Te tuna tāone/Urban Eel 2019 has flown by, with a huge mixture of projects and student actions getting undertaken, and collaborations occurring throughout Christchurch! One such collaboration was the Te Tuna Heke art project, where students painted large carved wooden eels with Christchurch street artist Richard “Pops” Baker. These were installed on the 20th of September at the Riverbend Refuge- a site where people and nature can connect and thrive- which was developed by the Green Lab (previously Greening the Rubble).
The site was blessed by Hutika Croft-Gibbs from Matapopore on the day, and a waiata was led by Linwood College students who spent the morning preparing the site. We then heard about the site and it’s past life from Evan Smith from AvON, and about the Riverbend Refuge Project from Khye Hitchcock from The Green Lab. Students, project collaborators, teachers, parents and supporters then shared kai and explored the site- producing rubbings with Evan Smith and Pops Baker, play...
It's been a busy couple of weeks in our Urban Eel project. Our Lady of the Assumption School students have been working on their actions to help create positive changes for our eels, and the streams that they inhabit.
One group of students- Milan, Xhin and Savanna - wrote a letter to Meridian to ask about eel barriers to migration. It was well written and researched, as you will be able to see below:
To Whom it May Concern,
We are writing this letter to you to ask you if you
could help us with our plan for helping New Zealand Longfin eels.
We have found out that hydroelectric dams are stopping our eels swimming to Tonga to breed and that eels are not able to get through your hydro electric dams. Do you have a way to let eels past the dams?
If not, we would ask you if you could make a way around the dams so our eels can get to Tonga to have their babies and for the babies to come home. We know this has worked in other countries. For example, in the Columbia-Snake River Basin in the northwes...
It’s well into 2019 now, and Urban Eel is kicking off again for two new schools! Welcome to Our Lady of Assumption, Steiner and Selwyn House schools- we look forward to meeting you over the next couple of weeks, and working with you throughout the year! The journey you’re about to go on will be interesting, exciting, and inspirational!
We hope you’ll take inspiration from our two schools from last year- Burnside Primary School and Isleworth School.
We met Isleworth School at the Summer in the Styx event last year. Over the year, they developed a love of Tuna, and a deep understanding of their biology, and the issues that affect them. The students took initiative, and alongside the guidance of their teacher, Viola, they became eel experts! They participated in a planting at the Styx, have built a Tuna Townhouse, which is going to go in a stream shortly (keep your eyes out!),made eel artwork, and have shared their learning both at school through their Green Gala,as well as the Summer at t...
World Fish Migration Day was celebrated in Christchurch right next to the Ōtākaro Avon River at the bustling
Margaret Mahy Playground. Working Waters Trust was there, along with many other fascinating stalls showing live fish, a fact-finding treasure hunt, and learning how to be a stormwater superhero.
We had a fake stream, complete with it's very own hydropower station and a 'big mamma' longfin eel made out of recycled stockings. Kids got stuck in to move elvers (young eels) up above the dam, or moving the big mamma migrating eel down past the dam. We also had branches, rocks and blocks for them to make pretend 'tuna townhouses'- to give eels home in our urban streams where they can hide from birds and larger eels. Thanks to everyone who helped out with the stalls, or who came along to learn about our FFF - Fantastic Freshwater Fish!
Even when on holiday in Golden Bay, Projects Manager at Working Waters Trust, has the freshwater bug. A very rare species of freshwater mussel is currently only known from one pond/stream near Onekaka, but has museum records of being found in a larger area on the Western side of Golden Bay. Sophie has been out looking for samples with her dad, and has just sent some to a specialist at Te Papa who is able to tell them apart from the common freshwater mussel species found around most of the country- fingers crossed we have found a new site or two!
UPDATE March 18: Te Papa has confirmed we have found two new sites for the rare mussels-with a grand total of 3 known waterways now. Probably more out there to be found next summer. Fantastic news!
Watch this space for news on our newest project. In 2018 we are launching our 'Te Tuna Tāone - Urban Eel' project. This project will focus on community-led action to protect and care for our endemic longfin eel in our urban waterways in Christchurch, that are under stress from issues such as polluted stormwater.
A huge thank you to our partner Enviroschools Canterbury and our funder, the Rātā Foundation, for enabling this project to kick-off.