There are many different ways that everyday people can monitor their waterways. The Whitebait Connection (WBC) uses a mixture of biological (living) and non-biological (non-living) indicators to assess and monitor the health of streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands.
Alternatively, you could try and secure funding for your very own SHMAK kit from NIWA. This will be a great first step for long-term monitoring of your local awa. There is a range of useful resources and manuals for SHMAK monitoring, identification guides and videos to support you with this journey on the NIWA website. The NZ Water Citizens website also provides you with a platform to store your data and enables you to check out other monitoring projects around the country - however, it also gives you the option of keeping your data private.
If it's freshwater fish specifically that you want to monitor you could also get data collection templates and upload your information onto the NZ Freshwater Fish Database.
Not a lot is known about īnanga spawning areas in many parts of NZ, so it would be very good to let your local regional council or Department of Conservation office know if you find any of these important areas. Īnanga usually make up around 90% of the whitebait catch and the destruction of their spawning areas is cited as being largely to blame for their decline.