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Guardianship of the Changing Waters

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The November 2016 earthquake caused uplift along the Kaikōura coast, leaving large amounts of marine species high and dry. Now more than ever, it is important that different groups with an interest in the Kaikōura marine environment work together for its future protection.

Kaikōura marine environment interest groups

The sea is very important to many people for different reasons in Kaikōura. These people can be put into groups which define their interests in the sea:

Currently there is a need to manage how these groups interact with the marine environment. Managing human impact on the marine environment is a very sensitive issue.

Before the November 2016 earthquake, many of these groups had been concerned about the management of this marine environment. It was important that people took a guardianship view in collective decision-making. After nine years of work and discussion, a marine strategy was agreed on.

The Kaikōura Marine Management Act 2014

The Kaikōura (Te Tai-ō-Marokura) Marine Management Bill was signed into law as an Act of Parliament on Wednesday 6 August 2014. The Act was designed to put in place management measures for the coast and sea around Kaikōura (Te Tai-ō-Marokura) including a marine reserve, whale and New Zealand fur seal sanctuaries, five customary fisheries areas, an advisory committee, and fishing regulations specific to the area.

Role of Te Korowai o Te Tai ō Marokura

Te Korowai o Te Tai ō Marokura (The Kaikōura Marine Guardians) is an advisory committee for Te Whata Kai o Rakihouia i Te Tai ō Marokura/Kaikōura Marine Area. Its members are representatives from Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, the Kaikōura community, biosecurity, conservation, education, environment, fishing, marine science, and tourism groups. They all share an interest in the waters covered by the Act.

Since the Act was passed, Te Korowai continues to collaborate with all groups on managing marine protection and sustainable fishing of the marine environment. Now, more than ever, it is important that collaboration continues post-earthquake.

Earthquake damage to the Marine Coastal Area

The November 2016 earthquake caused different amounts of uplift along the coast. There was 6 metres of uplift at Waipapa Bay and 1.5 metres at the Kaikōura peninsula. Large amounts of marine species were left high and dry because of this uplift.

Because of the earthquake there have been huge losses of species such as:

  • pāua
  • crayfish/kōura
  • shellfish in general
  • inshore finfish
  • kelp forest
  • microalgae systems like ‘coraline algae’ (pink paint).

Jason Ruawai, a representative on Te Korowai o Te Tai ō Marokura and Chair of the Pāua Fishery Group, has been very involved in the marine management of the area.

“The obvious mortality of the life living in the environment is a tragic consequence of the uplift, but it is only a snapshot of what that area had been producing over history. Now, in terms of biodiversity, we still have all the same species but there is less habitat for them to occupy. We need to manage our impact to this environment carefully over the next years.”

Ecosystem recovery and resilience

While the marine ecosystem will never be the same, research is now suggesting the marine ecosystem is bouncing back for some species. NIWA have found signs of recovery in the Kaikōura Canyon seabed 10 months after the earthquake. Kaikōura High School students are learning firsthand about guardianship of the ecosystem through a programme to monitor and reseed pāua stocks.

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Values: Use this page as a starting point to look at your own values about the marine environment.

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November 2016 Earthquake

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A new marine reserve was part of the Kaikōura Marine Management Act. This image shows Māori Labour MP Rino Tirikatene & Local Runanga Member/Department of Conservation worker Brett Cowan at the opening of the Hikurangi Marine Reserve. Image: Ailsa Howard.

Team Te Korowai at the opening of the Hikurangi Marine Reserve. Te Korowai o Te Tai ō Marokura (The Kaikōura Marine Guardians) is an advisory committee for Te Whata Kai o Rakihouia i Te Tai ō Marokura/Kaikōura Marine Area. Image: Ailsa Howard.

The November 2016 earthquake caused different amounts of uplift along the coast. There was 6 metres of uplift at Waipapa Bay and 1.5 metres at the Kaikōura peninsula. Image: NZTA.

Huge amounts of marine species were left high and dry because of this uplift. How have people been affected by this? Image: NIWA.

NIWA have found signs of recovery in the Kaikōura Canyon seabed 10 months after the earthquake. What juvenile marine creatures are these? Image: Niwa.

Kaikōura High School students are learning about guardianship of the ecosystem through a programme to monitor and reseed pāua stocks. Image: Kaikoura High School.