WBC has had a strong presence in Westport since 2005 when Jess Reedy took on the role of WBC coordinator through her role as a DoC ranger. Penny McIntosh and Suvi took over the WBC coordinator role from Jess in 2009. Nicky Armstrong joined the team in 2012. Welcome Nicky!
Westport has a strong whitebaiting culture so the programme has really focussed on having set monitoring sites and also in restoring Whitebait spawning habitat. Penny says "Westport is 87% bush so our focus is on getting the kids out to enjoy it". The Westport team are also linking the WBC programme to their Kiwi Rangers Course in Punakaiki. The Kiwi Ranger Programme gives primary children an opportunity to get into some awesome ranger activities including caving, geology of the Punakaiki Rocks, Rock Pool Studies and the Whitebait Connecting.
Schools engaged this past year were: 3 schools, 5 classes – 162 students. Karamea Area School, Westport South School, Westport North School.
They do WBC in three sites during Spring/ Summer:
1. Deadman’s Creek in Westport
2. Bakers Creek and Karamea Estuary in Karamea : Comparison Study
3. Punakaiki River in Punakaiki
They are also scoping a site at Waimangaroa. Have completed an initial site visit but found no adequate parking places. Purpose of additional site is as a comparison study in Westport. In addition, Buller DOC has four schools involved in whitebait spawning site restoration. St Canices school is planting out Wall’s Creek at Tauranga Bay and has conducted artificial spawning site research in accordance with Mike Hickford’s research at Canterbury University using straw bales. Now in its second year, this restoration has been a success and they've secured Holcim funding for the project.
Westport North has three classes planting out Mississippi Creek in Westport and Buller High School has been checking the straw bales for whitebait spawning.
Karamea Area School has adopted Oparara Southern Tributary and is restoring it.
Mississippi Creek is perfect as a Whitebait Connection Site and this has been discussed. Watch this space!