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A five-year passion project at Wanaka’s secret urban wetland, Bullock Creek, recently reached another milestone, when interpretive panels were installed beside the boardwalks.

Friends of Bullock Creek member Helen Howarth, a former scientist and English language teacher, inherited the Bullock Creek research project when she joined the committee 18 months ago.

She and Wanaka graphic designer Eddie Spearing combined forces to create four panels telling some of the stories she has collected.

“I was nabbed for the job within about a day [of joining the committee]. ‘We’ve got a job for you,’ they said. But it has been pretty cool finding out information and lots of stories,” she said.

Mr Spearing said it was satisfying to complete the project after months of discussing what to show and tell.

Mrs Howarth had uncovered enough material to write a book, he said.

Mrs Howarth agreed she was now hooked on the creek’s history and would continue collecting information, though she did not want to rush the next project.

“If anyone has a story about Bullock Creek I would love to hear it. It is a future project of mine, but quite where I am going to go with it, I don’t know.”

The creative duo discovered many different attitudes towards the creek over the years, including how it was used by early settlers and how it is regarded now.

“It’s been used as a drain, there was a piggery and a slaughterhouse, people threw their cats and dogs in it, typhoid is part of the story, and there are still remnants of that attitude. We want to protect this rare, spring-fed creek,” Mrs Howarth said.

Mr Spearing said he learned a lot more about the effects of development and car washing on the stormwater that ends up in the creek and, eventually, Roys Bay.

Cool water . . . Eddie Spearing scoops up water from Wanaka’s Bullock Creek wetland. PHOTO: MARJORIE COOK

Friends of Bullock Creek chairman Roger Gardiner said Mr Spearing and Mrs Howarth had done a “marvellous job” creating “outstanding signs”.

The Bullock Creek wetland is on a former hatchery site owned by the Otago Fish and Game Council and is fed from the Cardrona aquifer.

Fisheries ranger Paul van Klink and a Department of Corrections labour force were among many who had worked hard to restore the wetland, Mr Gardiner said.

“In October, we are planning a five-year celebration. We are hoping some of the Corrections people will come to that. They do come back already and bring their families,” he said.

The three main issues for Friends of Bullock Creek now were maintaining water quality, negotiating long-term ownership in perpetuity, and attracting more volunteers to help maintain the completed work and work on future stages of restoration, Mr Gardiner said.

“We need people.”