Summary of SHMAK system

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

It is being promoted for use in rural communities by the NZ Landcare Trust. The projects have been partly funded by the Ministry for the Environment's Sustainable Management Fund.

The kit comprises:

  • a manual with monitoring forms, full instructions and background information
  • coloured identification guides for bugs and slime
  • a set of monitoring equipment including: water clarity measuring tube, conductivity meter, pH papers, thermometer, sample containers, magnifier and more.

SHMAK allows you to measure stream health. You select 10-metre-long monitoring sites. At regular intervals (say, every 3 months) you record a set of measurements and observations on a standard form. This takes little more than 1 hour per site.

Each time you monitor you can apply a scoring system to the information you collected about the stream. The score totals can then be plotted on a graph to give you an immediate visual impression of how healthy your stream is and how it is changing over time.

Stream monitoring with SHMAK can help you to understand what makes a stream healthy. Monitoring can therefore contribute to:

  • improving streams for fish
  • tracking the effects of - for example - stock damage or a quarry upstream
  • assessing how a stream responds if such activities cease
  • checking changes following riparian planting
  • enhancing a stream that is in public view
  • marketing a "clean, green image"
  • providing background information that may be helpful in obtaining resource consents.