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Marine Reserve to turn 20 in November

The build-up has started for the anniversary of the biggest marine reserve in New Zealand.

Ngati Konohi in partnership with the Department of Conservation, will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve in November.

Situated just past Pouawa, the protected portion of beach and sea is home to eight different marine habitats, is a breeding ground for dotterel birds and contains a variety of seaweeds, kina, marine snails, sponges and many other marine animals.

In preparation for the celebrations, students and teachers from Whangara School planted native trees along a grassy stretch beside the road to the reserve.

Iwi member Mahora Edwards said it was about giving back to their whenua (land) in readiness for the marine reserve celebration.

“Our tamariki (children) from Whangara School planted 80 harakeke plants and a few cabbage trees with the assistance of Barry Foster (Forest and Bird Gisborne), Gillian Ward (Women’s Native Tree Project Trust), Bryan McCavana (Gisborne District Council land management officer) and Whangara teachers Jason Love and Gwen Stuart.

“Every plant that went into the ground was given a karakia (prayer) by our tamariki to keep their plant safe and help them on their journey.”

Mrs Edwards thanked the Women’s Native Tree Project Trust for its koha (donation/gift) of plants.

There will be other monthly activities to get the area ready for the celebration.

The anniversary day itself will be a fun-filled occasion for all the family. Whangara School will host a fundraiser sausage sizzle along with a cup of tea. Participants will be encouraged to bring swimwear if it is warm.

Forest and Bird Gisborne secretary Barry Foster is also part of the organising committee.

“Only 1 percent of New Zealand coastlines are protected so we really do need more marine reserves like this around the country — especially with the challenges we’ve got ahead in the environment,” he said. “Marine reserve rules include no fishing of any kind; don’t take or kill marine life; don’t remove or disturb any marine life or materials; don’t feed fish — it disturbs their natural behaviour; and take care when anchoring to avoid damaging the seafloor.”

Pouawa Marine Reserve.
PLANT AND A PRAYER: The weather was cold and rainy but Whangara School students Ryan Love and Korbyn Whanarere put their hoodies up and got stuck in to plant native trees in preparation for the 20th anniversary celebration of Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve in November. The students gave a karakia (prayer) for each plant. Pictures supplied