Mus­sel power cleanup

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By KA­RINA ABA­DIA

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.

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