Local iwi in the Kapiti Coast have placed a rāhui on the Wharemauku Stream following the discovery of campylobacter on watercress.
The Wharemauku Stream runs through the Coastlands Shopping Mall, past the end of the Kāpiti Airport, and through residential areas before reaching the sea at Raumati Beach.
Pou Takawaenga Taiao, Environmental Manager for the iwi Mahina-a-Rangi Baker says, “The positive results were picked up as part of the new kaitiaki monitoring programme by Te Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai.
"The iwi has put a rāhui on the Wharemauku Stream to prevent the public from gathering any food, or having contact with water in the stream in order to limit the public health risk. This is the bug that caused the serious outbreak in 2016- spread through Havelock North’s drinking water.”
Medical Officer of Health Dr Stephen Palmer says, “Campylobacter infection can be a very serious illness for the elderly, very young [and] those with an impaired immune system who may require hospital treatment. On rare occasions the illness can be fatal.”
Symptoms usually appear 2 to 5 days after exposure and improve after 2 to 3 days.
The main symptoms are:
• diarrhoea, which may have blood in it.
• stomach pain or cramps, which may be severe.
• flu like symptoms, including headache, muscle pains, fever and fatigue (feeling very tired).
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has advised that all watercress harvested from any other local streams should be cooked before eaten and should not be consumed raw.
The Wharemauku Stream has traditionally been a source of food and enjoyment for not just the iwi, but the wider community. Te Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai is troubled by the worsening state of local waterways.
Baker says, “We must improve regulation on the types of land use that are driving pollution and contamination of waterways or the public’s health and well-being will continue to be at significant risk. We’ve surveyed our iwi to identify that 89% of them consume watercress that they harvest locally in small waterways."
The iwi is working with Kāpiti Coast District Council, Regional Public Health and Greater Wellington Regional Council to identify and fix the source of contamination.