Waitara High School Mangahinau Stream study

Department of Conservation —  06/05/2019

– Guest blog by Ellen Squire, DOC Community Ranger

Textbook results and real-life backyard science made for a fun day out last month with Waitara High students. Close to 40 year 10 students collaborated with two Rangers from the Department of Conservation, the local education officer from Taranaki Regional Council, along with Otaraua Hapu and Waitara Alive, to explore the Mangahinau Stream.

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Waitara High teacher and students getting stuck in. 📷: Waitara Alive


This stream has been an ongoing project for the local Taranaki office and the Waitara community, with pest plant and rubbish clearing, and extensive planting and fencing being carried out over the past seven years.

This stream provides a great example of riparian planting and fencing (and lack of it) and the influence it has on both native and pest fish as well as instream habitat. Students worked together to check a series of gee-minnow traps along the stream and to also record basic information such as temperature, stream bed composition and water clarity.

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Taranaki Regional Council Educator Emily Roberts checking out the clarity of the planted area. 📷: Waitara Alive


The results were textbook! It was amazing how clear cut the students’ findings were, with only galaxiids and bullies found in the cool, shaded riparian planted areas, and gambusia in the un-fenced area! The water was also a couple of degrees warmer in the un-planted area, with water clarity reducing significantly the further we went from the native planted area.

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Walking to the un-fenced, un-planted end of the stream. 📷: Waitara Alive


The students, who were a bit hesitant about traipsing along the stream bank and looking at fish, became really engaged as the day progressed. Going from a class session the day before, to carrying out real science in their own backyard was great for the kids, and it was awesome to see how they got stuck in.


Finding native fish. 📷: Waitara Alive

Finding native fish.jpg

Finding native fish. 📷: Waitara Alive


The students will now analyse their results and present them to the Waitara community in an information evening coming up next term. The land owner’s granddaughter was one of the students who participated, so watch this space! This was a great, easy to teach example of how we can improve in-stream habitats in urban areas and how easily we can influence local environments.

DOC Rangers Denise Rowland and Ellen Squire

DOC Rangers Denise Rowland and Ellen Squire setting up the fish traps. 📷: Waitara Alive

One response to Waitara High School Mangahinau Stream study


    This is a wonderful example of educational engagement. Well done! All we need now is for all districts to pick up on this. Waipa (in the Waikato) already has a great programme.