Restoring the kūtai beds of Te Moananui-ā-Toi
Ngāti Manuhiri and the Revive Our Gulf project celebrated Aotearoa New Zealand’s first ever Matariki public holiday by launching Te Au o Morunga, a project that aims to restore the mauri (life essence) of Te Moananui-ā-Toi / Hauraki Gulf through re-establishing kūtai (mussel) beds in the iwi rohe moana.
In a ceremonial deployment involving karanga, karakia and waiata, 400kg of kūtai were cast into the waters at a new restoration site by Ngāti Manuhiri whānau and Revive Our Gulf (ROG) project participants. Over the next few weeks the ROG and Ngāti Manuhiri Settlement Trust (NMST) will lay down a further 150 tonnes of kūtai across two adjacent sites south of Te Kawau Tūmaro-o-Toi (Kawau Island) – the largest deployment of kūtai yet in the Hauraki Gulf.
These new beds become part of an extended network of restoration sites across the area and will support the University of Auckland’s research into some of the thorniest challenges as we look to achieve mussel reef regeneration ‘at scale’.
“Working with our treaty partners is a priority for us. “We’ve worked alongside Ngāti Manuhiri Settlement Trust on the kūtai restoration kaupapa since 2016, this takoha to Tangaroa symbolises our commitment to improving the taiao.”
Ngāti Manuhiri were instrumental in helping to establish Aotearoa New Zealand’s first ever Marine Reserve at Te Hāwera-ā-Maki (Goat Island) in 1975. Current projects include waterways plantings to reduce sedimentation and a Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge project, Kohunga Kūtai, that aims to find natural products that can replace plastics used in aquaculture.
“This is the perfect way to observe Matariki”, says Nicola MacDonald, “out on the moana with whānau, celebrating the kaupapa, and looking forward to a future where we can revitalise that former abundance.”