Ōtautahi Christchurch is a special city – With its springs, it has sustained the mighty and beloved longfin eel right in the heart of our urban area. However with stormwater pollution and habitat destruction, we need to take action now to care for these unique ‘Tuna Tāone', or 'Urban Eels'.
In 2018, together with our Partner Enviroschools Canterbury, we are working with urban schools in Christchurch to provide classroom and stream-based education sessions, as well as technical support for students to undertaken their own actions in response to longfin eel habitat destruction and stormwater pollution.
Pathway for the Pomahaka- biodiversity stream
2014-2018 - Partners: Landcare Trust, Pomahaka Water Care Group
Working Waters Trust has supported the biodiversity stream of the 'Pathway for the Pomahaka' project in West Otago with 'Pomahaka galaxias' survey work, school education sessions, and community restoration and planting events. The wider project, which is still on-going, is a rural community-led catchment-scale initiative to improve water quality and encourage adoption of Good Management Practices for farmers.
Tūhaitara Coastal Park mudfish translocations
2014- 2018 Partner: Te Kōhaka o Tūhaitara Trust
The northern fringe of Tūtaepatu Lagoon, north of Christchurch, houses one of the rare fragment populations of the kōwaro (Canterbury mudfish), which is classed as Nationally Critical. High predation pressure and low mudfish numbers has led to Working Waters Trust and Te Kōhaka o Tūhaitara trialling an innovative approach of mudfish fry (larvae) translocations to specially prepared 'biota nodes' within Tūhaitara Coastal Park. The first fry transfers were in 2015, with successful reproduction within a biota node seen in autumn 2017.
Middelmost Mudfish Project
2016-Current - Partner: Forest and Bird North Canterbury Branch and landowner
Nestled in the centre of a dairy farm west of Oxford is something that could be called by someone passing by as 'a drainage ditch'. However if you look closer you will see that it is a natural spring remnant, that used to be part of a much larger wetland complex. Working Waters Trust found a healthy population of the Nationally Critical Canterbury Mudfish in the springs in 2015, and initiated a project to expand and improve the Canterbury mudfish habitat, together with Forest and Bird North Canterbury and the landowner. Together we have fenced off the spring, created new wetland areas with earthworks, planted native water plants and riparian plants. An interpretation sign is on the way, and hopefully some seating for our outdoor classroom area for View Hill School students who visit the site.
Kids for Kōwaro
2017 - Partners: Enviroschools Canterbury, Te Kōhaka o Tūhaitara Trust
Kids for Kōwaro centred on empowering students to take action to protect local waterways and care for the threatened Canterbury mudfish. Schools near mudfish habitat (such as St Josephs Rangiora, Kaiapoi North, Rangiora New Life, Pegasus Bay, Waikari, St Andrews and View Hill) took part in education sessions, mudfish rearing in tanks, monitoring, mudfish translocations, habitat improvements, and were support to undertake actions and ideas of their own, such as writing to the Prime Minister.
St Andrews Mudfish Wetland Restoration
Just as you drive past the St Andrews Golf Course, south of Timaru, you might spot something odd in the paddock- a large sign on a funky old tractor, saying 'Mudfish Live Here - We Care'. When groundwater-fed coastal wetland next to SH1 was found to have the Nationally Critical Canterbury mudfish (Kōwaro) the landowner initiated a project with St Andrews School and Working Waters Trust. With help and funding from the local community, Ichthyo-niche Ltd, Environment Canterbury, DOC, and WWF New Zealand (Tindall Foundation), we greatly extended the habitat available to the mudfish with earthworks, installed fencing, and have planted many native wetland plants. Monitoring with the school has shown that the mudfish approve of the new homes we've made for them. St Andrews School is carrying on with this project 2018 onwards.
Otago projects in Lawrence, Kakanui, Waihola, Karitane and elsewhere
We've been a busy bunch at Working Waters Trust over the years. Past projects include scoping a translocation of the pencil-thin lowland longjaw galaxias in Kakanui (that was just too risky to carry out, with numbers so dangerously low), adding boulder habitat and creating pools and riffles in Lawrence for the Clutha Flathead galaxias, or re-planting riparian habitat for the Eldon's galaxiid near where forestry-felling had taken place. We always work with wonderful project partners such as landowners and schools in the local area, and run experience sessions for folk to come meet their local, secretive freshwater fish.
Manuherikia River- Community-led catchment monitoring and management
2017-2018. Partners: Community members and St Gerards School
Working Waters Trust supported a local-led initiative of water quality monitoring, and engagement in the minimum flow-setting process of the Manuherikia River. The catchment is an important irrigation source for dry Central Otago, home to some rare galaxiids, and also a key recreational river for communities such as Alexandra.
NZ Post freshwater fish stamp series
2017. Partner: NZ Post, Stella McQueen
Working Waters Trust initiated and provided technical support and text for a stamp series that featured threatened native freshwater fish. You can stick a $1 lowland longjaw galaxias on your normal letters, or maybe try a redfin bully, lamprey, longfin eel or torrent fish if you have something bigger to send. Get in quick- limited time only!
Bits and bobs
Working Waters Trust has used some pretty innovative methods to help our freshwater critters and waterways. How about an enormous display tank with giant kokopu at the Otago Museum (that sadly sprung a leak!), or a campaign to empower those who felt voiceless to care for their local waterway (Nobodies Rivers.! We've tried to fight for more protection by reducing the recreational catch of the wai kōura Paranephrops zelandicus (a freshwater crayfish) with the Ministry for Primary Industries. We've has also been on a giant treasure hunt with Golden Bay locals to find more sites of the very rare Onekaka kākahi (freshwater mussel) and held lots of crafty festival stalls in our 'time-off'.