An important tool in the Taranaki Regional Council's education work is the Stream Health Monitoring and Assessment Kit, or SHMAK.
The kit, which was developed by NIWA and adapted for local use by the Taranaki Regional Council, enables students and lay people to collect consistent, scientifically valid information from streams and rivers, using the information to make assessments of the health of the waterways.
It is made up of manuals, identification guides and monitoring equipment including a water clarity measuring tube, conductivity meter and thermometer.
A scoring system gives an immediate gauge of how healthy a stream is, and with repeat visits to the same site, information can be gained about how it might be changing over time.
The modifications for its use in Taranaki include an introductory PowerPoint presentation, more accurate pH and conductivity readings and macroinvertebrate measuring techniques better suited to Taranaki.
A SHMAK study unit has been written for teachers and can be downloaded from this website.
The state and variety of macroinvertebrate life gives an indication of overall stream health and water quality.
The Council has published a guide to identifying invertebrates and using them to assess waterway quality - you can download it from this page.
A photographic guide to freshwater invertebrates of Taranaki rivers & streams
Invertebrates are a vital part of the freshwater ecosystem and can tell us a great deal about the state of a waterway's health. This Guide introduces all of the major invertebrate groups using microscope images, with a brief description of the habitat preferences of each group. It also explains how waterway health can be assessed by ranking the invertebrates found within it.A photographic guide to freshwater invertebrates of Taranaki's rivers and streams (single document only)