September 5, 2021

If I were Ōpāwaho Heathcote River… 

Lockdown lead one of our OHRN members to ask three children (Miss aged 7, Master aged 7, and Miss aged 10) to answer twenty questions as if they were the Ōpāwaho Heathcote River. Their answers are fascinating…

Hello Ōpāwaho, how are you today?



I’m great

What do you notice today Ōpāwaho?

It’s quieter – hardly any cars and i can see a queue for covid 19 [vaccinations at PMH]

Leaves Falling on me.

I’ve seen more people, walking around with their dogs, and having fun. Usually I only see like one or two a day.

Do you prefer it Ōpāwaho?

Yes, it’s so noisy usually.

I’d like it a smidge louder.

(busier)….it is a bit noisy, usually I listen to birds chirping but now I’m listening to dogs barking, people laughing. Which is good, but I also liked the peace of the world.

Have you seen more people around than usual?

Yes, people biking, cycling and staying apart from each other.


Yeah definitely

Ōpāwaho, are you feeling clean?

No, because people are littering.

NO, because there’s rubbish in me and I’m all manky.

Well I’ve got a few pieces of rubbish in me here and then, for example there’s a rugby ball in me near Pioneer.

Why are you brown Ōpāwaho and do you like that?

Dirt keeps getting into my water from the river bank. I don’t like it.

No, I want to be the clearest river in the world, with crayfish.

Well my water is brown because I’ve had a lot of rubbish in me, but it could also be to do with the soil in me. I don’t want to be brown, I want to be as clear as crystals.

What should humans do about that?

I don’t know.

Put some special pipes in me and all the manky stuff will get pushed out to sea.

I think people should start cleaning me, and taking more notice of me.

What’s your favourite thing about yourself?

I’m important to people.

Going through Dens

I like that I’ve got lots of nature in me, like fishes and eels, and I’m a home to them which is really nice. I know all the fish, all their names and where they live.

Do you have any creatures living in you?

Yes, lots of fish and shrimp and sand.

I”ve got plants growing in me. Like moss.

Yes, I have fish and eels and some other animals, and sometimes bugs.

If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

That I’m clean.

The clearness. And the mankiness going away.

That if someone put rubbish in me, they’d get a $500 warning. I want to be clearer.

Who do you think should clean you?

All my friends and people who love me.

The government.

I think the locals and anyone who puts their hand up to. I’d only like the people who care about me to clean me. If someone doesn’t really care about me, they’re just doing it because their mum told me, and i’d feel a bit down about that.

Ōpāwaho, if you could sing a song, what would it be about?

Save the water, save the environment.

No rubbish.

My song would be about how lovely the birds are in the morning. And how I can see the sunset every night and every morning, it’s really beautiful.

Ōpāwaho, what’s your dream?

For people to care about me.

My dream is feeling the wind and I fly up, like when water turns into air.

My dream is to become the clearest river in the whole world and to be the most loved river.

Are you scared of anything?

No, except jellyfish and things that sting.

Yeah, me being a rubbish river.

Not really, I’m only scared of things that are new to me, like I just got a rugby ball chucked in me, and that was scary because I didn’t know what it was or what it would do.

Do you like dogs visiting you?

Yes, but it would be good if people picked up their poo.

Yes. I like them splashing in me, and feeling their warm bodies.

Yeah it’s quite fun because they’re having fun, barking and I like someone else to have fun in me!

Ōpāwaho, do you have a memory of the past?

Yes, when people cared about me and I was so clean. They spoke a different language. It was Māori. I wish people would care about me.

Yeah, once I flooded over a bridge (a true story when it flooded over the bridge at Spreydon Domain). And I remember I was flooding through the cracks in the ground and I started flowing through Christchurch.

Once I was up in the clouds as drops of rain, and then the clouds dropped me and I fell and started digging myself a home, and now I’ve been living here for lots of years. Everyone would take water from me to drink me, it was nice that I was helping someone out.

Ōpāwaho, what do you hope for tomorrow?

More dogs walking along and I hope for people to be nice to me.

For someone to kayak in me.

In the future I hope I’m clean, and I hope that people will care about me more.

What makes you cry, Ōpāwaho?

When someone throws a stick or stone into me.

Seeing rubbish sinking into me.

What makes me cry is when I’m dirty, and I can’t clean myself. And I’m just dirty and lying there all dirty and it’s really sad.

If I gave someone $100,000 to spend on you, what would you want?

I’d want a few more plants around me and for people to get $50 if they helped me get clean.

To get all the mankiness out of me, and make me a bit deepers so people can swim in me.

I would want them to plant more plants around me, and more wildlife like fish and eels because I want more friends.

Ōpāwaho, what is your most beautiful part and why?

Ashgrove reserve, it’s peaceful.

Spreydon Domain, because I get looked at basically every day because people live on the other side of me.

My favourite part is Nga Puna Wai; lots of my friends are there; the eels and the ducks. That’s where they hang out. And it’s just beautiful and quiet and no cars revving past or doing burnouts so it’s really nice and peaceful there.