It's National Volunteer Week and the minister for the sector, Peeni Henare, says volunteers need to be acknowledged as the 'hearts of our communities'.

Patau Te Pania from the Far North falls into that category.

The respected kaumātua gives his time and energy freely to protecting the environment. 

For years, Te Pania has enforced a rāhui on harvesting pāua so the precious delicacy has a chance to recover.

In 2009 a rāhui was imposed between Shipwreck Bay and Tauroa (Reef Point) just on the outskirts of Ahipara, to protect rapidly depleting pāua beds from over-exploitation.

Patau says the situation is getting serious.

"Today, it's quite devastating the amount of numbers getting taken out of the area and I feel there's actually going to be no come back if nothing really gets done seriously." 

Patau adds he's also concerned about the ignorant types that are still diving in rāhui waters.

"I've just watched people go in, out, in and out all day every day. And it's pretty sad to see the area getting how it is now because people have no consideration but for themselves really."

The rāhui will be ongoing in the hope that these resources regenerate for the next generation.

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