Ūpokorehe kaitiaki worried freedom campers pillaging pipi beds

By Muriwai Hei

Residents of a small Bay of Plenty town just outside Ōpōtiki are worried about the influx of holiday campers this summer because so many are taking kaimoana from Te Ahiaua Reserve, also known as the Pipi Beds at Waiotahe.

They are concerned both about visitors attending the Rhythm and Vine Festival as well as the campers.

Ūpokorehe kaitiaki Sonia Nikora Kohiti and Jackie Biddle have started a petition, which already has 1,240 signatures and feedback, to stop campers from ripping all the kaimoana (seafood) out of the pipi beds. The reserve is a no-camp site but freedom campers are allowed as long as they have a certified self-contained vehicle to stay overnight on land managed by local councils.  

"We aim to protect our resources," Bibble says.

A hui was held with Ūpokorehe kaumatua and whānau to discuss matters before taking their petition to the Ōpōtiki District Council.

Nikora Kohiti posted a status on Facebook addressing the petition saying, “The petition is for no camping at all, fishing and shellfish. to allow the reserve to replenish. The area is not being monitored 24/7 and how can we be certain there is no inappropriate human and animal waste, and rubbish that would affect the kaimoana in the estuary? The facilities have no showers and not enough toilets for their stay. "  

So where are these campers bathing? 

"Hopefully, they didn't bathe in the bed.”