Protecting the path of Wairarapa's taniwha
Numerous sites around the Wellington region hold special significance to Maori and often iwi would like to know whether the site could support cultural values – such as whether water is suitable for mahinga kai (food gathering), or other uses including blessings and baptisms.
Greater Wellington Regional Council is working with iwi to help them identify the suitability of such sites through testing and monitoring of land and soil to ensure they are fit for purpose.
Kahungunu ki Wairarapa recently came to GWRC to undertake such work after they re-discovered a site, with a high waterfall, in the Wairarapa eastern hill country linked to the story of Ngarara-huarau, a taniwha who travelled into Wairarapa in search of his sister.
The iwi was interested in the water quality and wanted to assess its potential for cultural use and GWRC joined Kahungunu and the land owners on a visit to the site to make an assessment based both on scientific and cultural values.
The brief studies we undertook showed high clarity and low e-coli as well as good invertebrate communities, meaning that on the day the water was suitable for cultural use. Several key species such as long-fin eels and koura were also discovered.
As a result, the site has since been added to a schedule of significant tangata whenua sites in the region, this means that GWRC can support landowners and iwi to manage the site appropriately.