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Published: 2014-09-18 00:00:00

A karakia has been performed by tangata whenua and local kaumaatua to acknowledge the significance of Lake Waikare and the nearby Whangamarino wetland to Waikato-Tainui and local hapuu.

The event at Lake Waikare yesterday was related to Waikato Regional Council’s work to refine its management plan for the lake and wetland, in consultation with Waikato-Tainui and other stakeholders.

As part of work on its long term plan, the council will work with iwi and others to identify what’s needed to develop and implement this plan. This review will include looking at how to better manage the discharge of water from Lake Waikare through the flood control gate while maintaining the viability of the local flood protection scheme.

Local iwi representatives and kaumaatua at the karakia ceremony were joined by councillors and staff from the regional council, Waikato District Council, Genesis Energy and other organisations.

“The ceremony provided a unique opportunity to better understand the importance that the lake and wetland have for local iwi who live around the lake. The karakia was also designed to support our lake management work going forward,” said the regional council’s lower Waikato zone manager Michael Duffy.

“There is a need to manage the lake and wetland catchments collaboratively within the co-management framework with iwi to achieve a range of cultural, social, environmental and economic outcomes.

“We’re committed to working together with Waikato-Tainui and other stakeholders to develop a management strategy for the future. It’s great to see the many parties interested in this work joining together for this karakia in a spirit of co-operation.”

Moko Tauariki, the chair of Ngaa Muka Development Trust, said: “Marae from Waikato-Tainui who hold kaitiaki (guardianship) responsibilities of Lake Waikare have returned to traditional customary practices of karakia. Lake Waikare is not a dead lake as some have stated. It has a mauri (lifeforce) which tangata whenua are entrusted to preserve. That preservation is reciprocated in the form of karakia and regular interaction with the lake. Wednesday morning was certainly a great step to giving effect to the principles of co-management and we will work very hard to ensure the restoration, health and wellbeing - as prescribed within the Vision and Strategy for the Waikato River and its tributaries - is carried out as best we can together."

Waikato District Council’s representative at the ceremony Cr Jan Sedgwick said: “There is a real need to engage the community in this process. I am inundated with a number of requests from interested people and groups from Te Kauwhata who are keen to improve the water in Lake Waikare. Many locals fondly remember swimming and boating on the lake as children. A collaborative approach to set a clear direction forward, as to how to better manage the lake and surrounding catchments is fully supported by our council.”

National Wetland Trust trustee Michelle Archer also attended the karakia. “Given that the water from Lake Waikare drains through one of our six internationally significant wetlands, the National Wetland Trust is pleased to see the increased interest in improving water quality in the catchment,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mr Duffy said that the karakia also blessed Waikato Regional Council staff and consultants who will undertake investigations on the lake.

“Those investigations are part of seeking future solutions to address ongoing sedimentation issues within the Whangamarino wetland.”