Regional | Environment

Stream pollution angers Owhiro Bay residents

Mokai Kainga Māori Centre and Owhiro Bay residents are concerned about the state of the Owhiro stream and its inhabitants. CEO of Mokai Kainga Mark Forsyth says the recent floods have brought down more toxins from rubbish tips upstream killing the endangered eels and making the food gardens too toxic to eat.

The last remaining open stream in Wellington is at risk of being unsafe for future generations.

Forsyth told Te Kāea, “We’ve taken them out of their habitat. That to us is not very good. Spiritually its bad for us, spiritually it’s bad for everybody around here. I feel it’s just a front to the environment that’s been around for a long time.”

The Owhiro Bay stream has been home to an abundance of long-fin eels. Residents and kaitiaki of Owhiro stream are angry that toxins have killed some of the endangered eels, affected the health of the water and contaminated the food gardens.

“When the tuna are here you know that the water is clean and healthy, and the land and kai will grow well, but the recent floods and the pollution from upstream has killed some of them, and they haven't been able to come back. That’s when you know the awa is sick.”

The landfill was fined following a similar incident in November. Forsyth says that apologies have been made but the problem has become so bad now that residents are being directly affected and the stream isn't getting any better.

“The pollution has been so bad that we've been told that we have to wash our kai, or deep boil it very heavily before even using it.”

Forsyth says the Wellington Regional Council is working with the landfill companies on a plan to prevent the streams from being polluted. In the meantime, he hopes the eels return home.