Freshwater taonga species struggling

Ten of 18 identified freshwater taonga species are threatened with extinction or at risk of becoming threatened, Stats NZ said today.

An updated environment indicator published today also shows the population trends of freshwater taonga species, with nine decreasing, eight not predicted to change, and one improving.

The 18 freshwater taonga species are a subset of all freshwater taonga species.

“We know that taonga species hold huge significance for Māori identity and provide vital insights for kaitiaki on the mauri (life essence) and biodiversity of an ecosystem,” environmental reporting manager Jason Mackiewicz said.

“We challenged ourselves to look at our existing data and asked how we could better present this for Māori priorities.”

Mr Mackiewicz said that identifying taonga species was not easy as they can vary between hapū and iwi depending on whakapapa and mātauranga. There are also variations in species’ names based on location, iwi dialect, and life cycles.

“We drew on a report commissioned by Te Wai Māori Trust and carried out by NIWA, Understanding Taonga Freshwater Fish Populations in Aotearoa-New Zealand 2017, and consulted with the Trust and the Department of Conservation on the list of 18 species,” Mr Mackiewicz said.

“We wanted to highlight data that is already available, but this list is just the start. We look forward to expanding this work further by working with and better understanding the needs of Māori communities.”

This is the first time that Stats NZ is publishing an environment indicator outside of the six-monthly reporting cycle.

“This is part of an intentional move to ensure that we make such critical environmental data available in a timely way. These indicators will continue to form the basis of our wider environmental reporting programme,” Mr Mackiewicz said.

It is also the first time that a subset of freshwater fish and invertebrates taonga species has been identified and linked to their extinction threat status in Stats NZ’s reporting.

The Extinction threat to indigenous freshwater species indicator covers key findings on the state and trends of the selected species. It replaces and updates the former Conservation status of indigenous freshwater species indicator.

Stats NZ will next update the extinction threat status of the marine species indicator.

To view the new indicator page, see Extinction threat status to indigenous freshwater species or explore our wider range of environmental indicators.

/Stats NZ Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.