Our native fish swim up and down our waterways like a highway. They’re pretty amazing at climbing, but they’re not so great at flying! The stream from the Porirua Harbour has heaps of fish passage barriers – meaning it’s hard for fish to get to where they can grow to maturity. Things like this are a problem!
Students from Brandon Intermediate have been working on improving the fish passage from Porirua Harbour up to Cannons Creek Lakes and Cannons Creek Stream for the past three years. From installing fish ladders to planting trees, they have really developed a love and connection with their local waterways.
The specific issues students have been trying to address are: rubbish-filled drains and grates, long concreted channels with no shelter for fish, steps (fish can't climb them!), perched culverts (pipes hanging over the stream).
Supported by teacher Jacqui Watts- Pointer, the Envirogroup has taken part in the freshwater education and restoration programmes with the Mountains To Sea Wellington team since 2016, which has grown into a real love and connection with the waterways in their local area.
Their aspirations have got a lot of people on board and this project has many partners.
Since they began the project the students have installed about 15m of fish ladders, ropes and passageway (first project). They’ve planted hundreds of trees, presented to council and advocated for a Tuna Sanctuary at Cannons Creek Lakes. These creek-siders are all about their awa!
They continued plantings alongside the Cannons Creek stream in 2018, and then went on to create a ‘mission’ with Wild Eyes who filmed them in 2018 showing people how to go night-time spot-lighting and identifying fish in their stream, and their work installing fish ropes.
In 2019 Mountains To Sea Wellington helped the students conduct fish surveys and Porirua College also took part. The study revealed healthy populations of giant kokopu and tuna thriving in the creek, despite the pollution and fish passage barriers. To help keep the project underway, Mountains To Sea Wellington applied to Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund and we secured $3500 funding to help the kids install further fish passage for their stream. This was undertaken by Kelly and Tim from AES Environmental who have lent so much support and expertise to the project since it began.
Andrew Grey from Porirua City Council is always up for a good idea when it comes to improving Bothamley Park and the areas around, and with the support of Aashif at Partners Porirua and the team at Conservation Volunteers, more than 300 plants went into the ground this winter alongside Cannons Creek stream, and about 2000 more with many other schools from around the Cannons Creek Lakes.
Their efforts have reached far and wide. They now appear in Gillian Caldier's book New Zealand Nature Heroes and they also won the Education and Child Youth Development Award at the Regional Wellington Airport Awards in July 2019.
This project has been passed from year to year by the students of Brandon Intermediate and their efforts are paying big dividends in raising their communities awareness of their local stream.
Aaron and Ezra came and presented their project at the Porirua Guardians in November 2019. There they talked about their continued work and their dreams for the future. So stay tuned to see how much farther this project grows!