Ecotourism with our Maori guides
Our vision is to bring back the original environment of our homelands by replenishing, replanting and respecting the land from the Sky to the Sea. In this way it will be as it was when our ancestors first came to live here.
Ecotourism is "Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people." (The International Ecotourism Society, 1990).
Waimarama Maori Eco Tours
That is what Waimarama Maori Tours are all about. It is owned and operated by the indigenous people of the area. We proudly subscribe to this definition and we strive to:
- Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect
- Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts
- Provide employment for local people
- Raise sensitivity to New Zealand’s environmental, and social climate
- Conserve biological diversity and cultural diversity through ecosystem protection
- Promote sustainable use of biodiversity, by providing jobs to local populations
- Share socio-economic benefits with our local communities
- Feature unspoiled natural resources
- Have minimal impact on the environment as a primary concern
- Local culture, flora and fauna are the main attractions
The owners of the farm facilitated the building and staffing of a nursery on site. The Nursery has been set up with the primary purpose of providing native plants for the conservation and restoration at the Hakikino Reserve. The Nursery sources seeds from the local Bush area and propagates those seeds for future planting. Approximately 20,000 plants have to date been planted around the base of Hakikino. The Nursery currently employs 3 workers and operates a cadet scheme to train additional members of the community. Outside contracts for seedlings are encouraged. The motivation for the Nursery is the protection of indigenous ecosystems on this Maori land.
Eels are New Zealand’s biggest endemic fish, which means these species are found nowhere else in the world and they have lived in NZ for about 80 million years. They mature at about 30 years of age, and can live to be over 80 years old.
In autumn and winter, some of the mature adult eels living at Hakikino will swim 6,500 kilometres north into the Pacific Ocean near Tonga and Samoa to breed. Adults have never been known to return, so it is presumed they die at the spawning grounds.
The larvae float on the ocean surface and are swept along the ocean currents that return to New Zealand and they head upstream into the waterways throughout New Zealand. Many return to Hakikino where they will remain for twenty or thirty years before they set off on this incredible journey as their ancestors did.
Maori studied eels intensively to determine life cycles, ages, habitat and migration patterns. This knowledge helped them determine how many eels they could be taken for food before depleting numbers to ensure they were maintained at a sustainable species level.
Eeling would occur at special times of the month and year according to a range of environmental indicators e.g. lunar cycles. Farming and ‘reseeding’ were common practices. This meant restocking waterways or holding eels in specially built enclosures. ‘Blind trenches’ were dug close to migration passages during the migrating season. This tricked the eel into thinking it was entering a normal stream. Once the trenches were filled with eel they were blocked off and the eels harvested.
The eels at the Hakikino reserve are not harvested. They are left to come and go of their own will and showcased as part of our unique eco-tours.
The Farm (Pouhokio Station)
The Station on which many of our eco tours are based is 1595 acres (638ha) in total area, with extensive areas of Conservation and Environmental planting.
A 20 hectare section of the farm has been covenanted and is now the Hakikino Reserve. The Farm owners have always been concerned with the cultural and historical significance of this particular site and saw this as a way to secure its future.
Less than one third of New Zealand's forest cover remains and as each year passes more is destroyed and along with it part of our natural heritage. Without direct proactive intervention eventually more of our natural areas, including the remnants of our indigenous forest and eco-systems will die. It is important these unique and diverse communities are preserved as functioning ecosystems for the enjoyment of future generations.
The main breed of sheep is the Romney, a dual type of sheep producing wool and meat. The sheep live totally on grass.
The breed of cattle carried is South Devon, an English beef breed which is very quiet, heavily muscled, quick growing beast with extremely tender meat. Our steers have topped the highest price at auction in New Zealand many times.
We also breed some of our own bulls on an elite breeding scheme, and only the best growth, temperament, and type are kept for our own use.
Each year we are sent 7-8 month Heifers to get in calf as yearlings. They are exported live to China, Malaysia, Mexico and South America for milking cows.