Poupou marine reserve markers unveiled in Fiordland

Department of Conservation —  01/04/2014

By Te Anau Conservation Services Ranger, Chloe Corne

Unique, individually carved poupou marine reserve markers were installed across Fiordland and unveiled in a special ceremony. Read on to discover how it was done…

Each poupou has a unique face and body design.  Carved by Bubba Thompson.

Each poupou has a unique face and body design carved by Bubba Thompson

For the Fiordland Marine Guardians, the unveiling of newly erected poupou marine reserve markers in Charles Sound/Taiporoporo represented an important milestone and was the rewarding culmination of several years’ collaborative planning.

In his address during the unveiling ceremony, Guardians Chairperson Malcolm Lawson, acknowledged the significant effort put forward by the collaboration of the Fiordland Marine Guardians, DOC and local iwi from the Ōraka-Aparima Rūnaka (the mandated Iwi Kaitiaki) on behalf of the wider Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

Karanga perfomed by Rangimarie Suddaby, of the Ōraka-Aparima Rūnaka, during the unveiling ceremony.

Karanga perfomed by Rangimarie Suddaby, of the Ōraka-Aparima Rūnaka, during the unveiling ceremony on board the DOC vessel ‘Southern Winds’

While marine reserves are traditionally marked with white triangles, the poupou project derived from a mutual desire to put in place marine reserve markers more in keeping with the natural and cultural heritage of the fiords.

For Ngāi Tahu, the poupou symbolise enduring kaitiakitanga (guardianship) of Te Moana o Atawhenua (Fiordland).

Poupou at Wet Jacket Arm, Acheron Passage, overlooking the sound,  with Fiordland Bottlenose Dolphins in the background.

Poupou at Wet Jacket Arm, Acheron Passage, overlooking the sound, with Fiordland Bottlenose Dolphins in the background

Poupou cut an impressive figure from the walls of the fiords

Poupou cut an impressive figure from the walls of the fiords

The project—led by Stewart Bull, the Ngāi Tahu representative on the Guardians, and project managed by DOC Senior Ranger Richard Kinsey—commissioned Bubba Thompson, a skilled local carver from the Awarua Rūnanga, to design and carve the poupou.

Each has the same basic shape, but with varying design differences in the face and body.

Designed to be both attractive and functional, they will be named after various ancestors from Kai Tahu Whānui history.

Production and installation of the poupou was jointed funded by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and DOC.

So far, ten poupou have been installed, in sometimes challenging wind and sea conditions.

High winds and steep, slippery rocks make installing some of the poupou difficult. Here Pete Young braces Allan Harms so that he can use the drill, while Ronnie Bull (above) keeps the poupou straight.

High winds and steep, slippery rocks make installing some of the poupou difficult. Here Pete Young braces Allan Harms so that he can use the drill, while Ronnie Bull (above) keeps the poupou straight

Still to be installed are the markers for Te Hapua Marine Reserve in Sutherland Sound and Te Tapuwae o Hua (Long Sound) Marine Reserve.

DOC and the Fiordland Marine Guardians are yet to decide if the markers for the older reserves in Milford and Doubtful Sounds will be changed.

Fourteen new poupou, newly arrived from Bluff.

Fourteen new poupou, newly arrived from Bluff

With the new poupou now in place, marking not only the marine reserves but an important part of New Zealand’s cultural heritage, all of the DOC staff involved are celebrating it as a significant achievement and are looking forward to installing the last few poupou in the remaining reserves.