For generations it’s been a major food store for people of the Whangarei district. Now pipi banks at the entrance to Whangarei Harbour are disappearing fast with scientists stumped as to the reason for the sharp decline in stocks.
Pipis are estimated to have slumped from 10,000 tonnes to around 100 tonnes. Whangarei local Pirihi Milner says, “We used to pick scallops there by the mangroves when we were kids and pipis and oysters. Oysters on the mangroves are all gone.”
Dr James Williams a scientist from NIWA believes there’s a low recruitment of new individual juvenile pipi to the population.
“It appears there’s been a natural mortality of pipi growing towards the end of their lifespan between 2005 to 2014,” Dr Williams says.
Patuharakeke says that as kaitiaki right now they need the resources to carry out the monitoring and research needed to maintain the food resources here like the pipi to halt the decline.