Corrections' contribution to a local environmental project to restore the Mataahua (previously Mamaku) Wetlands in Tasman is drawing praise from project partners.

The partnership project between Tasman Environmental Trust, Iwi, Corrections, Department of Conservation and Tasman District Council aims to restore and rejuvenate eight hectares of the Mataahua wetland following years of decline and damage.

Community workers get stuck in planting trees.“The site has significant local historic and cultural importance, most especially for iwi,” says Service Manager Rob Jenkins. “It was the site where Maori of five local iwi retreated to, sheltered and many were ultimately killed during the musket wars. Environmentally, it is also important to the area as a wetland and a link in the Waimea estuary.”

In recognition of its cultural and historical importance, at the beginning of Corrections’ work, iwi gave a special karakia (blessing) at the site. The karakia was chosen and adapted by Probation Officer, Chanel Starkey, who had the honour of planting the first native tree.

Over this first planting season, people on community work sentences have contributing over 3000 hours of labour to the project to date. They have moved several tons of earth, cleared streams, removed non-natives and fences and planted over 3000 trees.

Julie Newell of the Tasman Environmental Trust says she is thrilled with the contribution of community workers and what they have contributed to the project thus far.

“I’ve been very impressed with what has been achieved,” she says.

The newly planted Mataahua Wetlands

“The job’s been done to a very high standard, and I’m thrilled with the quality of the plantings and the enthusiasm and professionalism of the Corrections team. Any reservations I had in trusting community workers to do a good job have been dispelled. It’s great to know that the plantings will be looked after by such a reliable team as we go into the plant care phase of revegetation.”

Rob says that it is clear to staff that the project means something to the people on sentences working in the wetland.

“The Community Work team have been outstanding, the work is clearly of high value to our community workers and their morale is high,” he says. “We have also had great support from the public. It is deeply satisfying to know that our grandchildren will walk in native forests planted by Corrections and local people.”

Julie Newell agrees and says she is looking forward to working with the Corrections team further.

“I hope that the workers feel a sense of pride when they pass by and know they had a hand in transforming the rank grass into something amazing,” she says.