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Te Wai Māori Trust Demands Native Eel Protection

25 January 2019

Te Wai Māori Trust met with Iwi representatives in Wellington on Wednesday to discuss options for improving the health and wellbeing of tuna (eel) in the face of ongoing habitat degradation and the effects of climate change on this iconic indigenous freshwater species.

“Tuna are a taonga species for Iwi Māori and an iconic species for New Zealand nationally.” Trust Chairman Ken Mair said. “As a country we need to step up our efforts to protect this national taonga.”

Te Wai Māori Trust was established under the Maori Fisheries Act 2004 to advance Māori interests in freshwater fisheries, and the health and wellbeing of tuna remains one of its key focus points.

“The health and wellbeing of tuna are a good indicator of overall freshwater environmental health,” Mr Mair said, “Providing for their protection and wellbeing will have positive benefits for all our freshwater species.”

Te Wai Māori Trust believes the increasing impacts of climate change need to be factored into long-term habitat and fisheries management decisions to provide for the health and abundance of tuna in our waterways. “Iwi have an ancient whakapapa relationship with tuna which forms an important part of our identity. Te Wai Māori is committed to working with Iwi, local and central Government, and other agencies to progress initiatives that provide for enhanced recognition and status for tuna. Te Wai Māori believes that empowering Iwi and hapū to participate fully in decisions relating to tuna, as well as a suite of regulatory and compliance mechanisms can provide real benefits for the health and wellbeing of this taonga. We cannot continue on as we are, we need immediate action to halt the degradation of tuna habitat. It is imperative that we act now to preserve this taonga species for generations to come.” Mr Mair said.

Te Wai Māori Trust has been participating in ongoing dialogue regarding climate change and freshwater management and is clear that Government and the community must do more to improve the wellbeing of New Zealand’s indigenous freshwater fisheries.

ENDS

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