National | Moana

Ngāti Manuhiri excited by efforts to restore health of moana

Photo of mussels. Source/Shaun Lee. used with permission.

For the first day of Seaweek 2020, Minister of Conservation Eugene Sage visited Mahurangi Harbour to witness for herself the fruits of the shellfish restoration programme.

The minister was invited by University of Auckland staff working at Goat Island Marine Reserve and says the restoration efforts have much more of an effect on people than they realise.

"If we can restore the mussel beds over extensive areas we can restore the health of Tikapa Moana," Minister Sage says.

Mussel reefs once covered over 1,200 square kilometres of the Hauraki Gulf seafloor. However, industrial harvesting from 1910 to the 1960s removed the majority of the area for mussel reefs.

"That's what we've lost in the Hauraki Gulf, there were huge areas of wild mussel beds in the Gulf and they were fished out last century and what we are trying to do is make some progress into putting those beds back in the Hauraki Gulf," marine scientist Dr Andrew Jeffs says.

Following the minister's visit to Mahurangi Bay, she was welcomed onto Goat Island by Ngāti Manuhiri representatives and department staff managing marine reserve compliance.

"We want to have the environment and our tāonga here for all the future generations so this project is immense for us," Mook Hohneck, of Ngāti Manuhiri, says.

"We use our own resources and our own people to work in these partnerships."

The tour concluded with a visit to Leigh Laboratory and Discovery Centre to meet university staff and learn more about the research taking place at the centre.

Ngāti Manuhiri want to share this knowledge with the next generation.

"What we want for our rangatahi is to embed them with that knowledge, with that traditional kōrero, with that traditional knowledge that has been handed down and then they become the kaitiaki of the mauri for Te Moananui ā Toi," Hohneck says.