Overview of SHMAK

The Stream Health Monitoring and Assessment Kit (SHMAK) has been developed by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) in partnership with Federated Farmers of New Zealand.

Stream health is the condition (or state) of the whole stream ecosystem, including water quality, physical features of the stream and its banks, and the plants and animals living there. It also includes aspects that affect human health, safety and enjoyment.

Monitoring means making a standard set of measurements and observations at regular intervals and keeping records of the results so that they can be compared over time.

Assessment is interpreting the monitoring results to judge how healthy the stream is. Assessments can be used to make decisions about use of a stream, e.g. whether it is safe to swim or fish there, or whether a change in management is needed to improve stream condition.

SHMAK provides a way to assess whether land-use practices are affecting waters. It also allows stream health to be tracked over time, so you can recognise if stream health is getting better, worse or staying the same. The function of this kit is not to replace more formal methods of stream health monitoring. It is an additional tool to empower communities to play their own role.

What’s in the kit?

  • SHMAK manual (printed and downloadable from the website)
  • Equipment needed to take measurements.

What’s in the manual?

  • Getting started: defining your goals, choosing sites, designing a monitoring programme choosing indicators to measure and ensuring everyone stays safe
  • Explanation of each indicator: what it is, why it is important
  • How to measure each indicator in a scientifically robust way
  • Managing and understanding your data
  • A glossary (at the end of the manual) that gives the meaning of technical terms.