An official rāhui has been placed over one of New Zealand's popular destinations, the Matapouri Mermaid Pools. To mark the occasion, the local hapū unveiled a guardian post, a prohibition marker to help restore the pools to a healthier state.
Before the break of dawn, the blessings and prayers of Te Whānau a Rangiwhakaahu resonated at the unveiling of their pou.
Te Whānau a Rangiwhakāhu spokesperson Aperahama Edwards says, “It's been a long time coming but this morning we finally erected our prohibition post.”
The poupou are guardians of the Mermaid Pools.
“The post is called Rangitapu and it’s also the name of the area in which it stands. We've personified two taniwha who lived in the pools and their names are Tuatini and Mauri.”
The popular tourist destination is located near Whangarei on the eastern shores. Ecological reports of human waste, toxic sunblock and a new algal bloom in the water have transformed what used to be tranquil tidal pools into murky depths.
Local Jennifer Greet Wilson-Stewart reflects on her memories of the pools.
"I went over to the pools last year, I remember them as they were. We did not abuse the water by peddling and pooing in it- it distressed me terribly."
The iwi is also asking for support from tourism companies.
"Places like Lonely Planet, Trip Advisor and things like that- would be really great if they came on board and sent those messages out. People are still welcome to come it's just that - Te Wai o Te Taniwha or Mermaid Pools needs time to rest, to recover,” says Dorothy Ataahua Waetford.
The rāhui will remain until the iwi is confident the pools have returned to a healthier state.