The Maraetōtara Falls, about 15 minutes’ drive from Havelock North via Waimarama Road, have been described as one of Hastings’ most beautiful natural treasures, a hidden gem.
The falls are a popular place to visit, particularly during the summer months when a cool dip in the pool below provides welcome relief on seemingly endless, blissfully hot days. The reserve is about 1 km long with the picturesque waterfall at the top end and you can follow the Maraetōtara Historic Walk to discover what remains of the abandoned Havelock North Power Station at the other.
It’s a great place to bring the family and enjoy a picnic, but visitors are advised not to leave valuables in their cars.
This weeks’ Walkabout provides an opportunity to highlight the achievements of the volunteers, past and present, who have been involved with improving the water quality, eco-system and biodiversity of the Maraetōtara River.
There are many voluntary organisations in Hawke’s Bay working hard to improve the environment, but a stand-out has to be the Maraetōtara Tree Trust.
The Trust was formed in 2002 with a vision to restore the Maraetōtara River and replant its margins to create a lush corridor of native trees along its length, enhancing the ecosystem and establishing permanent reserved habitats for regenerating plants, birds and wildlife.
The river had been degraded by livestock and farming pollution, willow tree infestation and a general lack of care and protection. This degradation was reversed in under 10 years thanks to the dedicated efforts of the Trust, including fencing and willow removal in partnership with the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and participating landowners. Supported by donors, sponsors and volunteers, up to 15,000 native trees have been planted every year since 2003. That’s quite an achievement.
The vision is well on its way to being realised and last year, the Trust’s Maraetōtara River Regeneration Project won the top award, The Jeremy Dwyer Award for Excellence, at the Hastings District Council’s Landmarks Trust Award’s evening.
Most of the trees are grown from seed or cuttings gathered from the river valley or its adjacent conservancy and the project is also regularly assisted by various community groups, schools, marae and others.
Recent chairman and long-serving Trustee, Pat Turley, confirmed that the restoration programme is an on-going success by saying, “The river and its corridor have never looked better and of 86 kms both sides, 54 kms have now been completed”.
Aware that a lot more work still lies ahead, Pat acknowledged the efforts of a committed Board of Trustees, supporters and hardworking volunteers.
More information at: www.maraetotaratreetrust.co.nz
Photos: Ashley Clapperton (waterfall) and Simon Cartwright.