April 05, 2022
Wildfire threatens Waituna mahinga kai
A 1000 hectare fire on the Waituna wetland near Bluff is being brought under control, but it could be some weeks before it is fully out.
Awarua Rūnaka kaiwhakahaere Dean Whaanga flew over the fire yesterday by helicopter, and he says firefighters had done a great job and were in the process of dampening down hot spots.
They were worried about a wind change and the prospect of the fire getting established in the underlying layer of peat.
The wetland is owned by the Department of Conservation, but there is a statutory acknowledgement of its importance to iwi in the Ngāi Tahu Settlement.
“It sort of tells us about the significance of the area and all the taonga species and all the birdlife and the eels and the tuna and all those things our people used to use for food gathering and mahinga kai back in the day, and still do today,” Mr Whaanga says.
The firefighting effort could not dampen the iwi’s joy at this morning’s opening of a six-dwelling papakainga at Awarua Marae for its kaumatua.