Making flooding room for rivers where possible and the many benefits that could come from contemporary river management approaches was a key focus of Ngāti Kahungunu’s Fish Hook Summit held in Napier last week.
‘Haumaru Te Taiao, Haumaru Tangata | Care for our Environment so our Environment Can Care for Us’ was the theme of 12th annual summit attended by some 240 iwi members. They discussed Cyclone Gabrielle recovery and improving the environment within the tribe’s boundary, which stretches from Wairoa to Wairarapa.
Ngāti Kahungunu chairman Bayden Barber said he was hopeful the tribe’s views would lead to progress across the entire rohe encouraging regional councils to widen river banks so rivers could flow, and in case of flooding, the overflow of water had somewhere to go.
He noted Tāngoio and Mōteo were the iwi’s worst affected marae from the cyclone. “And because their lands are now classed as category 3 the law states they can’t rebuild, or replace those whare for their people.” (As an aside, see this compelling short photo documentary by Paul Taylor on Tangoio Marae https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy9evMK2VnA )
Iwi Environment and Natural Resource specialists Ngaio Tiuka and Shade Smith brought in environmental experts and scientists from different organisations to help the Fish Hook Summit participants understand what happened on Feb 14th and also offer insight into how management might adapt and better work with our environment and values.
“Despite the tragic cyclone, there is an opportunity to learn and work towards improving our planning, saving costs through wider considerations and recognising the value of mātauranga Māori and more natural solutions,” said Shade Smith
Ngaio Tiuka added, “Our natural environment has been severely degraded, not just by natural disasters but poor management, polluted waterways, damaged mahinga kai, over abstraction of water and much more.
“I think a major takeaway is that there are some solutions and better approaches to the management of our waterways that align with tangata whenua and can reduce if not avoid the adverse effects of rivers naturally being rivers and flooding.”
Tiuka also said there are significant benefits from this approach such as restored and enhanced habitat and mahinga kai; restoring greater aquifer recharge from the river and improving the resilience of our waterways and communities in drier periods.”
For the past 13 years the Fish Hook Summit has been an opportunity for Ngāti Kahungunu to get together and share mātauranga and experiences from across the rohe, with kōrero from tribal authorities from Wairoa to Wairarapa providing updates on taiao projects, sharing experiences, ideas, aspirations and promoting plans and collaboration going forward. For more information see: https://www.kahungunu.iwi.nz/fish-hook-2023
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