Opawa School pupils passionate about whitebait

PASSIONATE: Enrico Roy, Aaliyah and Saoirse got ready to present their speeches on whitebait conservation in the Heathcote and other rivers to the city council.

Opawa School pupils presented the city council with a message on saving the whitebait in the rivers.

At a city council meeting last week Enrico Roy, Aaliyah and Saoirse made speeches about increasing awareness of whitebait and their spawning habitat.

The children have been taking part in an Environment Investigators project for the past few months that is part of the Whitebait Connection programme. During the programme the pupils learnt about whitebait by reading books, visiting spawning spots in the Heathcote River and helping improve whitebait habitats.

During their presentation to the city council last week the pupils asked city council contractors to stop mowing long grass around river banks which are important whitebait spawning areas, to plant more trees near rivers for insects to live in, to introduce a day where everyone picks up rubbish to reduce pollution in waterways and for more rubbish bins along river banks.

EOS Ecology scientist Siobhan Culhane said the children were very knowledgeable and passionate about having whitebait around in the future.

The Council has already introduced a trial where mowing on riverbanks is halted during summer and autumn, while spawning is taking place. It is working to educate the public about why the grass is being left to grow so long.

Council Land Drainage Manager Keith Davison said along with providing habitat for whitebait to lay their eggs, the longer grass would help reduce erosion and filter contaminants, stopping them from getting into waterways.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel thanked the children for their “incredibly professional” presentations.