Caring for the environment  |  8 Jun 2022

A stream restoration project in Christchurch is putting a traditional tangata whenua way of harvesting wai kōura (freshwater crayfish) to good use.

Christchurch City Council, in partnership with tangata whenua are placing tau kōura in different locations in the Cashmere Stream to assess the number of wai kōura in the waterway.

The Council says the goal is to assess the current health of the stream to understand changes in the ecological health of Cashmere Stream once works are finished.

“Tau kōura were traditionally used by tangata whenua to harvest wai kōura. Bracken fronds would be bundled together and sunk to the bottom of a river, stream or lake to create a refuge for wai kōura and other species. The bundles would be left in place for a few weeks, then lifted out to harvest the wai kōura,’’ says Christchurch City Council Head of Three Waters Helen Beaumont.

“This traditional fishing technique is being used as part of a mātauranga māori monitoring programme and should allow us to get a good gauge of the number of the species in Cashmere Stream. What we are hoping is that once the stream restoration work is complete we will start to see an increase in the number of wai kōura and other species in the waterway,’’ Ms Beaumont says.

Wai kōura is one of a number of threatened species that live in Cashmere Stream.

The Council is working with the Cashmere Stream Care Group and other community organisations on a four-stage project to enhance the two kilometres of Cashmere Stream between Sutherlands Road and Dunbars Stream.

The aim is to improve the ecological health of the stream by re-shaping its banks, placing rock and logs in the stream to create meanders and new habitats for the aquatic animals who live in the waterway, and planting the stream’s banks with natives.

A similar project has already finished in the headwaters of Cashmere Stream, upstream from Sutherlands Road.

“This Saturday, 11 June, the Cashmere Stream Care Group has organised a community planting day from 9.30am to 12.30pm to help plant the banks of the stream. They are aiming to get about 2000 plants in the ground so they are looking for volunteers to help,’’ says Ms Beaumont.

“The plantings are a critical part of this project and will help create a better future for Cashmere Stream so we are very grateful for the hard work that the Cashmere Stream Care Group and other volunteers put in,’’ Ms Beaumont says.

People wanting to help with Saturday’s planting should meet at the Welsh Road cul-de-sac head at 9.30am. They will need sturdy footwear, gloves, suitable clothing, drinking water, and a spade, if they have one. There will be a BBQ afterwards.

For more information on the project email or visit our website.