Being kaitieki of our kapata kai

As the holiday season winds down, and visitors return to work, life has almost returned to normal for whanau living in Whakatiri or Lottin Point.  Following a surge in activity on their beach during the festive season, local kaitieki, Tina Waenga Poi took to Facebook to remind visitors about their impact on the environment and seafood stocks.

“Ko tātou katoa he kaitiaki o tō tātou nei whenua. We’re all, caregivers of our whenua for the time that we’re put here on Papatūānuku, on our earth,” she said.

Safeguarding the ngāhere, whenua and moana is a shared responsibility, she said.  There is a connection between human welfare and the welfare of our natural resources.

Waenga-Poi said some permits to dive for kaimoana issued by other hapu, for tangihanga, hura pohatu and other hui are being misused or misunderstood.  As kaitieki for Whakatiri, Waenga-Poi signs off permits for the Whakatiri foreshore only.  She said it’s important for whanau to respect the boundaries set by permits and encourages responsible practices to ensure sustainability for future generations.

Declining shellfish numbers at Whakatiri, particularly pāua, are huge concern for the iwi kainga and there needs to be careful consideration of harvest limits within their waters.  Visitors are diving off their rocks with tanks.  She said traditional practices and values have to be used to protect the kāpata kai and maintain the integrity of their resource.

“I encourage you all just to make sure that you look after the sea, you look after the land. You look after the bush, and you look after the whenua and in return it will nourish us as people.”

Acknowledging the challenges faced by their local community, Waenga-Poi highlighted the need for vigilance in protecting their environment.  Iwi kainga continue to monitor activities on their beach and she hopes in the further, visitors clean up and leave their beach pristine and clean.

By Oriwa Atkins