Te Wai o Pareira River Care meeting


Report by O A Mills

On 27 February 2019, Ivan and I attended a meeting at Te Atatu Peninsula Community Centre. The meeting was called by the newly formed Te Wai o Pareira River Care Group, a group of residents concerned with pollution in Henderson Creek (Te Wai O Pareira) headed by Chris Ballantyne.

It was appropriate to attend both as a member of the Riverpark Action Group and as a resident who resides on the banks of the Huruhuru Creek which flows into Te Wai o Pareira.

The purpose of the meeting was twofold;  1 – to gain an insight into which local authorities were responsible for the wellbeing of the waterways including Te Wai o Pareira and the tributaries surrounding and feeding into it, and 2 – the organising group wished to gain an idea of the level of support for their group.

Local authorities were well represented; local board members, local councillors, Watercare, SwimSafe, Healthy Waters and Community Waitakere were in attendance and spoke to the subject.

One positive outcome for me was the clarification around who we can call to report incidences of pollution. This useful information is provided below.

  • Stormwater pollution including pollutions being discharged into creeks and streams and air pollution including smoke from fires or odours and dust from building sites and quarries are to be reported to the Pollution Hotline 09 377 3107, this is a 24 hour hotline.
  • To report waste on a beach or park, illegal dumping contact Auckland Council on 09 3010101.
  • To report sewer overflows or faults with the water wains supply contact Watercare Services on 09 442 2222 (Press 1) or free text 3130.
  • To report oil or pollution at sea contact the Harbourmaster on 09 3620397 (Press 1).

The next steps for the Group are to convert interest into action. Future future plans include volunteer water testing and river monitoring, arranging river clean ups, being a strong voice to network and liaise with the authorities, bring the history of the area to life and identify and research contaminated sites. Our group already does some water-testing of the Lower Swanson Stream, which runs behind the location of the Woodside Community Garden.

It was good to make contact with Chris Burton (Community Waitakere – Team Leader Project Twin Streams) who along with his team are visiting the Lower Swanson Stream regularly to check on the breeding ground of the Inanga and his team will meet us at Woodside Community Garden on 23 March to give us an insight into their work.

Since the meeting I have kept in touch with Chris Ballantyne and pledged to support as time and resources permit – I am sure we all agree with Chris “the authorities can’t do it on their own.  The river needs advocacy, and needs guardians.”

To contact the Te Wai o Pareira River Care group, please email info@rivercaregroup.org


Riverpark Reserve playground consultation

Update to this story here

Great news! The consultation process has started. You can complete the survey online here up until 10pm on October 7: https://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/have-your-say/topics-you-can-have-your-say-on/upgrades-riverpark-reserve/Pages/default.aspx

There will also be the opportunity to meet with Auckland Council staff in person onsite at the existing playground location on Thursday 27 September from 2pm -4pm. Our liaison person is Lucy Ullrich and the designer will also be there so we’re hoping lots of people will come along with their ideas to discuss what can be done. The playground has slowly been shrinking over the years so we’re very excited about finally managing to persuade people that we deserve an upgrade. We are also keen to get fitness stations installed and are working with the Lions Henderson-West Auckland to see how that funding can be obtained. You will notice that there are some questions about fitness stations in the survey. The more positive the responses to these questions, the better support we will have to lend to our funding application. Please have your say!

Riverpark Playground Upgrade

Clean up the creekside – Sunday 16 Sept


We decided to participate in the GJ Gardner Homes Clean Up Week by picking up rubbish in the small area of bush at the start of Woodside Road, Massey. Gloves and bags were provided and we had permission to take all of the rubbish to the Waitakere Refuse and Recycling Station. Seven volunteers (Nicole, Susan, Olga, Alix, Ivan, Lois and Jacqui) turned up this morning promptly at 10am and we managed to collect a whopping 280kg of rubbish!

10 bags were filled with general rubbish and 4 bags were recyclables. We also picked up a tyre, some kitchen cabinet doors (melamine), 2 packets of Noel Leeming leaflets  as well as a few straws and soft drink containers with domed lids. There was a large quantity of treated wood and particle wood. This was really disappointing because someone had obviously been doing some renovating and just dumped the old wood into our small patch of reserve. This kind of thing doesn’t break down for a long time and also isn’t safe for our environment and our creek, the Lower Swanson Stream.

We took a break half-way through to enjoy some watermelon ice-blocks, thanks Ivan for cycling down to the dairy to get them and Olga for shouting them!

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Magic Rocked @ Woodside!

Riverpark-Action-Group-Magic-Rocks-@Woodside-efWe were delighted to welcome so many friends and neighbours to our free event yesterday. We were celebrating Neighbours Day Aotearoa 2018 as well as being part of the EcoWest Festival 2018.

NeighboursDay2018Our theme for the day Magic Rocks@Woodside was a great success with 27 children managing to find painted rocks in return for a prize. In keeping with EcoWest and Woodside Community Garden, our prizes were garden-orientated with each child receiving a tool belt with garden tools along with either a packet of Sunflower seeds (courtesy of Yates NZ) or a LittleGarden (courtesy of New World). They also had the chance to paint their own rock to take away and we hope some of those rocks will later be hidden in parks as part of Westie Rocks! Nicole was in charge of the rock hunt and prize-giving as keeping an eye on the painting activities, which proved challenging at times while being a lot of fun! She also took lovely photos of all of our winners – see below…


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Sausages donated by Tegel NZ and falafels (vegan/vegetarian option) were expertly cooked by Olga on our new portable barbeque, its first outing, purchased with funding from the Community Organisation Grants Scheme (COGS). Woodside Community Garden volunteer and herb expert Karyn provided her signature rhubarb tea, using rhubarb from the garden with complementary fresh herbs from the garden added on the day by Gilles. It was good to see Henderson-Massey Local Board members Shane Henderson (Chair) and Brenda Brady making the effort to come and meet locals.


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This year, we decided it would be great to have some music down at the park during the event so Olga organised for Lauren Collins to sing for us. It really added to the atmosphere and everyone really enjoyed it. Kids blowing bubbles in the sunshine added a bit of stagecraft to the scene… Check out Lauren’s YouTube channel, link below.


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Laszlo with the raffle prize

We held a free raffle for adults with Monique our prime mover in handing out tickets (one per person). The prize was a lime tree, green string bag, 2 bottles of Yates fertilizer spray (one for citrus) donated by Yates, a New Zealand calendar and a large plastic tub (to take it all away in!). The raffle was won by Helen and was picked up from Monique by her son Laszlo yesterday afternoon (photo at right). Congratulations Helen and happy gardening!

We’d like to extend a big thank you to the following who made our event possible; Henderson-Massey Local Board/Community Waitakere (Neighbours Day grant of $200), Yates NZ (Sunflower seeds and 2 x Yates spray guns), Tegel NZ (chicken sausages). We would also like to thank Nova for coming along prepared to provide Storytime for the children though the attraction of finding and painting rocks proved a little too exciting for most.

Special thanks to Sinead from Auckland Council for organising the essential portaloo for the day from Park and Maintenance Services (Ian). We couldn’t have managed without one. Plus all of the volunteers and friends who helped with set-up and break-down. Thanks guys!


Hear and see more from Lauren Collins on her YouTube channel…


Volunteers raise funds for garden

Members of the Riverpark Action Group (and their family members!) along with Woodside Community Garden volunteers gave up some of their free time last weekend to raise funds for the garden by running a sausage sizzle at Mitre 10 MEGA Henderson. The event was a success as we made a profit of $411.80 for the garden. We’d like to thank Mitre 10 for giving us the opportunity to participate and for providing the BBQ and gas. Thanks go to everyone who bought a sausage from us. It is very much appreciated!



How clean is our stream?

View up the creek

Well, we would like to know as we are keen to keep an eye on the health of our local stream, the Lower Swanson Stream. The stream is located behind Woodside Road (and Woodside Reserve) and flows into the Huruhuru Creek, where it mingles with the salt water adjacent to Riverpark Reserve. The stream is very popular with local children for swimming even though it had tonnes of concrete put into it by Waitakere City Council in 2006 in a misguided attempt to make a local water hole safe when this simply wasn’t possible.

The links below tell some of the story:

New Zealand Herald http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10370607


Shotcrete NZ – the contractor that carried out the work – http://www.shotcretenz.co.nz/gallery/3/

We managed to make contact with Shelley Hackett, who runs the Wai Care program within Auckland Council and arranged for her to show us how to test the water quality on Saturday 7 October. We expected Shelley to show up with a few bottles that we would fill and drop in somewhere…

However, we found out from Shelley that there is much more to it than this. After going through the OSH requirements, we are handed a monitoring sheet that we will complete during our session and Selina volunteered to be our record keeper for the session. The results will later be entered onto the Wai Care website. So, our group of volunteers is now the proud owner of an official Wai Care water quality testing kit! We will be carrying out the testing 4 times per year. If there has been heavy rainfall, we need to wait and do the testing 2 days later.

How do we do the testing?
Well, first you need to know what location is best. At the moment, our stream is flowing fast because there’s extra volume due to all of the rain we have had this winter. Obviously, the centre of the fast moving stream isn’t suitable. Similarly, you don’t want to sample in the very shallow muddy regions. Fortunately for us, we have an area that we can sample fairly safely where the water is deep enough but not fast flowing. This is where we used to fill up our watering cans for the garden.

We have 2 testing kits. One contains the physical tests and the other is for the biological tests. High quality water should be cool and clear. We carried out the following tests under instruction from Shelley.

Stream temperature and air temperature – The thermometer needs to be held under the water in the middle of the water column for one minute. It’s best to measure it in the same location every time. Monique agrees to be the timer as it’s important to be consistent. Shelley takes the stream temperature first, then Gilles has a go as the first thermometer is faulty.

Shelley takes the temperature

The ideal temperature is below 15 degrees Celsius. Our stream temperature is 14.5 degrees Celsius so we’re happy with that. The next thing is the air temperature. For this, the thermometer should be placed away from direct sunlight for one minute. Monique takes over the role of timing as this is critical for the testing to be consistent.

Dissolved oxygen – the sample container should be rinsed out with the stream water first and then filled up to the correct line. Then a glass ampoule is placed into the container and broken. The stream water then enters the ampoule and fills it. Now we have to agitate the ampoule for 30 seconds and then wait for 2 minutes. Then it’s time to compare the colour and intensity of our ampoule with the supplied colour chart. Not as easy as it looks but we manage it and our value is…9!

Checking out the dissolved oxygen level

To check how clean the stream water is, there are 3 different tests; pH (alkalinity/acidity), phosphate (e.g. fertiliser contamination), nitrites/nitrates (indicates presence of sewerage).

pH test – We have concrete in our creek thanks to Waitakere City Council so we might expect the water to be more alkaline. Run off from roads results in water becoming more acidic. The average should be between 6-8.5. Shelley tells us that we should call the Pollution Hotline if we measure values outside this range. We should also take photos of the location. The dip stick is easy to use and we just need to compare the coloured swatches on the box with our test strip. Our result is pH 7; we’re happy with that!

Phosphate test – First we rinse the two vials with the stream water (this can be done with water collected in a bucket). The vials should be filled to the 5 ml line and need to be the same. One is the control sample (won’t have reagents added to it). The other one gets 7 drops of Reagent A (sulphuric acid base) and is mixed. Then 1 drop of the more viscous Reagent B (also has a sulphuric acid base) is added. The two vials are then compared on top of a colour chart. Our phosphate level is very low, 0.025 so this is good news.

Nitrites/nitrates – For this test, we have a dip stick with patches on it that change colour. The dip stick is dipped into the bucket of water for just one second. We wait 30 seconds and read the nitrite colour. For the nitrates, we wait 60 seconds. Unfortunately there seems initially to be a problem with our dip sticks but Shelley thinks it’s fine so we have a reading of 0.075 for nitrites and 0.5 for nitrates.

Clarity test – this is the really fun part and tests our volunteers eyesight as well. A glass cylinder is filled up with the stream water. Inside the cylinder is a magnet. Another magnet (wand) is used to draw the other magnet along the cylinder towards the top (where the bubble is) while someone looks through. The point at which the magnet disappears from sight is the measurement. Selina, Monique, Nicole and Gilles all take a turn and we get measurements of 62, 60, 63 and 66 making the average 62.5. This value measures how far animals can see in the water, i.e. the degree of clarity/turbidity. The highest value you can get is 95 and the average is 40-60. Less than 30 is not good and should be reported. We’re comfortable with being at the top end of the average for now. Our main challenge with this one is making sure we don’t lose the magnet; Shelley advises us to pour the water out into a bucket before tipping it back into the stream, seems like a good idea.

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The last part of the testing is to evaluate which creatures inhabit our stream, i.e. look for presence or absence. In our case, it’s difficult to access the stream banks and we don’t have rocks, logs that we can access for sampling under which some of the “green” species would inhabit. Shelley goes on the hunt for likely habitats with a large net while we have a look at the photos of the animals we’ll be looking for. Ideally, we’ll have a mix of the green (high sensitivity), orange and red (low sensitivity) classified creatures but today we only have orange and red.

Our collection includes  shrimp, beetle, amphipods, midge, damselfly, cranefly, flatworm snails., Shelley tells us not to be discouraged as it’s probably just a matter of not being able to access their habitats. How can we create habitats that we can access for sampling without blocking up the stream with logs…? We’ll have to think about this one. Shelley offers to come back once a year to help us with this as it’s quite hard for our untrained eyes to identify these critters.

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