The Maori: Yesterday and To-day
The Lakes Fisheries
The Lakes Fisheries.
In the Rotorua-Rotoiti district the fish of the lakes were a more important source of food supply than even the food of the land. So say the old men of the Arawa. The inanga (whitebait), toitoi, and koura (crayfish), also the kakahi (shellfish) were taken in very great quantities, and consequently the fisheries were jealously guarded.
The various parts of Rotorua and Rotoiti and other lakes had their names, and the boundaries of the various hapu were carefully defined by leading marks. Every yard of each of these lakes had its owners. In the principal lakes there were hundreds of tau-koura or lines of stakes to which koura nets were fastened, and every important tumu or post had its name. These posts, driven into the bed of the lake, were sometimes carved at the top into the semblance of human heads. Sometimes a rahui or close-season mark, or a post indicative that such a place was tapu, was set up; occasionally these figures had arms attached to make them look like human figures.
The introduction of the pakeha's trout to the lakes resulted in the depletion of these supplies; and in complications with the Maori over the fishing laws. The Native Land Court and the Supreme Court were appealed to to decide the long-standing question of Maori rights under the Treaty of Waitangi. The outcome was the vindication of the Maori cause.