Stunning rock pools face closure due to tourist damage

The Mermaid Pools could be temporarily closed by a local hapū over environmental concerns. Photo: Supplied via NZ Herald
The Mermaid Pools could be temporarily closed by a local hapū over environmental concerns. Photo: Supplied via NZ Herald

One of Northland's most popular tourist spots, the Mermaid Pools near Matapouri, could be temporarily closed by a local hapū over environmental concerns.

The picturesque, turquoise tidal rock pools are enormously popular, drawing in tourists and locals alike.

But hapū Te Whanau ā Rangiwhakaahu is concerned about the degrading environmental, cultural and spiritual wellbeing of the taonga, known as Te Wai o Te Taniwha.

The hapū said in a statement that it intended to place a rāhui over the pools, and the access route over the Rangitapu headland at Matapouri Bay, to restore "the mauri of the taonga".

They would work with key groups and agencies to develop a plan to manage and protect the environmental, cultural and spiritual wellbeing of Te Wai o Te Taniwha, and protect the wāhi tapu upon the Rangitapu headland.

The announcement has been met with mostly supportive, albeit sad, reactions on social media.

One longtime visitor said the pools had become a "sewer".

"I used to catch snapper in the mermaid pools in the 90s when I lived at Matapouri and the sea life in this pool was plentiful. Now it's like a sewer, with urine and toxic sunscreen destroying its beauty. Let's all respect the rāhui in place."

Another person said it had lost its beauty with the number of people going there.

"It was beautiful the first time I went there, but the last time we went it was a very different place. The water murky, a feeling of a public pool, noisy with a heck of a lot of people. It didn't feel respected or look like it was treated as something special by anyone who was there."

Several community groups had already been raising awareness about the plight of the pools, including Kapa Kaitiaki and Te Wairua o Te Moananui - Ocean Spirit.

"We are grateful for the ongoing support offered by our community, community leaders, councillors, iwi and government agencies," the hapū said.

"Te Whanau ā Rangiwhakaahu Hapū Trust will host a public meeting on our marae with an open invitation to all who have a connection to Te Wai o Te Taniwha to ensure that this intrinsic part of our cultural, spiritual and ecological heritage is protected mō tatou, a, mō ngā uri ā muri ake nei – that is, for ourselves and for our children after us."


So how many more "culturally sensitive" places will local Maori close to all but themselves? Or will admission soon be charged to pay for facilities and to protect the amenity of the place.

Mount Cook is sacred, lake Wakatipu is sacred, but I suppose you couldn't close them because Maori and all the rest make too much money from those places.
Rotorua as a whole is sacred and local tribes and government are doing their best to ensure only Maori make money there.

Sadly for NZ tourism, it is mainly all about money.

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