A project has been launched by Ngati Whatua Orakei to improve the waters of Okahu Bay.
Ngati Whatua Orakei says this is one of several restoration programmes to restore the mauri (life force) of Okahu Bay 100 years after a sewage pipe introduced pollution and disease into the waters.
A Unitec study by Richelle Kahui-McConnell revealed that there were only 500 shellfish per square meter in the bay, a healthy bay should support around 4500 shellfish per square metre.
Read more from the study's findings here.
Te Hira Hawke, of Orakei, remembers when beds were full of kaimoana: "You never had to go far to collect enough to feed an entire tangi.''
He and his neighbours gave up 15 years ago. They were getting blotchy spots when they entered the water.
"It seems that everything gets dumped onto our beach and it turns into a bowl of everybody's run-off,'' he says.
Over the past seven years Ngati Whatua Orakei have set their own environmental health indicators and objectives for the bay to define the exact state of the environment.
Okahu Bay suffers from typical impacts in an urban setting; high sedimentation, high loads of heavy metals and infrastructure that introduces pollution into the marine environment.
The scheme will use native mussels to filter the water to increase the mauri and ecological health of the bay.
Mussels, as bio-remediators, are known to filter high quantities of water each day.
On August 23 Ngati Whatua Orakei will start the process of re-building the mussel reef that previously existed in the area.
The hapu will welcome the mussels that come from Ngati Paoa in Kaiaua as they arrive.
The Orakei Water Sports waka ama crew, alongside the Auckland University and Okahu Bay Landing boats, will lay the first stages of the mussel reef restoration beds at the call from the putatara (shell trumpet) at 0930 on Saturday 23 August at Okahu Bay.
Project Manager Richelle Kahui-McConnell says this is a triumph for iwi.
"Their matauranga (Maori knowledge) and commitment to restoring the mauri of the hapu and the bay is for the long term benefit of generations of Aucklanders to come".
The Okahu Bay restoration project is associated with a wider initiative by the group Revive Our Gulf to restore the mussel beds of the Hauraki Gulf.
Trial plots have been established by the group and monitoring has shown that the new reefs are growing and attracting other species.