Access to the northern end of Lake Tutira has been blocked until further notice by trustees and families of the B7 and B19 land blocks. These are lands that have only recently been returned to the trust after a 50-year lease expired last year.
They are exercising their mana whenua right and putting up a gate to shut out any public access through their land.
One of the trustess, Josephine Brown told Te Kāea, “It's come to this because really of people trespassing on to private property now and removing our property.”
16.5 hectares of land, including part of Lake Tutira, has just been returned to them.
But it seems not everyone is happy about it after the trust's signage was stolen.
“We've had a steel sign right here and that was taken first and we had one up on the lake and basically we're really browned off that they done that. We've never done any of this in the fifty years that the lease has been here and every man and his dog has travelled on this road” says Trustee chairman, Henare Ratima.
The road they're blocking is the shortest route to the northern end of the lake.
It's used by fishers and farmers. Now they'll have to go the long way around through a paper road.
“We've seen the disappearance of our wetlands, all of our native fish are no longer here. This place is called Te Wai Ū, Tutira Te Wai Ū this is what was used to sustain our people back for ages,” says Mr Ratima.
“You know we've seen public warnings of toxic water so what we're hoping to do is manually drag the lake of the obnoxious Hydrilla weed and reintroduce wetlands to improve water quality over time,” says Ms Brown.
It'll be a big job to restore their part of the lake, which was handed back to them in a toxic state.
But they're determined to achieve it along with restoring their ancestral land.