150 tonnes of tubeworm removed from estuary

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

One hundred and fifty tonnes of tubeworm colonies has so far been removed from the Ahuriri Esturary in Hawke's Bay, a staggering amount that was restricting the water flow in the estuary, a place that was once a traditional food source for the hapū of Mana Ahuriri.

"The problem is when you get so much of them is that they start to cut off the flow like over there you start to see a problem between the tidal exchange between the upper and the lower estuary," explains Anna Madarasz-Smith, senior coastal scientist at the Hawke's Bay Regional Council.

"Our aim is to reduce it in it's biomass or the amount of it so much that we can actually restore the functions of the estuary that have been impinged by it."

It's staggering size is thought to have developed by a number of stresses like sediment, nutrients and storm water run-off.

"This used to be the place that our nannies would come to collect food as well as bring the children here to swim, but now you don't see any children swimming here because it's too polluted," says Mana Ahuriri Trust chairman, Piri Prentice.

Mana Ahuriri Trust is the settlement entity for the Ahuriri historical claims and is working with local councils and DOC to clean up the 9km estuary.

"For a number of years Maori have had no play in how that estuary is looked after the estuary is in a mess at the moment and so on that basis we negotiated a statutory committee," says Prentice.

The tubeworm is part of the eco-system here and the removal work is more about reducing it rather than elimination.