Our overriding purpose is to return the voice to the forest. 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 Conservation Reserve. The Nursery sources seeds from the local Bush area and propagates those seeds for future planting. Approximately 50,000 plants have to date been planted around the base of Hakikino.
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 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.
Environmental Sustainability and Responsible Eco-Tourism Measures – Kaitiakitanga
We are very conscious of the importance of ensuring that the Hakikino Conservation Reserve is managed in an environmentally sustainable and responsible way.
- The Reserve protects more than 60 hectares (approximately 150 acres) of sacred land.
- The farm livestock of sheep and cattle are excluded from the Reserve to ensure that the native tree seedlings can grow without being detrimentally affected by the livestock.
- We have implemented a multi-year native tree planting programme. More than 100,000 native trees will be planted on the Reserve.
- The seeds for these new native trees are eco-sourced to ensure that the new plantings will be consistent with the original vegetation for this area.
- Our protected Reserve area includes a wetland and pond habitat as a safe home for the now endangered native long-fin eel. We are protecting these eels to allow them to breed and thereby help the species to survive.
- We are re-establishing the native flaxes (harakeke), which were most important to early Maori as a source of strong fibre for clothing, sandals, mats, cordage, fishing nets, sails, rafts, its medicinal purposes, and the nectar, which was an important food for birds and a sweetener for food.
- We source our water for the toilets and other cleaning requirements from a rain fed roof collection system.
- The septic system for our toilets is a natural eco-friendly bio-decomposing system, which does not have any impact on local streams and waterways, and is used to water the native plantings.
- Our cleaning products are eco-friendly and plant based, and our paper products are from recycled paper where possible.
- We maintain a recycling system for plastic and paper containers and products.
- We have used locally sourced bentonite and lime for the farm roads.
- The use of car pooling for staff and buses for large groups help improve our transport and fossil fuel efficiency.
- We use solar panels to generate the electricity needed on site.
- We continuously work with our suppliers to reduce their packaging and other unnecessary energy inputs.
- We regularly update our staff on the importance of their own contribution to sustainable environmental management.
- We hold annual training programmes for our staff and our community about eco-responsibility and sustainability.