When Davina Thompson entered into the catfish trapping competition as part of the Te Arawa Games, she never imagined it would spark a passion for eradiating the pests – and a job.


Today, her volunteering has morphed into a role with Te Arawa Lakes Trust, helping others spark a passion in netting the pest and controlling their spread around the lakes.


For Davina, it’s a chance to extend her Ngati Rangitihi roots and better contact with the lakes.


“I love being out on our lakes and knowing what we do is protecting our lakes.”


Her five children, aged between 18 and 10 months all help.


“They love the land, the lakes, the whenua. They now have a relationship with that piece of paradise.”


The paradise Davina is referring to is Rotoiti’s Te Weta Bay, where the bulk of the catfish netting takes place.


“It feels really good to know we are doing out bit to preserve our lakes and our future. We are from Matata so don’t get to connect to our lakes as often. This is a good way to connect to our whakapapa.”


Davina says when the opportunity came up to transition from volunteering into a paid role she jumped at it.


“It’s like a dream for me, it’s not even work.”


Davina says she has always been passionate about protecting the environment


“I did my first protest when I was 11 and Greenpeace came to Matata.”


A particular highlight in her work through Te Arawa Lakes Trust is seeing the interest in the next generation and the interest they are showing.


“We’ve been working with the schools in Kawerau who are get involved.”


For Davina, it’s also tied in well with her own studies towards a Masters of Indigenous Studies, which includes her looking at the impacts of maramataka (the Māori lunar calendar) and its impact on catfish numbers.


Te Arawa Lakes Trust environment manager Nicki Douglas says TALT is thrilled to have Davina on the team.


“She has a great way with people a passion for te taiao and the flexibility of part time works for her whanau and our volunteers.’