Horizons Regional Council is supporting the restoration of Kai Iwi Stream, one of three Whanganui-based Ministry for the Environment co-funded Te Mana o te Wai projects that the Ngaa Rauru iwi have under way.

The restoration project aims to improve water quality and habitat in the stream, and to improve the connection of people with the stream.

Three marae, Taipake, Te Aroha and Kai Iwi, have been working together to clear substantial amounts of willow from about 800m of the stream; replanting it with native trees and harakeke (flax).

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The project began earlier this year, with the removal of willows by McDougal Earthmoving Ltd along the 800m of waterway, mostly on the western side of the stream.

About 300m of additional fencing was then built to exclude stock grazing and allow for the native trees to be put in.

Horizons freshwater coordinator Clare Ridler says Horizons supported iwi with background information and costings for the funding application for the project, and has played a role in ensuring the base work required was completed before the plants could be put in the ground at the end of June.

Horizons freshwater staff walked the stream banks with whanau to identify what plants would suit their goals as well as maximising benefits for in-stream life, and created the planting plan.

Lower growing plants were chosen to allow views to the stream from certain areas, and taller trees were planted in some areas to provide shade to the stream and food for insects, bees and birds.

"The removal of willows from along this stretch of stream is a project iwi have approached us about a number of times in the past," said Ms Ridler.

"It is great that the Te Mana o te Wai project was able to assist with funding to see this wish accomplished."

Naani Waitai from Taipake Marae was glad the willow removal was undertaken earlier this year and was excited about getting the native planting under way.

"We have noticed how much the willows had changed the stream over time," said Ms Waitai.

"It has been hard to get through the willows down to the water, they were causing flooding issues and have built up the base of the stream, meaning it was no longer suitable for swimming or for gathering kai."

With the help of Horizons, 2000 plants arrived from Kii Tahi nursery in Patea and the Kaitoke prison nursery.

"We were over the moon from the amount of whanau that came together from each of the marae to get these plants in the ground," said Ms Waitai.

"Our goal is to be able to embrace the stream again, to be able to see the water from the marae and enjoy swimming in it again. We also hope that as the plantings grow, tuna and koura return back to the stream."