An inspiring initiative led by Mäori and supported by Forest & Bird could create a way forward to protect marine life.
This article by Dean Baigent-Mercer features in Forest & Bird magazine this month drawing much needed attention to the plight of marine protection across New Zealand. Mimiwhangata has been subject of anecdotal and scientific studies for years now, and the local hapu have watched the richness of their jewel decline. A hapu-led initiative could be an ground-breaking means of getting real protection for Mimiwhangata: a rahui tapu.
"A rahui outlines a boundary [as at Deep Water Cove/Maunganui Bay]. The tapu is the restrictions that are to be observed within that boundary. At Mimiwhangata the restrictions would be a no-take area for everyone and weaves together traditional Maori protective measures with complementary additions to the marine reserves law."
Those involved in marine protection in the Bay of Islands watch this development with interest as there is real potential for this approach to work here. You can find the full article in PDF form here (opens in new window).
Over the next few days we will publish excerpts of the article online. The first excerpt tell us the story of how it used to be:
Mimiwhangata’s Kaumätua Puke Haika, 73, remembers the old ways. “I’ve been brought up in a community of conserving resources. My grandparents and father organised their seafood gathering beginning at Whitikau, right down to Rimariki [roughly 23 kilometres of coastline]. It would probably take them the best part of 20 years to get there and the diving places you’d go back to once every 10 years. They would never go back until they reached the south end of their gathering place. That’s how they used to do it when I was a young fella.”
“Today, when people find a place with lots of ﬁsh they go back there again tomorrow,” Uncle Puke says.
“My Dad always said, ‘Every big snapper you catch is a million little ones that won’t be born.’ I suppose he was right.”