The Waimapihi Stream (often referred to simply as Waimapihi) has become a key focus for a local group named the Polhill Protectors, or Ngā Kaimanaaki o te Waimapihi. The Aro Valley-based community group formed in 2014, after the discovery of a tīeke nest in the Polhill Reserve. This was the first recorded tīeke nest outside of a sanctuary and on the mainland in 100 years.
Since then, the Polhill volunteers have been maintaining traplines, planting trees, managing invasive weeds and endeavouring to restore the native forest to what it looked like pre-colonisation (for example, bringing podocarps back and plants that provide stream shelter). Ngā Kaimanaaki o te Waimapihi / Polhill Protectors run planting and weeding days to bring the Aro Valley community on board, and the local brewery sponsors this work with a bevvy for volunteers.
Nestled in the bush between Wellington and Zealandia, the Polhill Reserve has experienced a noticeable increase in birdlife over the last decade - a spill-over from the ecosanctuary, where native species are nurtured and protected thanks to an 8.6km predator-proof fence line.
An illustration of the Polhill Reserve.
“Our kaupapa is co-existing with the people, the birds, and the bush peacefully – being responsible pet-owners, trapping pests, planting trees. We’re trying to lay down the welcome mat for these taonga travelling over the fence,” says co-leader Shelby Stoneburner.
Receiving the eDNA results
Ngā Kaimanaaki o te Waimapihi / Polhill Protectors were one of the first participants in Wai Tūwhera o te Taiao – Open Waters Aotearoa, and have been helping us to develop the programme since early last year.
The group took samples from four different waterways in the Polhill Reserve, including Waimapihi, to see what species might be benefiting (or not, in the case of rats!) from their efforts.
“We weren’t sure what to expect. We knew Waimapihi was doing slightly better than other urban streams nearby, but our only evidence for that was from watching the streams and spotlighting at night. When the eDNA results came through it was really magical. We found out there were ruru around, and banded kōkopu…even tuna,” says co-leader Jim Mitford Taylor.
Lisa Whittle, co-founder of Ngā Kaimanaaki o te Waimapihi/Polhill Protectors and advocate for pest-free forests says, “It was really exciting that tuna came all the way up from near Te Papa, under the streets, and up through the culvert here to Waimapihi. It’s amazing really.”
See the sample results from the lower Waimapihi Stream
Explore the map
Listen to RNZ Nights interview, following Bryan Crump’s sample of a tributary of Waimapihi.
Co-leaders Jim Mitford-Taylor (left) and Shelby Stoneburner (right) sporting t-shirts sold by Ngā Kaimanaaki o te Waimapihi / Polhill Protectors for fundraising.