When applying the CHI in the field, members of the team will visit selected sites in a catchment and look over a reach of the waterway from one point. The field team will also walk along the river bank and view the river upstream and downstream from the selected site, visually assessing the health of the site. While they are doing this they will be filling in an assessment form and recording their observations according to the questions on the form.
If the preparatory work has been done well, the fieldwork should run smoothly. It will take approximately one hour to view the site and complete the assessment form.
Once at the site the coordinator needs to:
- Keep instructions clear and interpretation to a minimum so as not to influence perception or scoring.
- Assign each individual a number with which to label their assessment form at each site. It is important that they use the same number for the duration of the study.
- Hand out a new recording form to each team member at each site. Each person on the team will be recording their individual assessment of the indicators listed on the recording form. For each site a form will be completed by each team member (the average for each indicator is calculated later when analysis is carried out). Each team member will complete a new form at each site.
- The site details need to be added first (e.g. the name and number of the site, the team member’s number, the date etc).
- Once the forms are complete, check them before moving on. It is often hard to recall aspects of a site after leaving it. Clarify species names, for example, on site.
- Once checked, collect all forms from the site and store them together until data entry.
- Before moving on from the site, get the team together for a feedback session during which members can discuss issues that arose during the recording. The coordinator can indicate the range of scores awarded and discussion can foster agreement between team members. Striving for consistency in this way is part of the ongoing nature of the team training, so it is important to have a feedback session after each site visit.
Collecting fish data
As part of the data collection for mahinga kai, it is necessary to identify the fish species present at the site. Collection of these data can take place at any stage before, during or after the field assessment is carried out.
This can be achieved by electric fishing, netting or through a combination of methods. Your regional council may have already sampled the sites that you have chosen or data may be available from the New Zealand Freshwater Fish Database managed by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA). [How to access the NZ Freshwater Fish Database is described in Appendix 8.] Check with both your regional council and the Department of Conservation before you commit to any new fish data collection.