Taura kuku increase mussel numbers tenfold in Ōhiwa Harbour

  • 05/09/2022

A master Māori weaver and marine scientists have managed to increase mussel populations tenfold in the Ōhiwa Harbour in just two years.

Based on traditional mātauranga Māori, they created taura kuku (woven spat lines) from plants for shellfish to settle on in the Bay of Plenty harbour.

Mātauranga Māori is traditional Māori knowledge of natural resources, ecology, and the environment as experienced by tangata whenua in Aotearoa.

Waikato University Professor Kura Paul-Burke said indigenous knowledge systems are crucial for protecting native species like kuku (green-lipped mussels).

"Areas in the world where indigenous peoples speak their languages and continue to enact their traditional practices correlate strongly with areas of high biodiversity."

She said this study highlights how mātauranga Māori can complement marine science to protect the environment.

"It's ultimately about the future of our harbour, our kaimoana, and our mokopuna."

The scientists found the taura kuku were just as effective as plastic commercial spat lines.

After five months, the taura biodegraded and sank to the ocean floor.

Three new kuku beds formed near the restoration stations, which other marine species have made themselves home in too.

The Waikato University scientists worked alongside environmental groups MUSA Environmental, Tidal Research, and iwi partners Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa.

The research can be read in the NZ Journal of Marine and Freshwater Science.

Taura kuku increase mussel numbers tenfold in Ōhiwa Harbour