Suspended kūtai on harakeke ropes aims to bring new recruits

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei work on mussel bed restoration
Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei mussel restoration work in the past included combining Mussock™ and harakeke (flax) to recruit and grow mussels. Photo credit: Shaun Lee

In a bid to restore the kūtai / mussel beds of  Ōkahu bay, several “kūtai socks” were hung off the wharf at Ōkahu Bay today.  The day’s work is part of a larger project by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei to restore the mauri / life essence of the bay through ecological restoration underpinned by matauranga Māori. 

In 2014 approximately 40,000 kūtai were deposited into the bay in the hope of re-seeding kūtai beds – once extensive in the inner Waitematā.   However, bad sedimentation in the bay is thought to have choked the new beds.   Today’s work, which involved suspending the kūtai in the water column above the sediment, will give the kūtai a fighting chance of survival as “vertical mussel beds”.   It’s also hoped that the kūtai will attract other larvae or “spat” to settle and build up on the ropes. 

Harakeke ropes were woven over three days by local weavers and combined with a Mussock™sock to hold the kūtai in place.   Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei project lead, Richelle Kahui McConnell says the inspiration for the project sprung from hearing traditional Māori legends about waka towing ropes full of kūtai behind them which would be used to seed new kūtai beds in new lands.