Two major long-term scientific studies have chosen the Whau River as a research site in work underway to help better understand the risk to our waterways posed by microplastics and contaminants.
The studies, involving organisations and leading specialists in this field, are also aiming to get the community, industry and policymakers working together on solutions.
Jamie Ataria from Cawthron Institute, and Grant Northcott from Northcott Research Consultants, spoke about the studies at EcoHub’s November Market Day event.
“It was great to have these leading scientists with us to explain more about these studies so we can better understand the impacts of our activities and behaviours on the health of Te Wai Whau (the Whau River), ” says Damon Birchfield, EcoMatters Environment Trust CEO.
“We see this as an amazing opportunity to work with both scientists and our local community to care for and improve the health of our local awa.”
One of the studies looks at the effects of emerging organic contaminants (EOCs), which are natural or manufactured chemicals often found in common household and personal care products, medicines, and agrichemicals.
It aims to identify which EOCs are most prevalent in our waterways and the risks these pose to both human health and the health of ecosystems. Their potential for accumulation in food and the role EOCs play in the development of antimicrobial resistance will also be investigated.
The other study is part of a national research programme to investigate the threat microplastics (pieces of plastic less than 5mm in size) pose to New Zealand’s ecosystems, animals, and people.
This project selected two geographically distinct case study sites, with different human impacts and potential microplastic sources. One site is in the Nelson-Tasman area, representing a mountain-to-sea study site.
The other site, the Whau River, has been chosen as an example of a metropolitan urban site, with a catchment that includes urban and industrial areas, reflecting a range of inputs such as urban stormwater and litter, commercial/industrial site runoff and combined sewage overflows.
Learn more about the Emerging Organic Contaminants study on the Cawthron Institute website here.
Learn more about the Aotearoa Impacts and Mitigations of Microplastics study on the Environmental Scientific Research website here.
EcoHub Market Day a Huge Success
Hundreds of people headed to the EcoMatters Environment Trust in Olympic Park, for the EcoHub Market Day during November 2020.
The sun shone as visitors browsed stalls, attended free workshops and enjoyed the whānau-friendly activities, all focused on supporting our community to restore nature, reduce waste, ride and fix bikes, grow food and live more sustainably.
Many visitors took the opportunity to buy eco-friendly products, rescued resources and pre-loved bikes, with all proceeds going back into helping EcoMatters continue its work.
Highlights included a talk from Robin Taua-Gordon, Heritage and Environment Officer from Te Kawerau a Maki, exploring the local iwi’s history and connections to the Whau River. There were also leading scientists from two long-term scientific studies into the effects of contaminants and microplastics on the health of the Whau River.
Thanks to The Trusts Community Foundation and Whau Local Board for supporting the event. Find out more about EcoMatters at ecomatters.org.nz
Some highlights below: (Photos: EcoMatters Environment Trust)