Rahui at Deep Water Cove’s Maunganui Bay – Look But Don’t Touch

Robert WilloughbyTe Rawhiti Community has announced a Rahui (Temporary Closure) in Maunganui Bay.

Te Rawhiti hapu, Ngati Kuta and Patukeha, have imposed a 24-month fishing ban in Deep Water Cove’s Maunganui Bay from March this year, under cultural entitlement. The special ceremony was carried out on March 13th. The islands at the mouth of the bay are included in the rahui.

The purpose of the ban (rahui) is to enable seriously depleted fish stocks to regenerate. The hapu have a responsibility to uphold the healthy state of their traditional lands and fishery. Maunganui Bay (also known as Deep Water Cove but this is only one bay in it) was a special fishing area for Maori. Since the early 1960s, the bay has suffered from over fishing as research in this bay has shown.

Both Ngati Kuta and Patukeha want to rebuild the fishery and bring it back into a healthy state as it used to be. Traditional fishing practices allowed fishing for certain species at certain times and in certain places. This kept robust fish stocks available so that enough stock was left to regenerate the species and catchment areas.

The hapu purchased the Canterbury wreck to fulfill their commitment to help restore the fishery by providing an artificial reef and nurturing the growth of juveniles, including some special fish species not found in other parts of New Zealand.

Unfortunately some of the public had a different view and saw the wreck as an ideal spot to catch more fish and to fish in the bay. It is the action of a few which has prompted the placing of this rahui.

Traditionally, our spiritual beliefs were enough to stop the breaking of rahui, and these were supported by community eyes and ears. While we believe in the spiritual values of rahui, we know that it depends on the whole fishing community, diver interests and public support to make it happen. It is a Te Rawhiti hapu-led initiative which relies on the self discipline of all individuals to do the right thing.

This community initiative is even more significant given that the government is withdrawing its support for mataitai. We are, however, applying for a Section 186 which imposes legal ban on fishing in Maunganui bay. We are serious about protecting this Bay.

By Robert Willoughby

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