Tamariki for Tuna - Longfin Eel Education

Photo by Alton Perrie

Since 2017, Conservation Volunteers NZ (CVNZ) have partnered with Mobil Oil NZ (MONZ) to deliver our threatened species programme – Tamariki for Tuna in Auckland and Wellington. Over this time we have engaged with over 50 schools and Scout groups to educate tamariki (children) on the significance of the longfin eel/tuna kuwharuwharu and the freshwater ecosytems they are a part of. We hope through education and becoming actively involved in conservation via riparian planting, water testing and litter clean ups we will instill a sense of guardianship in our tamariki, creating a generation dedicated to protecting our freshwater ecosystems opposed to engaging in harmful practices like littering and eeling.

Since the programme began, nearly 2000 tamariki have participated in our eel education events. Over the years, we have been fortunate to have some reoccuring groups who have joined us for multiple events, as well as some particularly large groups with up to 100 students at a single event!

We are currently seeking schools and groups who would like to join us for a day of eel education in 2023! 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, followed by a variety of hands on activites including water quality testing, tree planting, plant releasing and/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.

In Aotearoa New Zealand our swamps, rivers, lakes and streams are filled with an array of life, incuding our endemic tuna kūwharuwharu. Tuna kuwharuwharu have graced our waterways for over 23 million years and are regarded as a taonga (treasure). They are an incredibly unique species, living to over 100 years of age and spending the majority of their lives in NZ’s waterways before migrating to the deep ocean trenches off the coast of Tonga. As NZ’s top freshwater predator, tuna play a significant role in our freshwater ecosystems and are extremely important to the biodiversity of our waterways. Sadly, tuna kūwharuwharu are currently classified by the Department of Conservation (DOC) as ‘chronically threatened in gradual decline.’ The main causes of their decline are all attributed to human acitivities, including increased pollution, deforestation, the draining of wetlands, overfishing and the construction of dams and culverts.

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