Mussel power cleanup
A RANGE of projects are under way to restore the health of Okahu Bay.
It’s 100 years since the sewerage pipe was built and Ngati Whatua Orakei has launched a mussel reef restoration programme to clean up the waterways that feed into the area.
The project has been seven years in the making for project manager Richelle KahuiMcConnell.
She began researching the bay while studying a bachelor of resource management at Unitec in 2007.
Kahui-McConnell set up an annual seafood survey and an internship programme with the University of Auckland engineering department to test the health of the bay.
Results were less than positive with very few shellfish recorded and high levels of heavy metal loads and sediment detected.
‘‘We realised that because of the engineering of the bay, the water is never going to flush out how it used to,’’ she says.
‘‘The marina and the hardstand where the boats are maintained stop the way the flushing used to happen.’’
But mussels, which were abundant in the bay in the 1970s, naturally filter water.
Forty thousand mussels weighing two tonnes were placed in the bay last month by Orakei Water Sports waka ama crew with help from about 60 volunteers.
The mussels, which were donated by Westpac Mussels Distributors and Coromandel Mussel Kitchen, can filter up to 350 litres of water per mussel per day. They are not safe to eat and are there only for water treatment purposes.
Another part of the pro- gramme is restoring waterways that feed Okahu Bay.
Ngati Whatua the into
Orakei members launched the adopt an awa (stream) programme on August 28.
with year 5 and 6 students from St Joseph’s School planted 800 trees along the headwaters of Takitimu Stream. Auckland Council provided the trees and cleared the site.
The trees should reduce the amount of sediment that washes down to the bay below and make it easier for the mussels to do their job, Kahui-McConnell says.
St Josephs School principal Ann McKeown says the planting project provides great hands-on experience for children.
‘‘They are very in tune with sustainability and want to integrate it into everything they do.’’
Te Hira Hawke is one of the volunteers.
He grew up on Kitemoana St and remembers his mother picking watercress in the stream.
‘‘This was one of the main water sources for the marae in Okahu Bay and it was cherished by our tribe. All the waterways are special.’’
Getting the ball rolling is a great feeling, KahuiMcConnell says.
‘‘It’s nice after so many meetings and proposals to actually see some tangible changes and knowing that we are physically making a difference. We are providing an opportunity to feel a real sense of kaitiakitanga (guardianship).
‘‘It makes me feel good to see so many kids and whanau involved.’’
Hands-on: Ngati Whatua Orakei members Tamaiti Tamaariki and Will Maihi help with the Okahu Bay Mussel Reef Restoration Project.
Setting out: Orakei Water Sports waka ama team members help lay new mussel beds as part of the Okahu Bay Mussel Reef Restoration Programme.