Guardians of the lake
Five Pound Island is a stark reminder of looking after what is right in front of us. Kaitiakitanga/guardianship of our natural assets has never been as important as it is today.
The ways in which we can accomplish that are simple, said Upper Waitaki Zone Water Committee chair Simon Cameron. Even planning our trips to the lakes and packing our picnics to reduce food and drink rubbish is a huge stride in the right direction.
Pūkaki, meaning ‘source of stream’ in Māori, is one of three roughly parallel alpine lakes running along the northern edge of the Mackenzie Basin – Tekapo and Ōhau are the other two.
They are three of six lakes harnessed as reservoirs for hydroelectric generation in the Upper Waitaki Hydroelectric Scheme, run by Meridian Energy.
The Scheme in itself provided thousands of jobs during the construction of dams, canals and Lake Ruataniwha, and eventuated in the construction of Twizel in the late 1960s, where more than 2000 people now reside.
Altogether the Scheme provides 20 per cent of New Zealand’s yearly power.
Pūkaki and Tekapo generate a combined 50 per cent of the country’s hydroelectricity power.
The power of water knows no bounds - and this video proves it.
What the Rūnanga have to say
Te Rūnanga o Moeraki kaumatua David Higgins said the lake is a tīpuna/ancestor and therefore has a special place in the hearts of iwi.
“It’s one of the many ancestral lakes that connects us to our land and our maunga (mountains).
“It was also one of the many resource-gathering sites. We had pā (villages) interspersed around the lake edge, one was where the Pūkaki village is today.
“But those alpine-fed or glacial-fed lakes are all places where our people would have stopped and rested on their way to mahinga kai sites and back,” he said.
What is there to do?
The recreational opportunities of the lake are not lost on the general public. Whether a first-time visitor to the area or visiting the area is a family tradition, Pūkaki is nationally renowned for its salmon farming at the southern end as well as trout fishing on the lake itself.