The age-old practice of rahui is one of the tools used by hapu to slow down the depletion of shellfish beds and fish stocks. Hapu impose rahui as a means of limiting access to an area so resources have time to regenerate.
Authority to place rahui comes from groups vested with mana tuku iho (ancestral rights) over land, foreshore, rivers, lakes, forests and fisheries.Rahui may sometimes be imposed when a place becomes tapu (sacred) because there has been a tragedy of some kind in the area.
The position of kaimoana as the most precious dietary resource of Ngati Porou means sustainability is the critical issue underlying customary management.
Ani Pahuru-Huriwai, secretary of the Wharekahika Maori Committee, says rahui allow the kapata kai (food cupboards) to recover and prepare for the summer months when everyone comes home.
“Te Whanau a Tuwhakairiora and Te Whanau a Te Aotaki are concerned about the long-term sustainability of our kapata kai. We rely on everyone helping to monitor and enforce the rahui, and ask that home people and visitors to our area also respect it.”
Ani says the committee has put firm annual dates on the calendar, with the rahui beginning on the Tuesday after Labour Weekend running through to the first weekend in December.
Te Whanau a Hunaara Fisheries committee member Hal Hovell says Matahi o te Tau Marae renewed the practice of rahui in 1983.
“It wasn’t well received at the beginning but after the marae held a series of hui that same year, the rahui was well received. Our commercial people have by and large supported us by pulling up their pots for that period of time.”
Hal says the interests of coastal hapu overlap with the health of the inland streams and tributaries that feed into the moana.
“Our coast starts at the top of the hill. All our catchments run out to the sea, so matters like sedimentation spread that affect the freshwater fisheries are of equal concern to us.”
Hal says the Hunaara committee is going through a second phase of funding applications with the Ministry of Primary Industries to fund scientific research into kaimoana numbers and habitat degradation.
“We are hoping to marry our traditional ways with scientific practices to help us with management regimes. At the moment, a lot of our knowledge is anecdotal so we need to collect data in a way they will accept.”
A rahui has been put in place by Potikirua ki Whangaarumia (Potaka Marae trustees), Whangaarumia to Te Koau (Wharekahika Maori Committee), Awatere river mouth east to Pohautakataka past Whangaokeno Island, (Te Whanau a Hunaara Fishery Committee, and Matahi o te Tau Marae Committee).
The dates for the rahui are from 12th October to 15th December 2016.
During this time there is to be no taking of kina, paua or koura — we ask that all cray pots are removed from the area. Customary permits will only be issued for tangihanga.