We are embarking on a long term project to measure and monitor the health of our lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands, from a cultural point of view. We want to develop a way of doing so that is simple, measurable, and recognises the different ways in which whānau at each lake know that the environment is healthy. For some, this is the abundance of koura; for others it is the presence of dragonflies or sound of frogs or even the absence of lake weed.

We will review existing cultural monitoring tools around and find a tool (or hybrid of tools) that, simply put, tell us: “can I swim here?”, “can I gather food here?”. We recognise that one size may not fit all and therefore, we will develop and adapt this tool lake by lake.

Our process has been shaped by funding. Therefore, our initial focus on the cultural health of lakes within the Tarawera System (Lake Tarawera and all lakes that drain into it).

We are forming a working group in the coming weeks, comprising whānau from that area to help guide and shape this project. We will advertise shortly for Expressions of Interest for this group.