and certainly true for our Trust. Over the decade people in our team have come and gone, leaving their mark in all manner of ways.  We are very grateful to them all. Our latest change is seeing Warwick Hesketh, our very effective HBRC coordinator, promoted slightly out of our reach. However his replacement comes to us with an excellent pedigree in things environmental. We welcome Hetty McLennan to our team, and sincerely thank Warwick for his diligence, diplomacy and devotion to the Maraetōtara River.

Protecting and planting our river from top to bottom was never going to be a quick fix. I imagine that there will still be work to be done in fifty or a hundred year’s time.  Many more people will come and go, but with the first decade behind us I can assure you that the original dream is alive and well.

Alec Olsen | MTT Chair | 2009-present