Muaūpoko whānau and local community members are gathering tomorrow to celebrate five years since parties representing the owners, community interests and statutory bodies agreed to work together to halt the degradation of Lake Horowhenua and put in place remedial measures to return it to its former glory, forming He Hokioi Rerenga Tahi/ the Lake Horowhenua Accord.
"For the first time in over two decades, whānau will once again access Lake Horowhenua via the beginning stages of a new walkway currently stretching along the eastern side, before joining members of the local community to release thousands of eel and plant more than 600 native trees along the Arawhata sediment trap, adjacent to Kohuturoa Marae," said Lake Horowhenua Trust chairman Matt Sword.
As part of the celebrations a new pou will also be revealed. This will be located at the Arawhata sediment wetlands next to the Kohaturoa Marae on Hokio Beach Rd.
Designed by Muaūpoko artist Sian Montgomery-Nutze, the four metre tall pou symbolises a lake that's achieving its full potential with abundant birdlife.
He Hokioi Rerenga Tahi is a reference to the legendary giant eagle that was once located in the Horowhenua region. It's a whakatauki that translates as 'an eagle's flight is seen but once'. It's also a call for unity.
"This best describes our overarching purpose of coming together to collaborate, progress and resolve, once and for all, the condition of Lake Horowhenua," said Sword. "We're really excited about this opportunity for whānau to come and connect with the lake in a way that hasn't been possible in a very long time."
Having grown the eel from infancy as glass eel in the lake trust's own aquaculture facility, they will be repatriated back into the lake to give the lake fishery a boost. This event also comes with a special cultural significance.
"In ancient times, Muaūpoko was known for their eels and innovative eel husbandry practices," says Robert Warrington, Muaūpoko fisherman and glass eel project manager.
"This is not just about restoring our fisheries and giving the lake a boost — it's also about celebrating and recapturing some of our ancient knowledge and history."
The event starts at Kohuturoa Marae at 9am on Saturday.