The Rotorua Lakes

The shores of Lake Rotorua were a prominent site of battles between the Maori tribe Te Arawa and early European settlers. The European immigrants sought land from around the Rotorua lakes that was highly prized by Maori as a source of food and where many Maori settlements had developed. In 1922, the Crown advised Te Arawa Maori that because of the recession it was unable to afford a proposed settlement on sharing the lakes as a resource and instead offered to negotiate an annuity for 14 of the lakes, with just one of the lakes remaining vested with its Maori guardians. This annuity remained largely unaltered until 2004 when the Crown offered Te Arawa Maori a settlement that included title of the lake beds, a strategic management role in the lakes, financial and cultural redress, and a formal apology. The period prior to return of the lake beds to Te Arawa Maori has been characterized by environmental degradation of many of the lakes, including introductions of invasive weeds, decimation of native fish by introduced salmonids, and eutrophication.

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