Rāhui on Whakaari, is anyone really listening?

By Aroha Mane

The prohibition and cautions of rāhui across coastal areas have been supported by many living in the Bay of Plenty region out of respect for those affected by the Whakaari eruption. But Christmas, hot weather and the need for seafood has seen some disregard the rāhui. Te Ao spoke to Mātaatua iwi, who are doing their best to hold the rāhui frontline, about the situation.

“Just straight out in front of the house, there are commercial boats fishing out in the bay. Like really does everyone understand that there's a rāhui on? So they shouldn't be in the bay fishing," holidaymaker Steve Cosgrove says. 

"So the Aucklanders who are receiving their fresh snapper today, do they know it's from a bay that's closed?" he says.

Pouroto Ngāropo (Ngāti Awa) says, “The rāhui has been dishonoured and disrespected and I'm really concerned.”

“My understanding also is that a rāhui is a full prohibition, you cannot have half a rāhui,” Dawn Hill (Ngāti Tamahaua) says.

Ngaropo says, “There is a restriction on doing any type of activity in and on the water, surfing isn't permitted, waka ama isn't permitted. It's not an area to play in and it’s not a place to picnic, to gather food or go fishing.

"It's currently within the realm of its respective divine beings. It also clears the way for specific emergency services allocated to Whakaari," he says.

“Well, we can go back to our tupuna Muriwai, Muriwai set that taumata for us 800 years ago when her two sons drowned,” Hill says.

Some key areas have lifted their rāhui but some would prefer it still remained.

“I personally feel the rāhui should still stand and there should be no activities on the water, not until the two missing are found,” Ngaropo says.

For now, the only guaranteed area under rāhui is Whakaari White Island.