Dead eels in stream

Taranaki Daily News - - News - DEENA COSTER

A Taranaki man be­lieves it’s time for a com­plete over­haul of how wa­ter­ways in the re­gion are man­aged, af­ter dead eels were found in a stream on his an­ces­tral fish­ing grounds.

Ti­hikura Ho­haia, of Taranaki iwi, has kept a close eye on the health of Waitekaure Stream in Pun­garehu, South Taranaki for decades and its cur­rent state left him see­ing red.

‘‘It’s ab­so­lute anger.’’

The stream is run­ning dry and tuna (eel) are strug­gling to live and thrive. Three dead tuna were found in the stream at the week­end.

A video posted on Face­book by Te Whenua To¯ muri Trust on Fe­bru­ary 9, also high­lighted con­cerns about the state of coastal streams like Waitekaure and ques­tioned what was con­tribut­ing to their de­cline. The trust was formed in 2013 with a fo­cus on com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment and the en­vi­ron­ment. Fronted by en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist and trustee Emily Bai­ley, the video links the health of the streams to a va­ri­ety of fac­tors in­clud­ing the drainage of wet­lands, in­ten­sive dairy farm­ing, drought, ris­ing sea lev­els and poor man­age­ment.

In 2014, Ho­haia laid a com­plaint with Taranaki Re­gional Coun­cil (TRC) about earth­works be­ing car­ried out in the Waitekaure catch­ment and the im­pact this was hav­ing on an­ces­tral fish stocks.

He felt lit­tle had been done in the in­ter­ven­ing years to pro­tect the wa­ter­way, or oth­ers in his rohe and he felt there had been no con­tin­gency plan in place to en­sure the on­go­ing health of the streams, even against fac­tors like drought.

‘‘This is the se­cond time that stream’s [Waitekaure] dried up in two years,’’ he said. Ho­haia felt iwi and hapu¯ should be given a big­ger role in terms of mon­i­tor­ing and pro­tec­tion the re­gion’s wa­ter­ways.

‘‘They carry our ko¯ rero, they carry our his­tory, they are our lifeblood, they are us,’’ he said.

While there are iwi rep­re­sen­ta­tives on TRC’s stand­ing com­mit­tees, Ho­haia did not think this went far enough. ‘‘It’s not a part­ner­ship as was promised un­der the Treaty of Wai­tangi at all.’’

In re­sponse to the video posted on­line, TRC di­rec­tor en­vi­ron­ment qual­ity Fred McLay said drought con­di­tions and the as­so­ci­ated pro­longed dry spell since Novem­ber 2017 had ‘‘sig­nif­i­cantly im­pacted’’ on the Waitekaure Stream.

‘‘There are other sim­i­lar streams in the area with very low nat­u­ral flows. In some cases only the main stem of the streams have water in them and the tribu­taries and farm drains have dried up,’’ he said.

He con­firmed the coun­cil had re­sponded to re­ports of dead, or stressed, eels as a re­sult.

McLay said there was no re­source con­sent in place to take water from the Waitekaure Stream. There were other re­source con­sents in place, in­clud­ing to dis­charge dairy ef­flu­ent on nearby farm land and water.

In re­sponse to ques­tions about the fre­quency of mon­i­tor­ing of the stream, McLay said with more than 500 wa­ter­ways in the re­gion, it was ‘‘not fea­si­ble to mon­i­tor ev­ery reach of ev­ery stream for water qual­ity.’’

He said its an­nual farm in­spec­tion pro­gramme gave the coun­cil ‘‘a rea­son­able level of gen­eral sur­veil­lance’’ and in­for­ma­tion from the pub­lic about any en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns were also wel­comed.

McLay con­firmed Ho­haia’s 2014 com­plaint had been in­ves­ti­gated and found that stream di­ver­sion earth­works had been car­ried out in prepa­ra­tion for ri­par­ian fenc­ing and plant­ing. He said an abate­ment no­tice was is­sued to cease the work and ap­ply for re­source con­sent. Sub­se­quently, the abate­ment no­tice was com­plied with and a re­source con­sent is­sued and mon­i­tored, he said.

Three fur­ther com­plaints about the Waitekaure Stream had been lodged with TRC since then. In Fe­bru­ary 2016, con­cerns were raised about dead eels be­ing found at the stream’s mouth.

McLay said a fur­ther com­plaint about the stream di­ver­sion works was made in April 2016 but an in­spec­tion found the con­sent con­di­tions were be­ing ad­hered with.

In Oc­to­ber 2017, TRC re­sponded to con­cerns about dis­coloura­tion of the stream, but this was not ev­i­dent at the time of in­spec­tion, McLay said.


The Waitekaure Stream has suf­fered sig­nif­i­cantly be­cause of the re­gion’s drought con­di­tions, the TRC says.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.