Project Mahitahi Logo

What is Project Mahitahi?

Project Mahitahi is a ground-breaking collaborative effort to restore the ecosystem of the Maitai/Mahitahi Valley:

The Mauri (or life force) of the Mahitahi is restored- ki uta ki tai – so that native plants and wildlife can thrive within a functioning and connected eco-system and people and communities are inspired to nurture and value the Mahitahi as a taonga for past, present, and future generations.

Project Mahitahi has funding of $1.7 million from Ministry for the Environment to implement an ecological restoration plan for the Maitai catchment, and $2 million from the Department of Conservation Kaimahi for Nature fund.

Over five years Project Mahitahi will provide local employment opportunities as part of the COVID-19 recovery, plant 125,000 trees including Taonga species, restore 1.3 hectares of wetlands and carry out pest plant control in the Maitai/Mahitahi and Brook Waimarama catchment. The ecological restoration plan for the project has the following goals:

  • 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 Mahitahi (Maitai) Valley
  • the development of a food corridor that will support the movement of native bird species across the Nelson region
  • benefits for taonga species such as kōura/freshwater crayfish, tuna/eels, inanga/native fish

Project Mahitahi Stories of the Awa

There are many stories of the Mahitahi, the river and valley that has run through the lives and hearts of people of Whakatū Nelson for hundreds of years.

To capture some of the histories and memories of this special place, Project Mahitahi is building a digital story map, and as part of Tuku 21 Heritage Festival. To help us breathe life into the collection, we are asking for your contributions in the form of stories, images, and recollections to add to the map that will be exhibited in the library, along the rear windows facing the Mahitahi / Maitai River, and online at the end of the Festival.

You can find see some of the oral histories that we’ve already collected here

There are a couple of ways you can share your memories with us:

  • Come to Nelson's Elma Turner Library and collect a form to write your recollection on (your recollection can be as short as a paragraph or as long as you wish), or to place your photograph or image on. The library staff will then help you to scan this into our system so we can print it off and add to the window map.
  • Email us your recollection to us at
  • Use the social map below to share your written memories and/or upload a photo or scan.

We will add content to the display every week, so come along and see what other people have added.

At the end of April, we will randomly select one contributor who will be gifted a copy of the book Old Nelson: A postcard history 1900-1940.