GIBBONS CREEK NATIVE FISH PASS
In 2015, the NZ Landcare Trust used a crowdfunding approach for the first time to generate interest and raise funds for native fish passes and retrofitting a section of Gibbons Creek from the River Road culvert to the Waikato River in Hamilton.
The appeal successfully reached its goal, attracting $3,517. A significant proportion came from NIWA, who became aware of the project thanks to the promotion around the crowdfunding initiative. The NIWA contribution was linked to funding they received from the Waikato River Authority.
The physical work required a small digger to position large rocks within the bed of the creek at several weirs to improve fish passage upstream. The larger rocks were supplemented by many smaller ones to create a more natural looking steam that contains plenty of fish friendly structures and habitat. The rocks were positioned by scientists from NIWA and Waikato Regional Council with volunteers from Hamilton Boys’ High helping with lifting and clearance.
This project happened due to the amazing staff from the contributing organisations and the in-kind contributions made: NIWA supplying geo-textile, Waikato Regional Council supplying sandbags and concrete, Hamilton City Council supplying the rock and contractor. The knowledge and expertise among the project team (NIWA, Waikato Regional Council, Hamilton City Council, Waikato Raupatu River Trust, Waikato River Authority and Ngati Wairere) was invaluable.
Gibbons Creek is home to eels, and giant and banded kōkopu (two of the five whitebait species). The hope is that with more in-stream habitat, more fish such as inanga and smelt (the two key whitebait species in the Waikato River) will choose to live there.
Both the Waikato Regional Council and NIWA monitored the stream before the works started, and have continued to monitor the stream since work was complete.
An interpretation panel was designed conjointly by NZ Landcare Trust, Hamilton City Council and Green Frog signage, and was installed near where the creek meets the Waikato River. This panel provides an outline of the physical changes that have been carried out and explains why these changes are important for native fish.
The intention of the signage is to increase awareness of the amazing biodiversity that with simple changes can be encouraged to live alongside us – even in heavily urbanised areas such as Hamilton.