In 1969, the Clive River which is situated in the Hawke's Bay region was redirected to control flooding in the area however the redirection meant reduced water flow and resulted in the river being unable to self-clean properly. Now more than 40 years later the river is nothing but a watery wasteland.
Tom McGuire and his Operation Pātiki team have been trying to do something about the rivers state for the last six years. Tom says, “It's a big dream for us to get our awa back to how it used to be and it can happen.”
In earlier days the river used to flow with vast amounts of flounder, however with the amount of pollution affecting the river ways, the precious fish has slowly begun to disappear.
It is unusual for Tom and his crew to catch and release flounder however he’s well aware of the fish’s reduction and aims to replenish the river with flounder.
Another factor that has been contributing to the depletion of flounder is the lack of trees providing shade along the river banks. This means fish habitats are limited.
Kohupātiki Marae, which resides in the rural settlement of Clive between Hasting and Napier is slowly trying to work its way back to being self-sufficient.
Bevan Taylor says, “We've come to terms with it now, but the main thing is to restore our river, even though we are angry inside, we've got a lot of work to do to fix it.”
The marae has been planting thousands of native trees in the last few years along the river banks to provide much needed shade to hopefully create more fish habitats.
The Hawke's Bay Regional Council supported the project and say there's no easy solution to restoring the health of the river.
For Tom and the crew and the people of Kohupātiki marae, they are prepared to do whatever it takes and however long it takes, to see their famed flounder once again filling their river.