Cockle count indicates health of Pāuatahanui Inlet
About 90 people of all ages gathered at the Pāuatahanui Inlet recently, donning gumboots in preparation to take part in the tenth cockle count in the area.
This survey is carried out every three years by the Guardians of the Pāuatahanui Inlet, with the help of funding and volunteers from Greater Wellington Regional Council, along with volunteers from the local community.
Councillor Jenny Brash, who is proud to have taken part in the survey this year as she has done for many years, says it is a fantastic initiative that provides valuable information on the health of the inlet.
Greater Wellington Biodiversity Advisor Micheline Evans says attendees counted and measured cockles in 24 sites in the area, with a further six sites to go before the survey is complete. NIWA will then analyse the results.
The event seems to have taken longer this year than others, prompting optimism that this was due to increasing numbers of cockles in the inlet.
One of the key threats to harbour health is sedimentation. Building and roading developments, farming on steep hills, forestry harvesting, and stream-bank erosion all contribute sediment into the harbour.
“Monitoring cockles helps us to understand how threats like sedimentation are affecting the ecological health of the harbour,” Micheline says.
“Local communities can help with the reduction of sedimentation too, by doing things like planting trees on their own land which reduces erosion and sediment loss, and washing their cars on the grass rather than their driveways so contaminants do not flow through the stormwater drains into the harbour.
“This project is part of a collaborative effort between councils, mana whenua and other organisations to look after Te Awarua-o-Porirua Harbour and catchment. Greater Wellington is proud to support the count both for the information it provides and for the opportunity it offers the community to be actively involved,” Micheline says.
Once the final report from the cockle count is released by NIWA, it will be shared on the Guardians of the Pāuatahanui Inlet website.
If you would like to get in touch with Greater Wellington about future projects of this kind, email Biodiversity@gw.govt.nz