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Actions for the Awa

Actions for the Awa

Our streams need our help. 

Aotearoa was once full of open streams and rivers, cutting across the landscape. As humans changed this landscape, many of these were diverted or piped to make way for urban development, leaving them to become out of sight, out of mind. These piped streams becaome known as ‘stormwater’ which distances them from what they once were and the diversity of species that call them home. In fact, around 95% of Wellington streams are now piped. Little to no light enters these systems and the smooth concrete gives nowhere for fish to hide or rest.  

Pollutants find their way into urban streams through stormwater drains, buried landfills, faulty or ageing sewer systems and more.  

How do we restore the mouri that has been lost?  

This is a complex task, but Kia Mouriora Te Kaiwharawhara Sanctuary to Sea (KMK/S2S) is tackling it, with a 100-year goal of restoring the mouri, or lifeforce, of the Kaiwharawhara catchment.  

However, we all need to do our part to help restore the mouri of the Kaiwharawhara and other urban water ways across the country.  

Here's some way you can help: 

Plant native trees and plants on your property and increase water soluble surfaces.  

Rainfall naturally leads to increased flow in our awa, and sometimes natural flooding, but the intensification of our suburbs (more houses in smaller spaces) is causing excess amounts of stormwater to go into awa and cause harmful effects. ‘Non water soluble’ surfaces, such as concrete, do not absorb water and instead sends it straight into our stormwater drainage systems.  

This excessive water can cause damage to ecosystems, habitats, and human property.  

However, by having ‘water soluble’ surfaces around our homes, like soil, plant matter, sand or gravel, this water can be absorbed and drain away slowly. This slows down the amount of water entering our awa and stormwater which reduces flooding, erosion and pollution. As well as providing resilience to flooding and sedimentation, plants and trees create habitats and kai/food for birds and invertebrates and the ideal, shady environment that reduces water temperature to what our native fish have evolved with.  

Wash your car on the lawn or at a carwash.  

How you wash your car makes a big difference to what enters our freshwater. When you use a carwash service at a petrol station, the water is treated with a sump before entering the stormwater system. If washing at home, you can prevent dirty water entering the stormwater by cleaning on grass or gravel which filters the water and keeps most pollutants out of the stormwater.  

Performing regular vehicle maintenance is one of the other most effective things you can do to reduce the impact from your vehicle. These address and prevent any leaking of toxic chemicals from your vehicle.  

Get to know your stream.  

One big action you can take is to get to know your local stream. Find out where it runs – is it piped or open? Does it need a hand? Planting alongside the water, collecting rubbish or speaking to your local council about the issues your stream faces are all actions you can take to help the awa.  

Sometimes, the simple act of reconnecting with your wai/waterways is the biggest action you can take. We can’t care for something if we don’t even know it exists.  

Photo: Banded kōkopu captured by Scott Langdale

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