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Little fish set to make a huge splash

Date:  29 March 2010

Turangi is justifiably world famous for its trout, but now there is a new group of fish set to make their mark on the local tourism scene.

The Department of Conservation (DOC), along with Genesis Energy and the Tongariro National Trout Centre Society, has embarked on an ambitious new project to create New Zealand’s best freshwater aquarium at the Tongariro National Trout Centre. This state of the art facility will focus on the indigenous freshwater fish to be found both locally and from around the country.

"We are aiming to produce something with a real "wow" factor", says Herwi Scheltus, project manager for DOC. "This aquarium will be unlike anything else in the country, and will be something Turangi can be enormously proud of."

Work got underway last month following a blessing of the site by local kaumatua, after which contractors J R Wade Construction have made steady progress in establishing the footprint for the building.

"Setting up an aquarium like this is a complex undertaking, and our native fish are such quirky creatures we have had some great design challenges to work through", says Herwi, "but Genesis, the Trout Centre Society and our other partners have been a huge asset in pulling the project together". It will house a range of native species, including kokopu, koaro, mudfish and inanga, and it is proposed to show a range of pest fish which threaten our freshwater ecosystems as well.

Bonnie Lawrence, Environmental Manager for Genesis Energy, said she was pleased with progress to date, saying "water is such a critical part of Genesis Energy’s operations that it’s great to be a involved in a project to showcase our freshwater species. The partnership will add an exciting national asset to our local community".

Society chairman Rob Lester also added his support to the concept, saying "this project typifies what can be achieved if you aim high. With partners who are prepared to see the big picture, we are well placed to deliver an asset to the local community which will add tremendous value to the local economy."

The next step is to prepare a quarantine area to help the fishy new arrivals to settle in before their big public debut, which is planned for August.