Know your streams - York Stream

09/10/2018 10:19am
Students at Victory Primary School have created artworks to recognise the value of York Stream/Te Wairepo to the community.
Students at Victory Primary School have created artworks to recognise the value of York Stream/Te Wairepo to the community.

York Stream, also known as Te Wairepo, flows down from the quarry and landfill above Bishopdale, passing through residential Nelson South, before joining with Saltwater Creek at Halifax Street.

Te Wairepo means “water running through a wetland” and before it was drained and houses built, stands of flax covered the low lying areas through which Te Wairepo flowed. In addition to the resources of flax and raupo, which was used to thatch roofs and weave sails, the area would have provided food resources for local Māori. Tuna (long-finned and short-finned eels), redfinned bully, banded kokopu, and koura (freshwater crayfish) are all found in Te Wairepo today. 

After Europeans settled here, York Stream would have been one of the places from which flax was collected for flax milling at Jenkins Creek.

Historically, the area has been prone to flooding and this has led to heavy modification of the stream. A retention dam was built in the 1960s a few hundred metres above Waimea Road, opposite the York Valley Landfill entrance, to try and reduce the impact of flash flooding on houses further down the catchment.
The mid-reaches are heavily modified with an open culvert constructed of concrete and stone, which runs through private property within the Victory Community. This has been the site of rubbish dumping in recent years with tyres, bikes, mattresses and other household waste items ending up in the stream.  The lower reaches of the stream are piped under St Vincent Street until the stream flows into Saltwater Creek at Halifax Street.  

In 2013, the students at Victory Primary School made a plea to Council to clean up the stream. Council subsequently initiated the Te Wairepo/York Stream focus project, under its Project Maitai/Mahitahi programme, to remove rubbish, carry out riparian planting, raise awareness of the stream and improve fish passage. You can find out more about this project here.

Recently, work has been done to improve fish migration in the stream by adding flexible baffles to the base of the culvert. These create places for fish to rest and help them move along the piped stream. You can follow the path the fish take today as it flows underground by following the blue eels painted on the footpath of St Vincent Street.