Tue, Apr 16, 2024 8:00 AM

River weed search saves stranded water life


William Woodworth

Kind hearted helpers searched piles of river weed in the wake of the weekend’s floods – saving stranded water life from certain death.

Heavy rain caused high water levels across the region’s rivers and streams.

Swathes of weed from the Taylor River detached and gathered mainly under the Beaver Road Bridge in central Blenheim throughout Friday,

And when the call came into Rangitāne o Wairau from Marlborough District Council’s Rivers team, volunteers soon stepped up.

General manager Corey Hebberd says the short-term community reaction was excellent.

“Many of the tuna (eels) were able to make their own way back to the water, but we found large numbers of ika (fish), inanga (whitebait) and kōura (freshwater crayfish) with the majority still being alive and able to be returned to the river.

“The fact we had several dozen people from across the community at the river at 8.30am the next day, and plenty of buy-in from passersby as well, is testament to the supportive community Marlborough has.”

Volunteers turned over and clambered around the gathered river weed to find signs of river species to be returned to the Taylor River. Photo: Corey Hebberd/Rangitāne o Wairau

Council Rivers and Drainage Engineering Manager Andy White says while he understands frustrations locals have had with the weeds, it is tangible proof of the flourishing Taylor River ecosystem.

“There was a huge number of eels, fish, and crayfish in the weeds that our long reach excavator was pulling out from Beaver Road Bridge from about 6pm on Friday – I’ve honestly seen nothing like it.

“That’s great signs our ecology plans work, but we are still finessing the balance between flood protection and ecological protection from central Government’s directives, with a priority on flood protection.

“We’re working on getting the balances between flood protections and ecology plans right despite complaints about how weeds look, so we’ve taken valuable lessons from this for future planning.”

The volunteer efforts were also an opportunity to learn more about the ecosystems in Marlborough's rivers. Photo: Corey Hebberd/Rangitāne o Wairau

Corey says while saving native species was the key aim, volunteers also took away other lessons.

“Volunteers also took the opportunity to learn more first-hand about their local waterways, creatures, and issues facing them.

“It was hard work checking weeds thoroughly for target species, but it was wonderful to see smiles on our tamariki’s faces when they found something alive to save.”

With Andy expecting the late-night call to result in a couple of attendees to help, he was incredibly pleased by the Saturday morning turnout.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do this without the great partnerships we have alongside our local iwi and community groups.

“It was a fantastic effort from Corey to pull the community together at such short notice, and likewise from everyone who came down, grabbed a rake and some gloves, and got stuck in.”

Marlborough App Logo
Marlborough App
Marlborough App is owned by Top South Media. a locally owned media company.