Maungaharuru-Tangitu Trust (MTT) in Hawke's Bay has secured a total of $600,000 in funding to help restore the quality of one of its most treasured tāonga, Lake Tūtira, a lake that is full of dying fish and eels.
Lake Tūtira is a sacred lake to the hapū under the Maungaharuru-Tangitū Trust, but it's sick.
Shayne Walker says, "It's extremely concerning with the mate of our tuna and the trout and we're really keen to understand more of why that is occurring and working closely with regional council to understand that."
The council believes a lack of oxygen in the lake at this time of the year causes fish to die. But understanding the lake is a complex task.
Andy Hicks from the Hawke's Bay Regional Council says, "The lake at the moment is an interesting beast. It's really hard to work out what's going on. So the nutrient levels are higher than they would be naturally but not super high. But we're still getting algae blooms every now and then which are of concern."
Scientists say the lake acts as a large sink that stores nutrients from run-off. That finding is based on data the Regional Council has been collecting every month since 2008.
Hicks says, "At the moment we've been collecting data. We're working with the university of Waikato to do some modelling on the lake to understand what makes it tick."
Te Mana o Te Wai funding has allowed the trust to lead the two-year Tūtira Mai Ngā Iwi Project to clean up the lake.
Walker says, "We have a role as we do with kaitaiakitanga to rectify that and make sure we can restore the mauri of the lake and the tuna, what these hapū were well known for."
Hapū are committed to cleaning up the lake and dead fish are something they don't want to see any more.