Lake Ōkataina - Kōura Baseline Report: Wai Ora

The Lake Ōkataina Taonga Fisheries Project is a joint collaboration between Te Arawa Lakes Trust and Ngāti Tarawhai Iwi Trust to undertake baseline kōura assessment using traditional Tau Kōura methods on Lake Ōkataina. Lake Ōkataina is one of fourteen lakes within the Rotorua region and is located 30 minutes from the Rotorua city centre on State Highway 30.

The Lake Ōkataina Taonga Fisheries Project enabled local hapū members to actively participate in kōura monitoring under the expert guidance of local expert, Dr Ian Kusabs, supported by Joe Butterworth and environmental experts from Te Arawa Lakes Trust.

This project sought to provide the hapū of Lake Ōkataina with a knowledge base about kōura species within the Te Arawa lakes – via a baseline assessment project and ongoing monitoring and to identify ways in which mōhiotanga Māori, tikanga and kawa can be used to monitor taonga fish species within Ōkataina and the streams and tributaries feeding into Ōkataina. This knowledge and these skills will support them to fulfill their role in future as the hunga tiaki of the Lake and waterways.

Our taonga fish species, which include kōura, kākahi and koaro, are indicators of lake health.

Prior to arrival of trout and other exotic species the Te Arawa Lakes teemed with food prized by Māori.

These foods consisted of:  kākahi, kōura. īnanga, toitoi, kōkopu.  Of these the most famous was the kōura1.

It is envisaged that to understand the full extent of the abundance and distribution of the range of species on Lake Ōkataina and its tributaries there will be a programme of work over a number of years. This project has successfully covered the first part of the journey which was to assess how things are (e.g. the current state of our taonga fish species via physical monitoring) and how things used to be (via koeke interviews and wānanga) to guide where and we focus future mahi;  Kia whakatōmuri te haere whakamua.

The project was funded by the Wai Maori Trust from the WaiOra Fund.

Thanks must go to Dr Ian Kusabs (Kōura Technician and Adviser), Joe Butterworth (Technician), Willie Emery (tohunga mahi kōura, Kōura Technician and Adviser) Ken Raureti (pouawhina), Mikaere Van Der Leeden – (pouawhina),  Pirimi Malcolm (tohunga mahi kōura), Rikihana Te Rangi (tohunga mahi kōura), Ngā tamariki o Te Wharekura o Ngāti Rongomai (pouawhina), Manu Malcolm (Ngāti Tarāwhai), Tere Malcolm (Ngāti Tarāwhai), Tarewa Rota (Ngāti Tarāwhai), Tame Malcolm (Ngāti Tarawhai), Cyrus Hingston (Project Coordinator, Ngāti Tarāwhai), Deliah Balle (Project Manager, TALT), Elva Conroy and Nicki Douglas (TALT support).