On Monday 28th November over 50, 000 juvenile paua were placed into the sea along the Kahungunu coastline. Reseeding paua has been a long held aspiration of Ngati Kahungunu whanau, hapu and iwi, who have been concerned about diminishing numbers, and increasing fishing pressure on this iconic taonga (treasure).
The pepe (baby) paua were 1 year old and were transported to Hastings overnight by industry members from a paua farm in Te Kaha. After delivery and blessing at Ruahapia Marae the paua were separated into 3 groups and delivered to waiting hapu members at Waimarama, Pourerere and Porangahau beaches. Each hapu had developed a reseeding plan and were involved throughout the whole process.
It was a fantastic day. A sense of pride and accomplishment was felt on the beach. The weather was good and reseeding took place without any major issues. Old and young were working together and in some places three generations were in the water at the same time – a fantastic whanau experience.
At the marae debrief many of those involved said it was a wonderful experience and statements by locals like Ngavi Pekapo “That after so many years of taking it feels great to finally put something back” were echoed across the participants. An awareness and commitment to protect and enhance the health of the moana became even stronger. Plans are underway to develop strategies to help to protect the reseeded paua.
Peter Herbert (Herb) a commercial paua diver and member of the PauaMac 2 Executive said “he was blown away by the whole experience in particular the cultural significance of the project and the wonderful interaction between Iwi members and industry that took place on the day”
The Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Fisheries Management Unit together with hapu is developing a tagging and monitoring regime to follow the survival rate, growth rate and distribution of the paua. There are opportunities for locals to be involved with the aim that community environmental awareness and education will continue to develop.
This was phase I of what will be an ongoing program. As well as paua restoration the project has helped to build relationships between all stakeholders paving the way for more projects in the future. Phase II is to begin soon in the Wairarapa with the first hui to identify appropriate brood stock sites and potential reseeding sites once the seeds are ready for out planting.
Dr Adele Whyte (Director of the Iwi Fisheries Management Unit, Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated) ph 06 8762 718.
Tony Craig (Chair Paua 2 Industry Association,) for further industry information. 021 375 730.