A taonga species of ika lives in the awa, Te Waihou. It is the kkopu or dwarf galaxias, Galaxias divergens. The kkopu are in trouble, their numbers are declining nationally.
Kkopu / dwarf galaxias are non-migratory galaxiids, similar to whitebait, however, they live their entire life in the awa where they hatched. Whitebait spend part of their life living at sea.
The Te Waihou kkopu population is the most northern population in New Zealand. Some people think that the population became landlocked following the eruption of Mount Tarawera in 1886, but genetic research suggests the population could have been cut off one or two millennia ago! It is thought that the Tarawera eruption knocked back kkopu populations throughout the Bay of Plenty.
Genetically, the Te Waihou kkopu are quite different from other North Island populations, so much so that they might soon be recognised as their own separate species! This makes the Te Waihou population very special taonga they are unique and distinctive, and if we lose them, we will not be able to get them back!
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