Urban stream receives special treatment

The Waihinaunui stream is received ongoing assistance from Whitby Place resident Roger Dempsey, who has taken it upon himself to beautify the urban stream with planting and maintenance.

Attracting attention and native birds

Roger’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed, with flower blooms edging the beginnings of a native forest on the edge of the Upper Killarney Street roadside stream.

“I wanted Kaikōura to have a tidy entrance with wow factor,” Roger said.

“I’m just enjoying what I’m doing, attracting native birds and it’s become a tourist attraction at times when the flowers are out, especially the hot pokers!”

Roger moved back to Kaikōura 15 years ago after retiring as a sea fearer and has noticed an increase in native birds in that time, including resident bellbird and more recently tui.

Volunteers getting involved 

volunteers; Jen Coombes from Toronto and Nicki Rojas from London

Environment Canterbury Kaikōura’s Zone team recently assisted Roger with work around the stream with two volunteers; Jen Coombes from Toronto and Nicki Rojas from London, who were given the opportunity through the I-Site volunteer notice board.

Environment Canterbury's project delivery officer Heath Melville lead the initiative, “It’s great to see members of the public taking an active role in stewardship beyond their property boundary to the benefit of all users of the area, improving ecological values and increasing the stream’s visual presence in the public realm.” 

“It’s especially nice that we can share the fun with visitors from abroad, who seem to really enjoy getting involved and learning about our freshwater ecosystems,” Heath said.

“Native sedges will increase the filtration value of the stream, which is particularly important with run-off from the road right next to it. Urban streams are often in poor health due to pollutants carried by stormwater flows. I was surprised to see aquatic snails and native swamp buttercup living in and around this waterway,” Heath said.

Where the stream visually disappears next to the road it is piped underground before being day-lit again, flowing down through the bush towards Takahanga Domain before being piped under the domain to the beach. Piping streams is a practical measure in urbanised environments, but much of the value of the stream is lost.

Restoring some of the mauri

Environment Canterbury's Pou Mātai Kō (cultural land management advisor) Makarini Rupene has been working ongoingly with Te Rūnanga ō Kaikōura to restore mahinga kai values to the Kaikōura Zone.

“All streams were an abundant source of mahinga kai. Their health is of the highest importance to the mana of Tangata Whenua. In piping them underground, we take away from the mauri (life force) of the stream as well as our mana,” Makarini said.

“It is hoped that we can restore some of the mauri and a stronger relationship with ecosystems, while highlighting the stream’s significance as a taonga (treasure) rather than a burden,” Makarini said.