The ra’ui system is the traditional method of conservation and preservation of any or all resources whether on land, sea or air. This customary management tool was revived by the Koutu Nui (Traditional leaders) on 8th February, 1998 under the direction of the then President Te Tika Mataiapo Dorice Reid. The marine resources were perceived to be under threat from over-harvesting and the intention of the ra’ui was to allow marine species to rejuvenate. This ancient methodology of the ra’ui ensures the sustainability of fish stock or any resource that are disappearing or in low supply.
The Local Government and the Government wanted to take the ra’ui system into parliament to enact it into law but the Koutu Nui wanted it under their auspices, because the co-operation and adherence to the restrictions would be respected by the community. The success of the ra’ui system heavily relies on the co-operation of the community at large, as it has no legislative powers.
In February 1998, the Koutu Nui selected the four initial ra’ui areas, Aroko, Tikioki, Pouara and Nikao. In May 2000 the Aroa ra’ui area was included (Raumea et al 2000). Since that time, more Ra’ui areas have been commissioned with varying degrees of restrictions, length of time and specific protected species (eg. Trochus).
Since the inception of the ra’ui, the Ministry of Marine Resources has been involved in monitoring, providing technical support and gathering information. These surveys are recognized as being a good indicator of changes in invertebrate species on the reef and lagoon. Surveys of these resources are established, and now form the basis of the ra’ui monitoring programme.
Purpose of Surveys
The purpose of the monitoring programme (survey) is to survey the resources in the designated ra’ui areas to see if the reef resources have rejuvenated or increased/decreased in numbers and to compare recent results against previous survey results. Past assessments include the initial baseline survey (Ponia & Raumea 1998), and monitoring surveys (Ponia et al 1998, Raumea et al 2000, Raumea et al 2001 & Saywood et al 2002), the 2004 analysed data and the 2005 survey.
In supporting the ra’ui initiative, the Ministry of Marine Resources anticipates that the series of monitoring surveys will help determine the impact the ra’ui is having in restoring the ecosystem. It will assist the Koutu Nui with facts for decision-making and provide information to create more awareness of the importance of compliance to the ra’ui system.