Fisher, K., & Vallance, S. (2010). Food gathering practices at the Avon-Heathcote Estuary Ihutai Canterbury Aotearoa/New Zealand. Lincoln University.
This report was prepared in 2010 for Environment Canterbury, the Avon-Heathcote Estuary Ihutai Trust and the Tertiary Education Commission as part of Lincoln University’s summer scholarship programme. As part of a larger project on Ōtautahi Christchurch residents’ awareness and use of the Ihutai estuary, the purpose of this project was to explore current seafood gathering practices in the estuary. It sought to identify the types of seafood being collected and where seafood collection was occurring, to investigate seafood gatherers’ awareness of collection regulations and health concerns associated with consuming estuary seafood, and to explore qualitative and experiential dimensions of seafood gathering.
Overall, the report found that despite substantial degradation of the Ihutai estuary from sewage treatment works and run-off, seafood collection was an important traditional practice that continued into the present. Most residents saw the estuary as polluted and considered the shellfish unsafe to eat, however, improvements were still needed to better communicate tide and food safety.
Notably, seafood collection was identified as a way for people to gain knowledge and respect for the estuary. Restoration actions by the Estuary Trust and Tangata Whenua, alongside the construction of an ocean outfall was identified as likely to positively affect people’s perceptions of local mahinga kai opportunities. The report concluded that if carefully managed to protect estuary biodiversity, food gathering practices could drive attachment to an area of immense cultural, social and ecological value.