Waikato marae plan to eradicate Lake Waikare pest for profit

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Twelve Waikato marae want the opportunity to eradicate Koi Carp in Lake Waikare.  Getting rid of the pest could create employment opportunities for the locals.

Te Riu o Waikato marae cluster want to turn the pest koi carp into profit.

“We're looking at fertiliser, beauty products, a whole lot of different things that we're looking at,” says Te Riu o Waikato chair Tawera Nikau, “We're looking at harvesting that and making sure that the by-product can be turned into a business for our people.”

As part of making their initiative a reality Te Riu o Waikato cluster will carry out a feasibility study on the lake over the next two years.

“The data we will collect is catch data,” says reach co-ordinator Aareka Hopkins.

“We'll set up two nets, oriented north, south, east, west to see if there is any particular movement across the lake by the koi.  We'll weigh them, we'll measure them, and we'll count them.”

Koi carp are an ornamental native to Asia and Europe that were first found in the Waikato River in 1983.  Today there's an estimated population of 700,000 koi carp in Lake Waikare.

“I'm absolutely very confident that it is a very good initiative and it will- because it's labour-intensive- create a lot of jobs,” says NZ Waterways Restoration director Gray Jamieson.

“Whether you’re netting or netting regularly you need a lot of hands on.”

Lake Waikare is dying and the iwi see the only solution to restore the water back to health is to eradicate the koi.

“It is a pest, it has had an impact on our lakes and our rivers in the Waikato, so we want to start getting rid of it with a number of other initiatives that we're doing,” says Nikau, “Hopefully to make sure that our lake and our rivers are clean and drinkable and, I suppose, swimmable for our kids.”

Te Riu o Waikato cluster marae are looking to start their eradication programme with supporting research data within the next two years.