2022 saw the start of a partnership between Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki and the Revive Our Gulf (ROG) project, starting where all Te Tiriti-based partnerships should: on the marae. Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki kaumātua and rangatahi hosted our ROG manuhiri at Umupuia marae in June for a two-day wānanga that aimed to:
- Create space for whakawhanaungatanga and trust-building between Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki and ROG
- Build a shared understanding of the mussel restoration process, and the relationships Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki hold with mussels, Tīkapa Moana, and the wider taiao
- Explore the interests of, and potential roles for, Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki within the project
- Confirm a shortlist of locations within Tīkapa Moana that Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki consider appropriate for future mussel restoration activities to occur
Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki whānau spoke about their relationship with Te Marae o Tai and mahinga kai, and the ROG team spoke about the life cycles of kūtai and the previous restoration mahi they have been involved in within the Hauraki Gulf. Our rangatahi also shared their aspirations for this project and how they see themselves being involved going forward. The decline of kūtai within the Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki rohe was discussed as a group, as well as the impacts of that decline on people, culture, and the moana. An interesting learning out of that session was the whakapapa of kūtai and how these whakapapa links could be reflected in our restoration mahi.
On day two, attendees headed out on the moana to see and feel the places we had spoken about the night before, anchoring at a few different spots that Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki have a strong relationship with, and historically had been home to abundant kūtai beds. Naturally during the haerenga, more kōrero flowed about Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki history within Tīkapa Moana and ngā moutere, helping to define the pros and cons of undertaking restoration mahi at each site. On returning to the marae, it didn’t take long for everyone to agree on suitable locations for focusing the restoration mahi in the future – and as the list of sites was agreed, the skies opened with a downpour that signalled the mahi was complete and it was time to wrap up the wānanga with kai whakanoa
This wānanga was a great way to start this kaupapa, providing a large to-do list for the future. The current focus is more detailed assessments of the proposed sites to investigate where precisely the restoration project could or should be based, and how our kōrero tuku iho can shape how we restore kūtai beds. We will also be finding as many ways as possible to get our Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki rangatahi involved in this project in interesting and meaningful ways.