Tamariki for Tuna: Longfin Eel Education

Learn about the longfin eel with Conservation Volunteers New Zealand

Photo by Alton Perrie

An eely good education programme

Since 2017, we have partnered with Mobil Oil NZ to deliver our threatened species programme Tamariki for Tuna. The programme aims to educate tamariki about the tuna kuwharuwharu (longfin eel). We run Tamariki for Tuna in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland and Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington. 

Over the past seven years, we have engaged with over 60 schools and Scout groups to educate tamariki on the significance of the tuna kuwharuwharu and the freshwater ecosystems they depend on. 



The next generation of kaitiaki mō te taiao
(guardians of nature)

We hope our education programme sparks a sense of kaitiakitanga (guardianship) in our tamariki. By teaching them about this incredible native species, we hope to inspire the next generation to protect our environment and oppose harmful practices like littering and eeling.



Since the programme began, more than 2,600 tamariki, teachers and guardians have participated in our eel education events. Over the past year alone, 1,026 participants have planted 8,380 native trees, shrubs and grasses along our waterways, removed 11,700 m2 of weeds and collected 106 kg of litter.

Over the years, we have been fortunate to have groups return for multiple events. We have also had some particularly large groups – we once had up to 100 students at a single event!


Would your school or youth group like to get

Our Tamariki for Tuna events include a fun and educational talk on the importance of tuna, their unique life-cycle and ways to protect them. We then take tamariki out for a variety of hands on activities like water quality testing, tree planting, plant releasing or litter clean ups. 

Each event is led by our qualified and knowledgeable team leaders who all possess first aid and defensive driving certifications. CVNZ provides all of the tools and equipment needed on the day including gloves and high-vis vests. We will be hosting these events along the Ōwhiro Stream in Wellington and the Papakura Stream in Auckland.


You can learn more about the longfin eel and download our free educational resources here:

We will be hosting these events along the Ōwhiro Stream in Wellington and the Papakura Stream in Auckland.


Why we need to protect tuna

Tuna kuwharuwharu have graced our waterways for over 23 million years and are regarded as a taonga species. They are remarkable and fascinating creatures.

Incredible facts about tuna kuwharuwharu:

  • They can live for more than a hundred years
  • They can grow up to 2 m long
  • The heaviest tuna ever recorded was 40 kg
  • They spend most of their life in the rivers and streams of Aotearoa
  • When they are ready to breed, they migrate all the way to the deep ocean trenches off the coast of Tonga to lay eggs
  • Baby eels are called elvers
  • They are legendary climbers and can scale a waterfall 20 m high!
  • They are Aotearoa’s top freshwater predator
Sadly, tuna kūwharuwharu are now an endangered species. The main causes of their decline are all related to human activities. Pollution, deforestation, wetland draining, overfishing and the construction of dams and culverts have all led to the decline of tuna. 

For more information, or to get involved in the Tamariki for Tuna programme please contact Siobhan at [email protected] or call 0800 567 686.