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Plastic to Fantastic - bringing back our mussels

New Zealand is famous for its mussels. Although edible varieties of this shellfish are found all around the coastlines of Aotearoa, some are disappearing fast. Green-lipped mussels are a taonga species and only found in Aotearoa. These mussels are important kai moana and are also harvested for export.

Mussel line

This year we visited Ōhiwa Harbour where Dr Kura Paul-Burke explained how mussels are rapidly disappearing. Kura uses Mātauranga Māori (traditional Māori knowledge) with science to create mussel lines out of tī kōuka (cabbage tree) leaves instead of plastic-based lines. These are helping restore the mussel beds in the harbour. 

Ponder this

Consider the following questions. You could talk about your ideas with your favourite people at home or online.

  1. Why is plastic a problem in our oceans?
  2. How are humans affected by plastic in our oceans?
  3. Why is Kura using a natural resource to create mussel lines rather than using plastic-based materials?
  4. Kura is trialing different designs for mussel lines. Why do you think she is doing this?


Create using natural resources

What natural resources are in your own backyard? Can you create anything using the resources you find? What about a piece of art … like a sculpture?  

Repurpose your plastic

A lot of plastic gets thrown out and ends up in our natural environment. Look around your home – is there a plastic item that might normally get thrown away? Could you repurpose it into something useful? Make a creation out of a disposable plastic item from your house into something that has a new use (you might need to ask an adult first).

Ask a parent to post a picture of your creation/s on Instagram using the hashtags #learnztrips, #myfantasticcreation, or email a photo to LEARNZtrips. Tell us about your creations if you want to. 

We’ll share the most creative ideas on our Instagram space @learnztrips.

Want to know more?

Explore Ōhiwa Harbour and discover why once plentiful mussels are disappearing from there. Meet scientists who are working with local iwi to restore this valuable habitat.