Agreement forges new future for Te Waihora
23 June 2010
Ngāi Tahu and commercial fishers have signed an agreement that will see a financial contribution go towards protecting and enhancing the health of Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere).
"Te Waihora Management Board and the fishers have put in a lot of effort and compromise to come up with a solution that meets the expectations of both parties while recognising the mana of Ngāi Tahu and the fishers’ relationship with the lake. We are very pleased to now be in a position to work together for the betterment of the lake," says Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Mark Solomon.
Commercial eel fisher Clem Smith says the fishers look forward to working closely with Ngāi Tahu.
"We are pleased to be able to make a contribution towards the restoration of the lake and look forward to working closely with Ngāi Tahu as we have done in the past. We believe together we can turn Te Waihora into a world renown eel fishery," he says.
The agreement which came in to effect yesterday (Tuesday 22 June) will ensure commercial fishing activities contribute a set portion of revenue to a fund that will go directly to lake projects. This is on top of funds Ngāi Tahu already allocates for this purpose. The agreement does not affect recreational or customary users or activities.
There are currently seven commercial fishers operating on the lake.
"The welfare of Te Waihora has been of concern to most users of the lake for a number of years. As owners of the lakebed we have always taken an active role in managing Te Waihora," says Mark Solomon.
The bed of Te Waihora was returned to Ngāi Tahu in fee simple ownership as part of the Deed of Settlement of 1998. Since that time Ngāi Tahu, represented by the Te Waihora Management Board, has worked with the Department of Conservation (DoC) on a joint management plan for the lakebed and surrounding DoC administered lands.
The main focus of the plan, which was finalised in December 2005, is to restore Te Waihora as a tribal food resource, and the lake environment for the use and enjoyment of all New Zealanders now and in the future.
"All funds generated by this agreement will be used to administer the system and to fund enhancement projects so that we can maintain and enhance the Te Waihora environment," Mr Solomon says.
Lake restoration projects include riparian planting, enhancement of kōhanga areas, lake monitoring, research projects and enhancement of the fishery.