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Mahinga kai explored at community hāngī

Learning about traditional mahinga kai, including our native tuna (eels), in and around our waterways was the theme of a special community meeting and hāngī in Ōmarama on 20 November.

The Upper Waitaki Water Zone Committee event included an informal meeting, talks from local rūnanga representatives on mahinga kai natural resources, and then a delicious hāngī.

Mahinga kai is about the value of natural resources – our birds, plants, fish, and other animals and resources that sustain life, including the life of people.

Upper Waitaki Water Zone Committee members present on the day (left to right) John Wilkie, Cr Stuart Barwood, Cr John Sunckell, Kieran Whyte, Mat Bayliss, Joy Paterson, Richard Subtil, Michael MacMillan and Simon Cameron.

The event, hosted by Richard and Annabelle Subtil at Ōmarama Station, was a chance for people of all ages, including Ōmarama School pupils, to enjoy some kai and talk with members of the Upper Waitaki Water Zone Committee about the work they have been doing and water management issues in the area.

Sharing ideas

Some of the topics discussed included the idea for a collaborative community restoration project at Twizel River and plans to increase public awareness of responsible toilet use at Lake Ruataniwha over summer.

Environment Canterbury Poū Matai Kō mahinga kai facilitator, Rosemary Clucas, talks to Ōmarama School students about native species such as pūhā (Sow thistles) found in streams.

Kieran Whyte, zone committee rūnanga representative, demonstrates how native tuna are caught as part of a ‘trap and transfer’ project to protect the species.

Another zone committee rūnanga representative - Michael MacMillan - describes the traditional hāngī process.

Participants then got the chance to move around the area to experience three short mahinga kai talks, including learning about the life cycle and characteristics of tuna (eels) and other native fish and plants, as well as the process for creating a hāngī.

Preparing the hāngī

The hāngī was prepared and served by a team of volunteers, including kaitiaki rūnanga for the Upper Waitaki catchment (Te Rūnanga o Arowhenua, Te Rūnanga o Moeraki, and Te Rūnanga o Waihao).

The steaming baskets of kai are revealed once the earth and sacks are removed.
Students from Ōmarama school feeling the hāngī warming up and enjoying the kai.

About the Committee

The Upper Waitaki Water Zone Committee is a joint committee made up of community members, rūnanga and local councils.

Find out more about the work the Upper Waitaki Water Zone Committee is doing.

The Committee meets regularly to address issues affecting water quality and quantity in the area. Members of the public are welcome to attend the meetings. Find out when the next meeting is.