Freshwater front of mind for Banks Peninsula

EOS Ecology, Whaka-Ora Healthy Harbour, University of Canterbury students, Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust, Rāpaki Marae, and community members joined the Banks Peninsula Water Zone Committee’s discussion around their work, aspirations and connections to freshwater at a recent meeting.

The Committee was pleased to be able to bring people together to share ideas and identify ways of working collaboratively in future.

They enjoyed hearing from some of the groups and organisations working towards positive wai (freshwater) outcomes in the area and sharing the evening with other groups who share their goal to protect and enhance the precious freshwater across Banks Peninsula.

Education and empowerment

kids look at eel in tank

Nature Agents study a tuna/eel in the 2019 programme.

EOS Ecology’s Environmental Scientist Kirsty Brennan updated the Committee on how the Nature Agents programme is engaging young people in local science.

The ‘Learning Experiences Outside the Classroom’ (LEOTC) programme inspires students to make the sciences part of their education and life.

Schools on Banks Peninsula are registered with EOS Ecology, completing surveys and recording data on the peninsula’s streams. In 2019, a similar project was undertaken with Christchurch schoolchildren and the Ōtakaro/Avon River (pictured).

Information the students collect is available through an online data tool, including characteristics of the site, water quality, invertebrates and habitat.

Planning key to achieving freshwater outcomes

The Whaka-Ora Healthy Harbour group has a vision to restore the ecological and cultural health of Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour and ensuring mahinga kai is protected and enhanced for generations to come.

Programme manager Karen Banwell presented the Committee with some staggering numbers, including the more than 27,000 seedlings planted across the catchment, with the community and other organisations’ help.

Banwell said they are working with landowners on Banks Peninsula to reduce sediment and increase mahinga kai values.

“We’ve recently had funding from the Department of Conservation’s Community Fund/Pūtea Tautiaki Hapori for an investigation into īnaka/whitebait spawning habitat at the head of Whakaraupō,” she said.

Trust’s vision for freshwater habitats

The Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust (BPCT) sees conservation and farming working side by side in future. The group is working with community groups and farming organisations to build native vegetation to protect and enhance habitats for wildlife that call it home.

Since the Trust began in 2001, BPCT has facilitated the placing of 76 covenants over 1502 hectares of private land across the Banks Ecological Region (on Banks Peninsula, plus the Port Hills and Kaitorete Spit).

Covenants administration officer Marie Neal said stock exclusion gives “immediate positive effects” to waterways with bank stability, improved water quality and native bush regeneration.

University students present freshwater findings

University of Canterbury students Louisa Prattley and James Manning presented their group project on a methodology to estimate the quantity of water taken for stock and household use, and to better understand and manage the overall water resource on Banks Peninsula.

The project was undertaken to inform the Committee if the water takes are having an impact on the environment and whether there are sufficient measures in place to safeguard water.

The students noted that timing and data availability were constraints to the results of the report and that more information and research would be needed to provide more significant findings.

On completion of the project, Prattley accepted a summer student role to do further work on the topic and hopes to further investigate water use, consented takes and permitted takes.

More information

The Banks Peninsula Water Zone Committee is a joint committee of Christchurch City Council and Environment Canterbury.

The Committee’s role is to work with the community to develop actions and tactics to deliver their goals and aspirations for freshwater. It recommends these to councils and other organisations to help achieve this.

The Committee meets monthly and members of the public are welcome to attend. See when the next meeting is, or email ecinfo@ecan.govt.nz.