The price of fish for Tūwharetoa

By Wena Harawira

In the Central North Island, there's an initiative to revive fishing and the gathering food from Lake Taupō and its waterways, among Tūwharetoa youth. The practice seems to have given way to takeaways and modern past times. But 'Tamariki Hī Ika' aims to encourage the tribe's children and their families to take up those traditions again.

Ngahere Wall's father taught him how to fish.

“My father taught me to cast in puddles when I was about 2 or 3 years old and from there I graduated to coming down to the river doing what I do now, it was just like having a stick with a line at the end and just throwing it into the water.”

Wall is an experienced trout fisherman and his knowledge has been passed down to his own children. But young people on the water are rarely seen nowadays.

“We're in a digital now so I totally understand why the kids don't see this as exciting. But they see the benefit when it's on the plate though, it's a way to feed the family.”

So the Tūwharetoa Māori Trust Board set up Tamariki Hī Ika, to encourage their youth in trout fishing and in gathering food like fresh water crayfish.

Topia Rameka says, “Just under 600 of our tamariki have come through our doors and taken up the opportunity to get the licences and the rods and get out there and get amongst their whenua and moana.”

With Tamariki Hī Ika Tūwharetoa youth aged 16 and under, receive free fishing licences. The company Hunting & Fishing is supporting the initiative by discounting fishing rods from $150 to just $45.

“They were quick to come on board with this kaupapa knowing that a lot of the whānau were hunters and gatherers and fishers and so on,” says Rameka.

“So any initiative that can be out there to encourage them to get amongst it, I'm in total support of things like that,” says Wall.

The trout weren't biting for our camera today. But when things don't go according to plan, an expert always has a Plan B.