My Garden ~ a Kiwi's take on life

Life is a lot like a garden

Hope is on the Horizon for Kākahi and other Freshwater Dwellers



Pukeko and ducks have been feasting in the shallows of the streambed, leaving dozens of empty Kākahi shells, tops bitten off, scattered on the coarse silty sediment. I counted. And I know this has not always been so. I also tried to count the outer rings on one of the larger mussel shells to get a possible indication of age. I am no expert, but I think nine or more rings means a possible age of nine or more years.  The stream is a favourite and tranquil place to stroll. It has become second-nature to look out for eels and other freshwater life. Freshwater habitats in New Zealand have been under threat for a range of reasons. The outlook in my rural backyard is promising.


Empty freshwater mussel shells in the water on the stream-bed. Left there by the Pukeko.

Imagine if you will, Kākahi, a teeny-weeny freshwater mussel larva, latching onto Kōaro, a host native fish, for the migratory swim of its life. The journey may take a few weeks. Destination. Upstream to clear, shallow freshwater that flows unimpeded, shaded by overhanging Totara trees. The young hitchhiker will hop off the bus to make itself comfortable in its new digs. For this is where it will settle to live an independent life and to grow for decades if the watery conditions stay favourable. I may not see it for some time until it is bigger. Nine years is a long time to wait. 


Kākahi Freshly opened mussel grown to about 90mm. Possibly nine years of age.

It has been hard work for more than ten years to clear dumped, inorganic materials, fallen trees and pest plants. I am delighted to think that the increase in the mussel shell numbers might, just might, be in a small way, a result of us having committed to cleaning up the stream when we first came here.  I am proud of the way native ferns are regenerating  along the stream bank. The water now flows more freely.  We  put water troughs in each paddock for animals to drink from. Electric fencing is our way of keeping animals off the streambank. We have not built a permanent fence because of bad experiences with damaged fences during storm-related flooding.


Cleared area. Upstream water spills over a rocky ledge.

I hope the Kākahi and their Kōaro will have an extended stay in the shallow water and the coarse silty sediment under the ferns and the streambank overhangs. I am hopeful we will be able to think beyond a nine-year lifespan No more declining species. The freshwater creatures have support from afar. Change is happening. There is political support for campaigns to clean up New Zealand’s waterways.  Stream protection means

“if you have water supplied by a stream, you have an obligation to safeguard the quality of the water leaving your property – for downstream users and for other stream life.”

Hope for our rivers, lakes and streams is on the horizon.

Author: Jenny

My garden is where I lose myself, or as Himself likes to tell others, I lose either my coffee mug or wine glass. Well at least I put them on a gatepost so they are easily found. As I see it, we are here on this place to respect and to preserve nature, not to develop the land. I love how the totara trees stand in silent witness to our human activity. They keep me honest. I love to wander along the stream bank. I like being able to grow fruit and vegetables. I enjoy green open space. My son challenged me to write a blog using my garden diaries to start. Writing a blog is quite different to my diary scribblings. It is for a different audience. In every post, I have to make a conscious effort to get free of an academic style of writing. I write about things I know and do in my everyday life. I am not a photographer but the images I use are taken by me. I believe this adds veracity to my voice in each post. Learning to setup and to manage a blog has been a major effort and remains a work in progress. Who knows where this will lead. Himself and I thought we had retired, about to define this older phase of our life together. But family commitments continue. As it happens, I share this place with Himself, son and grandsons and living creatures who live charmed existences. I watch on as they serve as actors weaving their ways across the stage of daily life. Shakespeare wrote in As You Like It: All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances; Always, there's something to write about life lived as I know it.

3 thoughts on “Hope is on the Horizon for Kākahi and other Freshwater Dwellers

  1. Wonderful! Love hearing stories of ecosystems in other parts of the world. Thank you for what you are doing to protect the environment.

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