Native Affairs - Pāua volunteers back to the rescue

Mike Vincent and a group of the volunteer pāua relocation workers say they are pleased their work has got some recognitions from Ministry for Primary Industries. The important thing for them now is that they’ve been given the green light to return to the sea to continue their work.

It's good news for volunteers who have had nothing to do for the last four days.

Kaikōura Pāua Rescue Leader Mike Vincent says, “We can actually do our job now - what we came here for, and we want to get in the water, move some pāua and save some pāua.”

Vincent and his team relocated 56 tonnes of pāua over the weekend. They say they could move twice as many if they're given the go-ahead to continue their work.

Volunteer Barley Ngawati says, “There's so much work here to be done. As you can see there's a lot here that we've lost. There's nothing we can do about that but, you know, there is a line of pāua that we can move that is still living but dying and weakening day by day.”

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) plan is to set a place to restore and regenerate the sea life. It has been agreed that will be carried out at Omihi, a sacred area in Ngāti Kuri territory.

MPI Deputy Director-General Ben Dalton says, “We've already announced a $2m science budget to do the medium and long term science around what's going to occur around here. This is more a measure that's going to be in place for probably the next two weeks.”

“At this stage, we've only been allowed to have 30 divers and 6 people that control those divers. That'll be our zone, our test case,” says Vincent.

They are hoping the programme can also be carried out elsewhere.

Volunteer Alisha Riwaka says, “This is only a small portion. But a small portion at the moment is better than nothing. So, if we can do our part for our future generations then for us that means a lot.”

However as one challenge is overcome, another rises. Due to concerns around the blockage in Makura Stream, these volunteers are left with no choice yet again but to stop their work.