Hopes new study will help boost population of threatened NZ freshwater mussels, get them back on the menu

Lower North Island iwi and conservationists have launched an ambitious project in Wellington this weekend with an aim to boost the population of the at-risk New Zealand freshwater mussel.

Two hundred kākahi have been relocated from Wairarapa Moana and Lake Kohangapiri to Zealandia eco-sanctuary in Wellington.

Zealandia conservation project leader Pascale Michel said the endemic species is known as an 'ecological engineer' due to the fact one mussel can filter around a litre of water per hour.

"The two reasons why we’re bringing back the kākahi is one, to expand the range of the kākahi itself and give it a new habitat… but also the species is quite important for the ecosystem,"she said.

Kākahi are classed as at-risk by the Department of Conservation and are in decline.

Amber McEwan, Victoria University kākahi researcher and freshwater ecology scientist, said it’s not known how many New Zealand freshwater mussels there are around the country, but young mussels are hard to find in many of the areas they dwell.

Degrading water quality is one reason behind their decline, she said, believing the next decade will be critical for intervention to stop the species from reaching a threatened status.

This weekend's relocation is the start of an ongoing study for Ms McEwan, who will be monitoring how successful moving mussels to a new, suitable home is for boosting their survival.

"We’re going to tag all the kakahi with external microchips… to work out what it is they need… and just how we can manage translocations in the future cause hopefully we’ll be doing a lot more," she said.

Studying the mussels in their new home, the upper lake at Zealandia, will provide valuable information for others attempting projects to improve the survival of kākahi, she said.

Several iwi are involved in the project, with the species a taonga (treasure) that used to be an important food source for Māori.

Taranaki Whānui attended the mussel collection at Lake Kohangapiri with flax kete (baskets) made for the event, to hold the mussels before they were put in buckets for acclimatisation.

Harmony Wright, one of the kākahi relocators, said it was a good experience to be part of.

"It's our first time seeing kākahi," Perzia-Rose Wright said.

Te Āti Awa Taranaki Whānui trustee Holden Hohaia, of Ngāti Kuri descent, said iwi want to rejuvenate the mauri (essence) of the Kaiwharawhara Stream, with Zealandia's waters forming part of the top catchment.

"It's awesome. One of the opportunities we're really keen to explore is whether we can re-establish this taonga so that it's so abundant that we can actually harvest it for kai," he said.

"Who knows, there might even be an opportunity there to harvest it commercially if it's plentiful enough."

The transferred mussels will spend 10 days in quarantine at Zealandia before being released into the upper lake, where it's hoped they’ll get to work cleaning up their new home.

An experiment is underway in Wellington to try to boost the mussels' survival rates by giving some a new home. Source: 1 NEWS

Owner of dog who became internet sensation after Kawakawa escape speaks with Seven Sharp

A Bay of Islands woman told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp she is "never going to live this down" after footage of her rescue dog Lily dragging a bakery's flag down the main street of Kawakawa went viral around the globe.

CCTV footage of the freedom-seeking furball's runner — accompanied by Yakety Sax, the song made famous by the Benny Hill Show — has been viewed more than 500,000 times since it was posted to Facebook last night.

Lucie Green, a volunteer with Bay of Islands Animal Rescue, was taking the basset hound for a walk last week when she decided to stop at a local business to buy Lily a treat.

The basset hound, named Lily, was tied to a large flag outside a dairy. So she took the flag with her on her wild escape. Source: Facebook/James Mcdonald

But the Basset Hound received a fright and bolted despite being tied to a large Coca-Cola flag forcing Lucie to give chase.

"For an animal with just little legs, my god she can run," Lucie told Seven Sharp.

Lily, Lucie and the rogue flag brought Kawakawa's State Highway 1 strip to a standstill, the whole escapade captured on CCTV.

"My partner owns a local CCTV company I got to the office and I told him what had happened.

"He didn't tell me he'd done it, but he edited footage and put the music on and uploaded it to Facebook and tagged me in it.

"I knew it was trouble when basically by the time we'd gone to bed last night it had hit 100,000 views," Lucie said.

The basset hound, named Lily, was tied to a large flag outside a dairy. So she took the flag with her on her wild escape. Source: Facebook/James Mcdonald

Thousands of people have since commented on the video, with many of them admiring the dog’s spirit.

"I'm laughing my guts out it's so funny," wrote Facebook user Annie Hicks.

Lucie does see the funny side of events however.

"They say every dog has their day, so I guess Lily is enjoying her 15 mins of fame." 

Lily made a run for it when owner Lucie Green stopped at a shop in the Northland town. Source: Seven Sharp

Tracking down New Plymouth youth MP candidates after Andrew Little's 'hip' appeal

Labour MP Andrew Little released a tongue in cheek video encouraging young people from New Plymouth to get involved in politics today.

The video inspired TVNZ1's Seven Sharp to travel to Mr Little's old school to find the perfect candidate for its new youth MP.

Judge for yourself if New Plymouth Boys' High students Thomas Foy and Jarrod Wilson have what it takes in the video above.

Tamati Rimene-Sproat is on the case after the Labour MP's piece of political theatre. Source: Seven Sharp


Watch: Take a tour inside Kate Sheppard’s former house where suffragists worked to get women the right to vote

Suffragist Kate Sheppard's old house in Christchurch goes up for auction next month - so Seven Sharp host Hilary Barry took a tour.

Ms Sheppard was instrumental in gaining New Zealand women the right to vote in 1893. She carried out important work for the suffrage movement in the house during the late 19th Century.

Today saw celebrations around the country marking 125 years since women gained the right to vote in New Zealand.

Jacinda Ardern has indicated the Government is interested in buying the house for the nation. It's expected to fetch in excess of $3 million when it goes under the hammer on October 17.

Hilary Barry met with the home's current owner Julia Burbury who showed her around the dwelling set on one acre of gardens.

The house has a category one heritage listing.

The piece of New Zealand history in Christchurch, worth more than $3 million, is up for auction. Source: Seven Sharp

Mum distraught as son turned away from Hutt Valley High School because he didn't have permanent address

Being homeless has become an obstacle for one mother wanting to give her child an education.

Helen Taitapanui and her son were turned away from Hutt Valley High School last week because they don't have a permanent residential address.

Ms Taitapanui, is currently battling cancer and lives in a motel with her teenage son while they wait for a permanent home.

"We've got to be glad that we've got that when we know that a lot of our families are out there living in cars," Ms Taitapanui told 1 NEWS.

However, this was a problem when she tried to enrol her son at a local school.

"The response was it's against their policy to register children living out of a motel. you had to have a residential address," Ms Taitapanui said.

She complained to the Ministry of Education and shortly after Hutt Valley High School reversed its decision.

Ms Taitapanui says her son's excited about going back to school.

"I know once he steps back into the realm of education he'll be well and truly away."

She hopes by speaking out, another unnecessary obstacle will be removed for the homeless.

Being homeless threw up an unexpected obstacle for a mum wanting to educate her child. Source: 1 NEWS