Flounder survey a team effort

By Lawrence Gullery

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A year-long project tracking the number of black flounder in a Hastings river concluded this month and the results are expected to be presented in the New Year.

Operation Patiki is the initiative of Tom McGuire from Kohupatiki Marae, near Clive, who wanted a survey to better understand the existing population of patiki, or black flounder, in the Clive River, which is still referred to by its traditional name, Ngaruroro Tawhito.

The survey had brought together the Matauranga Maori traditional knowledge of fishing by the Moon with Western science methodology of observation and data collection, he said.

"We are very pleased with the science and outcome of the surveys and will write up our data shortly. Then next year we will do a comparison on the Tukituki or Tutaekuri rivers, which may have better habitats for patiki."

The Hawke's Bay Regional Council, Fish and Game Hawke's Bay, the Department of Conservation, Nga Whenua Rahui and others in the community had supported the project.

"We've also had scientists from Massey University involved who were impressed by the Maori science approach to catching live flounder for the survey and then releasing them."

Regional council scientists Adam Uytendaal and Oliver Wade were in the Operation Patiki team, which included Mr McGuire, Anu McGuire and Tawhana Chadwick.

Students from Flaxmere Primary School were involved in the last stages of the project monitoring this month and helped to retrieve the nets used to capture the patiki on November 9. The fish were photographed and their weight, length and width recorded by the students.

Mr McGuire said Hastings Intermediate School wanted to be involved in the survey team next year.

Throughout the 12-month monitoring period, no tagged fish were caught for a second time.

The whanau of Kohupatiki Marae will report on Operation Patiki in a public presentation and a written document at a later date.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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