Mahinga kai monitoring

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and the Te Waihora Management Board are ramping up mahinga kai monitoring in Te Waihora/ Lake Ellesmere through the Whakaora Te Waihora programme. The monitoring aims to collect more information about mahinga kai, such as tuna and pātiki, to support Ngāi Tahu decision-making and management of the lake. Measuring and weighing tuna at Timberyard Point, Te Waihora.
Sophie Allen, coordinator for the monitoring work, explains that Ngāi Tahu has worked hard to ensure that improving mahinga kai is a key focus of Whakaora Te Waihora.

“The lake is also known as Te Kete Ika o Rākaihautū because it was such a large source of quality fish. Sadly the quality of the lake and mahinga kai has deteriorated due to factors such as removal of native forest, farming and large scale drainage,” she says.

mahinga kaiWhakaora Te Waihora is replanting native vegetation and re-creating wetlands to help mahinga kai to recover, which featured in the March edition of TPK. One particular area of focus for the monitoring is the Horomaka Kōhanga, which was a Ngāi Tahu initiative to close the eastern side of the lake to commercial fishing. The monitoring aims to see if the kōhanga is working well as a safe ‘nest’ for fish, leading to increased fish numbers. Ngāi Tahu is collaborating with NIWA (Taihoro Nukurangi), through the Whakaora Te Waihora programme to get this monitoring up and running.

Volunteers are being sought to assist Ngāi Tahu with this monitoring work and other kaupapa such as visiting streams in the Te Waihora area, in order to survey where waikōura and kākāhi (freshwater mussels) are found, due to concerns that these mahinga kai species will continue to decline unless work is done to protect their sites. The lake itself housed large kākāhi beds until about the early 1900s, and the pā settlement at Birdlings Flat was called Waikakahi in honour of the extensive food source. Monitoring results will be reported on annually and fed into a cultural health report card for Te Waihora that Ngāi Tahu plans to published every two years.


What does the monitoring involve?

Sophie is looking for locals who can ideally commit weekdays – about 10 days spread out over a year – or people who could come on a couple of weeknights to do spotlighting for tuna and kōura. A koha of petrol vouchers will be given in appreciation for your time. Volunteers will aid the Ngāi Tahu monitoring team with tasks such as setting nets, bringing in nets, measuring and weighing fish, and taking water quality measurements. No experience is required as training will be given where needed, but you need to be confident on and around water and handling fish.


Keen to volunteer?

Contact: Sophie Allen, Senior Environmental Advisor- Te Waihora, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu
(03) 974 0197 or email

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!