Topic: Te Hakari Wetland, Ohau, Horowhenua

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Located at Kuku Beach, Ohau, Horowhenua - on the south-west coast of the North Island - adjacent to the Ohau Dune Lake System, this wetland is part of the Te Hakari Dune Wetland Restoration Project.

According to the restoration project:

Features
The area is an extensive natural resource located within a culturally significant landscape: being all that remains of a vast wetland region once adjacent to papakainga for hapu; Ngati Te Rangitawhia, Te Mateawa and Ngati Kapumanawhiti ki Kuku, all of whom are affiliated to Ngati Tukorehe. Its name, Te Hakari, (a feast or abundance), has relevance for its historical uses as a food gathering area of tuna and inanga. The wetland is also home to 62 native and introduced bird species including endangered, indigenous birds such as matuku (bittern) and koitareke (spotless crake).

History
Historically the area had healthy forests, a series of lakes, lagoons and wetlands. Despite being drained over the last century and considerably depleted, what remains of Te Hakari Wetland represents the most important area of its type in the region.

Te Hakari Dune Wetland Restoration Project has been protected by a covenant since 2001.

The project embodies a holistic approach: re-uniting and re-vitalising core spiritual, cultural and ecological values with restoration of the land. The ancestral narratives about whakapapa to the land and its original uses underpin and inform decision making, and the consequent directions taken.

Protection work
Initiatives undertaken with Nga Whenua Rahui funding and support have been:

  • Fencing the wetland area to keep livestock out.
  • Supplying and planting more than 10,500 indigenous plants throughout 2002 - 2006.
  • Construction of temporary weirs to prevent further drainage from the wetland. (This is part of an ongoing hydrology project whereby, through raising the water levels within the wetland, water has returned to its original levels according to land contours. This has enabled regeneration of native wetland grasses and encouraged the return of larger populations of wading species.)
  • Clearing the choked Te Hakari Lake of raupo. Water levels were lowered from October 2005 so the mechanical dig could be started in February 2006. This created opened areas of water which in turn enhanced fish and bird life within the lake habitat.
  • Implementation of an ongoing pest control programme.
  • Implementation of a fire protection scheme.

Further aims of Te Hakari Dune Wetland Restoration Project are:

  • To digitally archive all matauranga Maori about indigenous biodiversity held by kaumatua.
  • To digitally archive korero-a-iwi.
  • To establish a pa harakeke (weaving resource) in prepared sites through out the wetland. Each site would contain differing species of harakeke (flax).
  • To restore the tuna and inanga habitats using the customary knowledge of the elders.
  • To acknowledge that all trees planted have medicinal or beneficial purposes for next generations.
  • To research and document all areas of wahi tapu (for example burial or battlegrounds), to ensure their protection.

Website: http://www.doc.govt.nz/getting-involved/volunteer-join-or-start-a-project/start-or-fund-a-project/funding/for-landowners/nga-whenua-rahui/nga-whenua-rahui-fund/featured-projects/te-hakari/

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