Kākahi cleaning the waterways

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

200 Kākahi mussels are being translocated from Parangarahu Lakes and Wairarapa Moana to a sanctuary. Zealandia Co-Ordinator Pascale Michel says the freshwater mussel species are nationally in decline.

Kākahi is a freshwater mussel species that play an integral part in water quality.

Pascale Michel, Zelandia Co-ordinator says, “Today we're here for the Kākahi translocation, and it's to bring back the Kākahi to Zealandia, but it's also part of a bigger project which is looking restoring waterways in the Kaiwharawhara catchment.”

The Zealandia Eco-Sanctuary is relocating them with the help of Taranaki Whānui, Rangitāne o Wairarapa, and Ngāti Kahungunu.

Speaking on behalf of Taranaki Iwi Whānui, Holden Hohaian says, “We the mana whenua are working together with Zealandia to restore the quality of the Kaiwharawhara stream.”

Lead Scientist Amber McEwan says they are known as 'ecological engineers', with a single mussel filtering up to a litre of water per hour.

“They have an amazing filtering capacity so they filter feed and while they suck in the water the fix particles out of it so they can take dirty water and make it clean again,” says Amber McEwan.

Hohaia hopes it will one day become a food source for the people.

“Until a time when there are enough Kākahi for us all to gather as food,” says Hohaia.

Pascale Michel says this is the first step in a ten-year plan to restore the Kaiwharawhara catchment.