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Restoring habitat for native fish

Friday 13 August 2021

Council in partnership with Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust has been working hard to restore habitat for native fish to lay their eggs along Pakowhai Stream.

The inanga habitat restoration project began in 2015 and has been well supported by the Environment Centre, Enviroschools, Whitebait Connections, Wai Restoration, and the local community.

Funded by Council, 700 native trees, shrubs and grasses have been planted by Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust in a bid to protect the sensitive environment and improve the spawning habitat for inanga and other native fish.

“We’ve engaged in this mahi to restore vitality back to our Tūranga spaces; cultural, relational and environmental,” says Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust environmental specialist Soraya Pohatu.

“Our goal is to restore the mana of the land and protect the mauri of the stream.”

Council environmental scientist and inanga habitat restoration project manager Olivia Steven said fencing off the waterway and planting is key to improving the spawning success and biodiversity along the Pakowhai stream.

“The Pakowhai stream has been recognised as one of the best spawning sites in the Waipaoa catchment area and it feeds into the ecologically significant Te Wherowhero lagoon.”

Inanga, the most common whitebait species, lay their eggs in grasses along the banks where the saltwater meets the freshwater during a spring tide, which typically occurs once a month from March till July.

“Long grasses, and the ability to move freely in the stream, are essential for a good inanga spawning habitat,” says Ms Steven.

“We’re trying to achieve broader ecological outcomes by restoring the wider riparian area.”

The team from Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust have planted native grasses on the stream banks to improve the spawning habitat. Native trees and shrubs such as harakeke, koromiko, kanuka and ti kōuka have been planted on the higher banks to increase the biodiversity along the stream and improve water quality.

For more information on the inanga spawning programme