Wellington stream threatened by port development
A Wellington stream that was once home to little blue penguins is now contaminated and threatened by future port development, a new report has revealed as the fight to save it heats up.
Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown is backing calls to save the Kaiwharawhara Stream and estuary.
The stream is the city's only waterway which still flows unpiped into the harbour.
The estuary banks were once the site of Kaiwharawhara Pa, one of the harbour's early settlements.
Ms Wade-Brown is supporting two conservation groups, Wellington Civic Trust and the Trelissick Park Group, which want the estuary to be restored and opened to walkers as part of the unfinished Sanctuary to Sea walkway and the Great Harbour Way.
A Boffa Miskell report last year showed that the stream and estuary were contaminated with high levels of lead and zinc and did not provide a good habitat for birds and fish.
Wellington City Council was open to providing funding for improving the estuary, Ms Wade-Brown said. "The minimum response [to the report] should be to protect it from further pollution, do some planting and preserve foot access.
"This may translate into modest restoration funding through our environmental grants, but only if other parties come to the table too."
Eventually, the Great Harbour Way should meet the Sanctuary to Sea walkway on the land immediately to the north of the estuary. The Great Harbour Way project aims to create a walking and cycling route around the harbour from Fitzroy Bay to Sinclair Head.
The Sanctuary to Sea Walkway runs from Zealandia to the bottom of Kaiwharawhara Rd.
The estuary is on reclaimed CentrePort land, and flows into Wellington Harbour next to the motorway, railway line and the Interislander ferry terminal.
CentrePort spokesman Nick Wareham could not rule out developing reclaimed land immediately north of the estuary. "In our master plan we do see that being used for port operational facilities."
But future plans would seek to preserve the estuary. CentrePort had contributed about $10,000 toward the report and was happy to accept its findings.
Trelissick Park group secretary Frances Lee, who has been lobbying for the improvement of the estuary since the 1990s, said the fact the estuary was not piped into the harbour made it worth enhancing. "It's so fortuitous the estuary has remained open to the sky."
Wellington Civic Trust chairman Alan Smith said getting public access to the estuary and its northern beach was the trust's first priority.
The Dominion Post