FOM Newsletter                     Winter 2017
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Welcome to our Winter 2017 newsletter.
Swimming is off the agenda for the winter months, but the Maitai River still makes a lovely recreation area, with frequent rain ensuring it runs clean and clear. As you’ll read below we’ve been busy on your behalf with submissions, monitoring, plant care and other activities to ensure our river runs clean and clear year round and into the future. 
River Monitoring
The monitoring group is going well and we are always keen to welcome new people who would like to help out with the monthly testing.  We have three sites; Maitai at Clouston Bridge, Brook at Manuka St and upper Brook just down from the RDA yards.  We measure a number of indicators of stream health: pH, dissolved oxygen, Nitrate, Phosphate, temperature , clarity, conductivity and E. coli as well as macro invertebrates, algae and substrate.  
Land Care Trust
Last month we had a small workshop with a National Group “Land Care Trust” who are looking at ‘Citizen Science’ around NZ.  They were very interested in what our group was doing and in particular the work Philippa has been doing comparing different methods for measuring E. coli.
Fish survey
Two of us took the opportunity to take part in a survey looking for Koaro eggs and checking the numbers and breeding status of the fish. This involved searching along stream edges and under boulders in the stream to find clusters of eggs and doing electric fishing to get an idea of numbers and size of the fish. The survey was organised by Paul Fisher and took place in the Brook below and above the Brook dam. The group included people from Nelson City council, Cawthron, Fish and Game, DOC and ourselves. It was an interesting and informative session for us and rewarding to have first hand  experience, seeing these beautiful little fish  and listening in on the discussion amongst the scientists attending. If you would like to be involved in future survey work FOM has waders that can be borrowed. For more information contact us.
Not a lot happening at the moment.  We are waiting on Tasman Pine Forest to send us a draft of their Environmental Plan for our comment and feedback.  In our submission to the Council’s Annual Plan we pointed out that the work done under Project Maitai/Mahitahi means there is now enough scientific evidence to support a review of permitted activities and an update of consent conditions on existing forestry activities in the Maitai catchment. We would like to see Council allocate funding towards this review as either part of the general environmental funding or as part of Healthy Streams or an extended Project Maitai/Mahitahi.

Willow control in and alongside Maitai. 
Council plans to develop a willow management strategy – and we have asked that wherever possible control of saplings should be by physical methods, eg cutting back, pulling out regrowth. This could be promoted as a community activity (similar to Council planting days). While we recognize that poisoning may be necessary to control well established willows, Friends of the Maitai is opposed to routine/ongoing ‘cut & paste’ using poison in close proximity to the Maitai River. 

Spoonbill visits
A solitary visitor to the Maitai River in mid August last year was a Royal Spoonbill sighted feeding in the shallows of the river outside
Trailways just below the Trafalgar Street bridge. DOC classify the Royal Spoonbill as naturally uncommon. Its bill structure limits it to feeding in in water less than 40cm deep. Vibration detectors inside the bill detect prey and the bird snaps the bill shut trapping its prey.  

Almond Tree Flat – a bridge to the future? 
We commend the Council for the removal of the ford to assist fish passage. You might be interested to know a large lamprey was found below the ford when the work was being done. We have asked Council to consult with residents, track users and other stakeholders regarding the location of the replacement foot/cycle bridge, and also suggested this be done sooner than the current plan to replace in 2020.
For those who don't know what a lamprey is:

Maitai Pathway

In late 2015 the Council decided to defer consideration of the Maitai Pathway from Collingwood Street to Nile Street until at least 2017/2018.
When this starts we expect that the overall intention of the Council will be to try to connect the cycling path downstream of Trafalgar Street with the eastern residential areas by some means yet to be determined. We have been very clear in our presentations to the Council that this must involve full public consultation, involving all the people who live near the area and all the people who travel through it, not just the local residents who live adjacent to possible connection routes.

In the meantime we have been talking to the Council about two related issues:
•    We joined with Nelson Walkers Unite to commend the Council for its recent protection of the Maitai riverside park in the area between Bridge Street and Riverside Pool, and to ask it to extend the same protection to Domett Street between Hardy Street and Bridge Street, where a large section of recreation reserve is being used for casual day-long car parking. 
•    We proposed that Nelson should formally identify the Maitai riverside park as a named park, and asked Council to do this, to give it the clarity and dignity of a name and to help celebrate this wonderful space.
We remain convinced that it is vitally important to protect this very busy and very beautiful area of riverside park as a place where people are able to easily connect with the life of the Maitai as it runs through the heart of the city. We are continuing to watch this area very closely.
World Water Day
To celebrate World Water Day, March 23, Ali Kennedy and Alison Horne set up the Fish Game close to the Brook Waimarama display and the NCC stand by the stream in Isle Park. This coincided with the Isle Park evening market. 
We enjoyed playing the game with several young families. 
While there, we met the Educators of the Nelson Provincial Museum who had not seen the game before and who showed interest in  acquiring a smaller version.  It would be set up on the roof garden at the Museum. 
And during the two hours we were there we began to play with ideas for a second game…
Project Maitai/Mahitahi 
When we revived Friends of the Maitai three years ago we were pleased to find Council also had river health in its sights, and we welcomed the set up of Project Maitai/Mahitahi. However, the job is far from done, so the main thrust of our submission to the Nelson City Council’s Annual Plan in May was to maintain funding and resources for this project, rather than winding it back to ‘Healthy Streams. 
As long as there is scope for improving the health of the river and for further education of stakeholders as to the impacts of their activities on the river we believe this important project should continue. 
We (perhaps cheekily) suggested the Maitai River is of far great significance to Nelson ratepayers than the Tahuna Modellers’ Pond, and decisions as to where Council spends ratepayers’ money should reflect this. 
Right to protest
We are concerned that Council is looking change the law around protests. Throughout history protest has been an important vehicle for social change. As an environmental lobby group we would not want to see any restriction to the rights of citizens to make their feelings known through lawful protest. 
We have taken a collaborative approach to solving problems facing our river 
and in doing this it is vitally important to us to maintain the right to gather, protest and share concerns in respectful ways. 
We have submitted on the proposed Amenity Bylaw and stated we feel that it is very unreasonable to control our human rights to meet, seek solidarity and voice concerns about issues we hold important to the lives of our communities and the planet. 
The Mayor is on our side
We don’t yet know the outcome of the Annual Plan hearings, but we felt we were well received. Mayor Rachel Reese asked us if we thought a Water Conservation Order would be a good thing for the Maitai. Of course we said yes and we’re following this up by seeking more information. 
What happened to the trees?
We were concerned at the felling of Robinia trees in Domett St. FOM had no prior warning, there was no media coverage and our efforts to find out more from Council have not gone very far. However, we understand the dead trees were removed after a branch fell on someone, so the parks team had an obligation to remove them as soon as possible and it was considered essential maintenance. As to what’s to go in their place – again the information is failing to flow! 
The Autumn colours are stunning right now and our group continues to meet with new volunteers coming from time to time to bring fresh energy.There is a new batch of baby trees for this season to fill gaps in our existing planting site at Groom Creek including some larger species,such as beech and kahikatea to ensure the long term future of the stand. There has been some damage this Autumn caused by cicadas and a strong wind event in March so we have staked some of the more vulnerable trees. Denis has had excellent results with the trapping run and has caught a number of rats ,mice and stoats.
For your Diary
Sunday June 18th: A planting day is being organised. We will keep you informed on details.

Friday 2nd of June  Our next plant care session will be 4.00pm and fortnightly thereafter. Help weed and otherwise care for the small trees we have helped to plant at Groom Creek once more.  Opposite the Maitai Camp. Love to see you there. Bring gloves and sturdy shoes.
Like us on Facebook and keep in touch with what we are doing for your Maitai. You can aso view our page without having a facebook page.
We aim to send a newsletter every quarter. but joining us on facebook will keep you posted on what we are doing and when, where. Meetings, planting, monitoring and other info that we think might interest you like the upcoming public talk about what's in our water.
Just click on the link above and you will be taken to our page.

If you would like to contribute, please contact 
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 *|Winter 2017 Newsletter|*

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Friends of the Maitai · Maitai Valley · Nelson, Nelson 7010 · New Zealand

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