Local iwi impose rahui in the Auckland's Waitakere Ranges

Local iwi have imposed a rahui - a total ban - on entering Auckland's Waitakere Ranges because of kauri dieback. But what does a rahui mean?

Maori expert, Professor Pou Temara says: "It's a custom that bans the use of, that restricts certain areas so that area can be conserved."

"Rahui is also imposed from when there is contamination by association with death."

Traditionally there were consequences for disobeying rahui.

Mr Temara says: "The worst that could happen was that people would die from transgressing that kind of tapu".

Such penalties do not exist today, but the challenge is getting the public to understand and respect the significance of rahui.

The Auckland Council have opted for a partial rahui for the Waitakeres, saying that a total ban would be too difficult to enforce.

Mr Temara says Maori concepts are often difficult for non-Maori to accept because they don't understand the reverence Maori have for the trees.

According to the Māori worldview, people and the environment co-exist.

"When you see a kauri immediately you recognise the mana, you recognise tapu. It's so different from all the other big trees."

"Maori actually see Tane - the lord of the forest embued in the personage of the kauri and I talk about personage because Maori think of the kauri as a living person."

Wayne Mackenzie who manages Whatipu Lodge has refused to take bookings that would break the rahui.

"For me it's really important just to be respectful for the rahui and not walk in this forest until safe protocols are really put in place."

Rewi Spraggon of local iwi says "For us that's a living ancestor - as simple as that - It's a living ancestor and we have to protect them as much as they protect us."

Seven Sharp's Maiki Sherman investigates. Source: Seven Sharp



Animal instincts run wild at Wellington Zoo's adults only event

Wellington Zoo's adults only event for Valentine's Day is being celebrated as a roaring success with more people turning up to learn how animals gets intimate than ever before.

Wellington Zoo spokesperson Zel Lazarevich said while night was fun for the hundreds of lovers that turned up, it was also an opportunity for the staff to share conservation messages of what the public can do to help.

Guests heard love-themed talks about the zoo's star attractions, finding out every relationship is very unique in the animal kingdom too.

Herbivore team leader Bobby Stoop said the zoo's most eligible bachelor, Pepe the capybara, had found out that hard way that being eager won't get you far.

"We have three females and one male so they're a lot bigger than he is - he needs to play it safe," he said.

As for the sumatran tigers, getting together could take months or even years.

Bashii and Senja are kept in separate areas for their own safety but things are looking promising.

In a bid from staff to get the pair accustomed, Senja left her scent in Bashii's enclosure which he later showed interest in.

Forget the candle-lit dinner and half-price chocolates, Wellingtonians get their love tips from the animal kingdom. Source: 1 NEWS

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Sheep farming success in the Mackenzie Country entering uncharted territory

Farming sheep in the Mackenzie Country is certainly nothing new but its success is entering uncharted territory.

Every February, buyers stream into the high country to load up on lambs - this year with record numbers.

Legend has it Scotsman, James Mackenzie, stole a thousand sheep 160 something years ago - and that's where the region got its name from.

And while in the past buyers have come to Mackenzie looking for a steal, this year has been a very different story.

"It's the first time in probably 20 years actually the farmers are finally being rewarded for their sheep, those people have persevered and stuck with it," auctioneer Joe Higgins says.

"There's been a lot of people getting out of it over the past 20 years and the diehards have stuck with it and they're being rewarded for it."

Diehards like Alistair Munro, who helped start this annual auction 24 years ago. It's grown steadily ever since.

"Well I'm 70 years old and I was born here. There's twelve vendors over nine properties," Mr Munro says.

Joe Higgins welcomes 22,000 lambs, stopping at each farm, and auctioneers lots of lambs to a convoy of buyers.

"It could be the biggest in the South Island - I'm not saying it is I don't know. It's certainly the biggest one we have here," he says.

"And we look forward to it every year, it's quite an occasion for us."

It is for farmers too, because on this day they'll make up 90 per cent of their yearly income.

"Like I'd say just this last place here these lambs in front of us, two years ago we'd have been selling them for half that price," one farmer says.

"So they've doubled their income and every place has been the same."

But just as lamb and mint sauce go together, so too does caution and optimism among the farmers.

"In the past what's happened with the sheep industry is we've seen high prices come, 12 months later they've gone back down,"

"As long as they can make enough money to pay the bills and do it again next year. You know there's not many people that would swap places with that."

Lamb buyers have turned out in record numbers this year. Source: Seven Sharp