Locals gain access to eeling reserve

By Heeni Brown
  • Northland

Tūtaewhero is a Māori eeling reserve, but for many of its descendants they haven't been able to gain access to the reserve and practice their methods of cultivating Tuna or eel.

Millan Ruka of Te Uri Roroi, Te Māhurehure and Te Parawha says, "Special for me today because we've all written about this particular place in our claim and now we're back here to claim it, but respectively so we can say this is our gathering place for pā tuna."

A local group of Māori and environmentalists are using this road to gain access to the Wairua river near Tūtaewhero reserve.

"For the last two months we've been denied access to come down to an eeling reserve. Eeling reserve was designated in the late 1800s as an eeling reserve for the hapū in the district here. But in particular it's in the whenua of Ngāti Kahu o Torongare."

For many years people wanting to get to the reserve have been denied access by the owner of a nearby farm. But Fiona Furrell says the road they are using today is a public one.  

Northland Environmental Protection Society's Fiona Furrell says, "Mainly here for conservation reasons and to see what the river was like and because it is a public access. I think that New Zealanders have a right to access their public roads to the river and I think that would be well used by the Kayaks, tourists. It's important that we get here and see the condition of the river and the river banks and the lands surrounding."

Millan Ruka says, 'We've got our kaumātua here too, Pita Cherrington and other hapū right from here, who most of them haven't been able to visit this place in their lifetime."

We tried to reach Bill Shepard who owns the farm with access to this end of the Wairua river near Tūtaewhero, but he is yet to respond to this issue.