Rāhui to Help Rejuvenate Mussels in Ōhiwa

Rāhui to Help Rejuvenate Mussels in Ōhiwa

Ngāti Awa kaitiaki have placed a rāhui on the taking of green lipped mussels from an area of Ōhiwa Harbour near the Port Ōhope boat ramp in a bid to help regenerate a newly restored mussel bed.

Mac Kingi and Charlie Bluett performed a karakia at Te Tuarae o Kanawa near the Port Ōhope Boat Ramp this Monday to enact the rāhui. Signs have been installed to inform people about the ban on taking mussels from the area.

Mr Bluett, who is also Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Customary Fisheries Officer, says the rāhui is in place to help the juvenile mussels to reach maturity.

“You can see the lines out by the buoys just off from the very end of Harbour Road. The mussels have been rejuvenated from an old traditional bed. There is one at that point, one closer to the mouth of harbour and another slightly further around on the other side.”

However, Mr Bluett says, the rāhui is part of a much bigger picture.

The work is part of an award-winning research project led by Ngāti Awa uri, Professor Kura Paul-Burke from the University of Waikato. The project was launched in 2019 by the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge with a focus to bring together mātauranga Māori and marine science to investigate pragmatic shellfish restoration action as it applies to the unique social, cultural and ecological context of Ōhiwa Harbour.

It was co-developed with hapū and iwi of Ōhiwa Harbour, including Ngāti Awa, and supported by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council as well as the seven partners of the co-management group, Ōhiwa Harbour Implementation Forum.

Mrs Paul-Burke says: “If we can provide a little time for the new mussel population to grow to adults, we may be fortunate enough for our collective grandchildren to have a naturally regenerating food basket for their children into the future. It is our hope that the temporary closure will help us achieve that.”

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Chief Executive Reuben Araroa says: “the implementation of the cultural rāhui in Ohiwa Harbour represents our unwavering commitment as kaitiaki to safeguarding the ecological balance of our marine environments whilst preserving the intergenerational benefits of a healthy marine harbour for the whole community.

“We thank all members of our community for respecting the prohibition and look forward to sharing the success of the rāhui in the near future.”