Wellington artists joining forces with scientists to restore unloved Lower Hutt stream site

The Inanga Love Park team is made up of a mixture of scientists, artists and conservationists.
SUPPLIED/DIONNE WARD

The Inanga Love Park team is made up of a mixture of scientists, artists and conservationists.

Engineering, science and art are set to collide thanks to Wellingtonians working to support increased spawning of inanga - a type of whitebait. 

A five-strong group of artists and scientists have begun work on Inanga Love Park, in the hope they can restore a spawning ground at the bottom of Korokoro Stream.

Multi-media artist Kedron Parker said the project, which would include new planting and a large mural, would come to life in time for next year's Common Ground: Public Art Festival in February.

The group has already begun planting along the Korokoro Stream ahead of the February public art festival.
SUPPLIED/KEDRON PARKER

The group has already begun planting along the Korokoro Stream ahead of the February public art festival.

"We already knew we wanted to do something and so when we found out about it [the festival] we said yes. This is a great opportunity."

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The main aim of the restoration project will be to raise awareness of - and connect the community to - the stream site and it's wildlife.

Inanga lay their eggs above normal river levels within vegetation that is flooded by spring tides.
SUPPLIED/NIWA

Inanga lay their eggs above normal river levels within vegetation that is flooded by spring tides.

Parker was excited to be working with those from other fields who would offer different perspectives on the project.

"Working with the scientists helps me understand the stream and the wildlife better and that influences the kind of artistic response that I have to the site.

"The more information I have, the more informed and meaningful the art can be."

Members of the Growing Places Charitable Trust had already begun planting on the stretch of dry mud near the Lower Hutt stream-bed and work on designing the mural was underway.

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"The long game in this is to create the infrastructure that not only preserves stream ecosystems, but enhances them for the wildlife and the people who want to interact with it."

Working alongside Parker is ecological engineer Stu Farrant, who works in ecological restoration and urban water management.

He was more than happy to get involved with the project and provide the expert scientific knowledge about the area and its issues. 

"Right across Wellington, streams have been cut off from the harbour, so in the city we've got a lot of streams that are severed before they get to the coast.

"We're quite unique in that a lot of our fish have to migrate to the sea for their breeding cycle, so that whole thing has been cut off."

However, Farrant said there were still a few remaining "little gems" around, including the Korokoro Stream site which he hoped the people would want to learn more about through the Inanga project.

"Art is a really powerful communication tool that members of the public understand more than some of the technical type issues," he said.

"It really provides a medium for getting people engaged in, what I consider to be, quite important discussions around the environment."

  • Common Ground will take place from February 25 till March 4. All events will be free to attend. Visit commongroundfestival.org.nz for more information.

 - Stuff

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