Wairarapa Moana holds great significance for Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa & Rangitāne o Wairarapa
Wairarapa Moana holds great significance for Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa and Rangitāne o Wairarapa. Wairarapa Moana, meaning “sea of glistening waters”, comprises Lake Wairarapa – the third largest lake in the North Island – and Lake Onoke (also known as Lake Ferry), which naturally opens and closes to the sea. Lakes Pounui and Nganoke are also lakes of significant natural and cultural value in southern Wairarapa, both located on private property.
Honouring a strong story-telling tradition, the Lakes380 iwi rohe study has focussed on producing an online collection of filmed interviews with members of the Wairarapa community who are dedicated to restoring the ecological health and mauri of their lakes. This repository of stories holds diverse personal memories, cultural knowledge and scientific information that enriches our understanding and appreciation of these taonga (treasures). These documentaries are shared with the intention of informing and supporting the many ecological restoration efforts underway to improve the health of Wairarapa Moana and, in turn, to uplift the cultural and social wellbeing within Wairarapa communities.
Wairarapa Moana holds great significance for Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa and Rangitāne o Wairarapa. Their tribal pūrākau (stories), mātauranga Māori (knowledge) and whakataukī (proverbs) signal the importance of these waterbodies for physical nourishment and spiritual sustenance over many generations. Marae, pā sites, and seasonal fishing settlements populated the lake margins, and tuna (eels) especially were a significant resource for the local population.
Extensive wetland drainage and flood protection works, initially for sheep farming and more recently the dairy industry, have significantly altered the hydrology of the lakes. Together with the diversion of the Ruamāhanga River and forest clearance throughout the catchment, these changes have contributed to dramatic impacts on lake water quality and quantity and aquatic flora and fauna. Sediment cores taken from the lakes by the Lakes380 team record these changes over time, as well as major natural hazard events such as the 1855 earthquake.
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