Guardians mark unveiling of Pou pou marine reserve markers in Fiordland

All Pou pou lined up awaiting deployment

The Fiordland Marine Guardians celebrated a significant milestone with the unveiling of newly erected Pou pou marine reserve markers in Kahukura Marine Reserve, Charles Sound. During the unveiling ceremony on the 12th February, Guardians Chairperson Malcolm Lawson acknowledged that the new Pou pou markers erection was a culmination of several years collaborative concept planning and effort by the Fiordland Marine Guardians, the Department of Conservation and local Iwi from the Oraka-Aparima Runaka (the mandated Iwi Kaitiaki) on behalf of the wider Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu.

The ceremony in Charles Sound was held aboard the DOC vessel Southern Winds, which had transported in the main body of Fiordland Marine Guardians, invited Agency advisors and representatives from each of the four Southland Runaka: Oraka-Aparima; Awarua; Waihopai; and Hokonui.

The invited dignitaries were Sir Mark Solomon, the Chairperson of Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu and Kevin O’Connor, Deputy Director-General, Conservation Services who were flown into the area by Southern Lakes Helicopters before being transported to the site of the ceremony by fishing boat.

The Pou pou project stemmed from the Guardians desire to adequately promote and indentify marine reserve boundaries with markers that were more in keeping with the wilderness values of the fiords. Traditionally marine reserves are marked with standard DOC triangle boundary markers. Significantly for tangata whenua, the new Pou pou symbolise Ngai Tahus’ enduring kaitiakitanga (Guardianship) of Atawhenua (Fiordland) and the present shared partnership with the Guardians and the management agencies.

The Guardian’s initiated project was led by Stewart Bull, a long serving Ngai Tahu representative on the Guardians and project managed by Richard Kinsey, DOC Marine Ranger from Te Anau. Bubba Thompson, a talented local carver from the Awarua Runanga was commissioned to design and carve the Pou pou, with each one representative of various ancestors from Ngai Tahu mythology.

Now approaching 9-years since the management regime inception in 2005, Guardians and Agency collaborative management model is touted both nationally and internationally as being highly successful in delivering ongoing sound conservation management of Fiordland’s fisheries and marine environment for the future benefit and enjoyment of all.

This point was well made by several speakers including Sir Mark Solomon, who warmly praised the success of the Fiordland Marine Guardians in his speech. Sir Mark acknowledged the Guardians model as a template and inspiration to others. Having closely followed the progress of the Fiordland Marine Guardians, Sir Mark acknowledged the community led structure, which his own Kaikoura Community have emulated in setting up Te Korowai o Te Tai ō Marokura/ The Kaikoura Coastal Marine Guardians.

The new Pou pou are designed to be both attractive and functional to withstand the vigorous fiord marine environment. The Pou pou have been individually carved and mounted on stainless steel poles drilled into the fiord rock wall. The Pou pou production and installation has been jointly funded by Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu and DOC.

In the lead up to the Charles Sound ceremony, Bubba Thompson and Ron Bull (representing local Iwi) worked with DOC staff on the GV Southern Winds to erect a further four Pou pou in Bligh Sound to mark the Hawea (Clio Rocks) Marine Reserve. The installation work continues with the team heading south down to Acheron Passage to erect markers for the Moana Uta (Wet Jacket Arm) Marine Reserve and Taumoana (Five Fingers) Marine Reserve in Dusky Sound. As time permits Pou pou will also be erected in Te Tapuwae o Hua (Long Sound) Marine Reserve in Preservation Inlet and Te Hapua Marine Reserve in Sutherland Sound.

The Guardians intend initiating discussions with DOC regarding the possibility of changing the markers in Piopiotahi (Milford Sound), Kutu Parera (Gaer Arm), Te Awaatu Channel (The Gut), and Taipari Roa (Elizabeth Island) from the current white triangle markers to Pou Pou in the foreseeable future.

Stephen Logie, MPI; Richard Kinsey DOC; Malcolm Lawson FMG.

A Big Thank You!

The Fiordland Marine Guardians would like to thank the following organisations for enabling this momentus occasion to take place:

Real Journeys

Who provided transport across Lake Manapouri and the Wilmot Pass and were most accommodating with our requirements. Their staff are true professionals who are informed about the area and very friendly.

Southern Lakes Helicopters

Provided transport for the VIPs from Te Anau to the chopper pad in Charles Sound and then back to Te Anau at the conclusion of the ceremony. Richard Hayes gave them a really memorable trip along the Sounds due to the low cloud level, which sounded fantastic!

Deep Cove Outdoor Education Trust

A very big thank you to Paul Gay and the Trust, for providing accommodation for the majority of the people attending the ceremony free of charge in your new hostel, and to Billy for being so helpful. The hostel was most comfortable and it was much appreciated.

Alison O’Sullivan, FMG secretary