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Published: 2014-11-10 00:00:00

By day, they work at Waikato Regional Council to help manage natural resources and protect the environment.

In their spare time they’ve also been “walking the talk” by working together on a project to protect and restore the environment for native species.

Council staff from different parts of the organization were at the weekend involved in the final stage of a project to restore native mudfish to a specially created wetland area beside the Mangakotukutuku Stream at Sandford Park in Melville, Hamilton.

“The stream contains the best range of rare and threatened native fish in Hamilton,” said Mangakotukutuku Stream Care Group chairman Grant Blackie, the council’s farming and forestry manager.

“Bringing the mudfish back is a key project in our group’s efforts to restore native aquatic species in Hamilton.”

The group is working to restore biodiversity at a range of sites in and around the stream, which runs from south of the city to join the Waikato River near Hamilton Gardens.

Putting the mudfish at the Sandford Park site has created the only known current population of the fish in this catchment, said Grant.

“The mudfish in the catchment had previously disappeared along with their wetlands habitat , due to factors like urban encroachment on the environment and conversion of land to farming.”

The group attracted Waikato River Authority funding for the mudfish project, constructing a new wetland and planting it in conjunction with the Hamilton City Council. Tonkin and Taylor staff designed and oversaw construction of the wetland and the Department of Conservation provided the necessary permits to bring the mudfish in from Lake Komakarau near Hamilton.

Grant said members of the group had put in many hours on the project. “These guys are passionate about protecting and enhancing the environment at work. They also walk the talk in their spare time. The number of hours involved is significant and releases like Saturday’s are the icing on the cake for them.”