This morning a contingent of 20 Whakatōhea leaders and tohunga met at Paerata ridge. Their purpose was to lift the rāhui that they had imposed over their waters.
The key to this was the recital of important karakia. Once this was done, Whakatōhea could then declare their seas open and ready.
Chairman for the Te Whakatōhea Trust Board Ropata Eruera told Te Ao:
“Today the restrictions of our rāhui are released. It's definitely played an integral role. Now the time has come to return to business as usual.”
To date Ngāti Awa, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui have lifted their rāhui and as of this morning Te Whakatōhea has followed suit. This means that almost the entire eastern Bay of Plenty coastline, is now noa, which means free and open.
“Our deepest sympathies are with those who are still missing and we hope they are found soon. For now, we'll return to our lives and continue to do our best, not just for us but everyone.”
A hapū spokesperson from Te Whakatōhea Dawn Hill says, it's only fair that the hapū that laid the rāhui should have the mana to lift it.
“There seems to be some confusion around the rāhui with different messages being put out. Through rūnanga or trust boards or other groups.
“With all due respect to the people who have done that, Ngāti Tamahaua’s position is that it sits with the hapū.
“I believe other hapū members have said the same thing. Only those who have placed the rāhui are the ones who should remove the rāhui.”
The rāhui needed to be lifted so that Whakatōhea could save the first harvest from their mussel farms.
Eruera says, “Our mussel farming business is important to us. Right now our farms are ready for harvest and if we leave them there any longer the offspring will go to waste. It's a deep concern for us at this stage.”
As members of Whakatōhea return to their beloved sea, the rāhui on Whakaari still remains.