Kids help save stream

Published 04/08/2020

Students from Brandon Intermediate are coming up with helpful measures to protect our waterways.

Kids help save the stream

By Jim McNaughton

The Environmental Group at Porirua’s Brandon Intermediate made a bit of a splash late last year. Time has passed since then and with it a conspiracy of events that prevented us telling their story, but now we can and we think it’s a story still worth telling.

Two years ago, a group of students at Brandon Intermediate found a clear common purpose. They identified themselves as “proud kaitiaki of the Cannons Creek Lakes and waterways near our school.” This guardianship included composting, recycling and planting 600 trees over two years in Cannon’s Creek Park to develop a better environment for fish, aquatic creatures and birds.

Their work included taking ownership of applying for a $500 grant from Porirua City Council for the tree-planting. The council awarded them $1000.

Teacher Jaqui Watts-Pointer was clearly very proud of her students in the Environmental Group, and also keen to give thanks for the support they received. “The council have been amazing. They are very supportive. And their own work around the waterways is making a big difference. Two years ago there was nothing in Bottomley Stream. Now there’s life.”

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Environmental Group spokespeople Aaron Moe (L) and Ezra Crawshaw (R) with teacher Jacqui Watts-Pointer at the Wellington Airport Regional Community Awards.

A surprising amount of life. An Environmental Group survey noted long and short-fin eels, giant kōkupa, and even a few a few inanga which had migrated up from the harbour. 

There was a problem though. A fast-flowing three-stepped culvert—about three storeys high in total—was hindering stream access and migratory routes for these regenerating species.

The Environmental Group didn’t want fish being stopped by this barrier. So, after doing some research and getting advice from experts, they installed rope baffles in the culvert to slow the water and give aquatic creatures a place to rest in the pipes. Sprat ropes were attached to lips of the culverts, which gave baby fish something to wriggle up on their journey upstream to the lakes. A “fish hotel”, providing shade, shelter and a safe place to rest, was also installed.

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(L)Measuring captured giant kōkopu and releasing them back into the lake(R).  

Jacqui was impressed by the students’ dedication.  “They put a lot of their own time in. Lunchtimes and morning breaks too.”

Last year they won the Education & Child/Youth Development award in the Wellington Airport Regional Community Awards for Porirua; the group’s spokespeople, Aaron Moe and Ezra Crawshaw (both in Year 8 at the time) gave a slide presentation at Mountains to Sea Guardians Group celebration at Whiteria in November; and the group’s work will be included in a forthcoming book on New Zealand nature heroes, by Gillian Candler. Last but not least, Aaron and Ezra said that friends and families like what they’ve done, too.  

The spokespeople gave a modest and factual account of the Environmental Group’s achievements when interviewed, but there were plenty of smiles. Deflecting praise, they preferred to express their gratitude for help from the council, Zoe from Mountains to Sea, Ashif and Rachel from Partners Porirua, and the fish experts, Kelly and Tim from ATS Environmental in Nelson. Not to mention their awesome teachers!

“I enjoy doing this stuff,” Ezra said. “I like to help the fish. Help bring them back. It’s for future generations.”

Aaron said he liked to see the environment clean and healthy. “I’m also thinking of future generations.”

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Students planted a range of trees near waterways to help protect them.

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Sprat ropes give small fish something to wriggle up.