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  • This Connected article, written and illustrated by Adele Jackson, looks at the discovery that fish and eels are using Wellington’s stormwater system as access between streams and the sea.

    Rights: Crown 2013

    Connected article: The fish highway

    An article in the 2013 Level 3 Connected journal, ‘Food for Thought’ published by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand.

    Illustration by Adele Jackson.

    Importance of observation

    In this article the work of fish scientist Frances Forsyth is covered, including:

    • how she first found that fish and eels are using the underground pipe system
    • how to count fish without harming them
    • recording observations.

    Two types of native fish were identified – two from the Galaxias species – the banded kōkopu and the kōaro and one species of tuna (eel) – longfin eels.

    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato

    The life cycle of eels

    Researcher Erina Watene-Rawiri describes the life cycle of eels.

    Nature of science, key concepts and science capabilities

    Key nature of science ideas profiled in this article are:

    • science knowledge is based on direct, or indirect, observations of the natural physical world
    • scientists gather data, using their senses to make observations
    • making careful observations often involves measuring something
    • observations are influenced by what you already know.

    The key science idea focuses on life history, including the stages of growth and reproduction and how some animals live in a variety of different environments.

    The article has a number of graphs and diagrams that support the science capability ‘interpret representations’.

    Check your school library for the article from the 2013 level 3 Connected journal ‘ Food for Thought’, download it as a Google slide presentation from Tāhūrangi or order it from the Ministry of Education.

    Rights: Crown 2013

    2013 Connected Level 3: Food for Thought

    The cover of the 2013 Level 3 Connected journal, ‘Food for Thought’ published by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand. This issue includes the articles: ‘Why is the Moon upside down?’, ‘A New Zealand Crocodile’, ‘Fast rust’, ‘You can count on it’ and ‘The fish highway’.

    Photo of student by Adrian Heke. Perigee moon – supermoon 2013 photo © Dave Young.

    Teacher support material

    The teacher support material (TSM) can be downloaded from Tāhūrangi as a PDF file.

    There are five learning activities that support the science aspects of the New Zealand Curriculum:

    • The importance of measurement – students can practise measuring, demonstrating that scientists make measurements all the time.
    • Mapping the highway – students map the use of the fish highway by the native fish and longfin eels.
    • More about Galaxias – students research the five different species and develop an identification key.
    • Read and take action – use this and other texts to look at the effects of environmental change.
    • Become a citizen scientist – use the Hub’s citizen science resources to further explore this concept and find out about citizen science in action.

    Literacy strategies also support students to get the most out of the text and include important skills useful when approaching scientific vocabulary.

    Related content

    Check out our entire range of Connected articles here. We’ve curated them by topic and concepts.

    Our newsletter Growing observational skills focuses on the essential part observation plays in science and mātauranga Māori. It also introduces the range of content, including activities to help students hone their observation skills.

    This article from The Conversation, looks at could we be seeing the end of some of the great animal migrations? Fishing, fences and development are fast-tracking extinctions.

    Fish resources

    Find out more about Aotearoa New Zealand’s native fish in New Zealand’s freshwater fish – introduction, this curates our wide range of fish resources (articles, activities, interactives and more), a number of these resources are in te reo Māori.

    Tuna (eels)

    The New Zealand longfin eel (Anguilla dieffenbachii) is New Zealand’s only endemic freshwater eel.

    Other articles about tuna (eels)

    Use this activity to explore freshwater issues and tuna heke (eel migration) from the perspective of a migrating eel.

    Citizen science

    Explore a range of citizen science projects that you could do with your students here. Check out this introuctory article and these tips for planning your science programme and the Getting started with citizen science and Online citizen science webinars. Find out about being a citizen scientist.

    Useful links

    See these Building Science Concepts books:

    NIWA's freshwater ecologists have an exciting research project that they hope will finally solve one of the great mysteries of the natural world: where New Zealand’s longfin eels go to breed. Discover more in this Radio NZ article and podcast.

    Find out more about freshwater fish in New Zealand on the Department of Conservation website.

    The mystical film Longfin spotlights the life of the endemic New Zealand freshwater eel and takes you on an epic journey through the life of this intriguing animal.

    The Connected journals can be ordered from the Down the Back of the Chair website. Access to these resources is restricted to Ministry-approved education providers. To find out if you are eligible for a login or if you have forgotten your login details, contact their customer services team on 0800 660 662 or email


    The Connected series is published annually by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand

      Published 14 October 2021 Referencing Hub articles
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