Ko Ōkere te awa tupua Ōkere our guardian
Ko Ōkere te mauri ora Ōkere our life force
Ko Ōkere te awa tūpuna Ōkere our ancestral river
Ko Ōkere te oranga whānui Ōkere our sustenance
Ko Ōkere te awa honohono i te tangata Kaituna a connector of people
Mai uta ki te tai From the lakes to the sea
For thousands of years water has been carving its way through papatūānuku to create the Ōkere Awa.
For hundreds of years the Ōkere Awa has been a life source, providing sustenance and nurturing lives around it’s catchment.
Like the water that has shaped its features, it has also shaped our lives and provided a pathway for us in a multitude of ways and experiences.
History of Rotorua Ziplines
Rotorua Ziplines was born through an intimate connection with the Ōkere Awa.
It has been created to showcase its mauri (spirit) and importance through Aotearoa (New Zealand) best zipline experience.
It is our responsibility as kaitiaki (guardians) to enhance the natural wonder to ensure that it is protected and uplifted for our future generations.
In 150 years, through your touch we hope that the waters will once again be clean enough to drink and the forests will be deafening from bird song.
This is our purpose, this is our destiny and you are the catalyst of our journey.
WHO ARE WE
who are we
Rotorua Ziplines is a joint venture between Rotorua Rafting and Local iwi.
From the first inception of a Zipline over the Kaituna/Ōkere River, there was the aspiration to work with and alongside manawa whenua for whom this river is a sacred treasure and living ancestry.
For manawhenua (Ngāti Hinerangi/Ngāti Hinekiri, subtribes of Ngati Pikiao) the Kaituna can be likened to that of a parent or provider, and in a symbolic sense the river unites traditional relationships and responsibilities. Ngāti Hinerangi/Hinekiri, are regarded as the kaitiaki or guardians at the top end of the River and including Lake Rotoiti (Te Roto-Whaiti-i-kite-ai-a-Ihenga-i-Ariki-ai-a Kahumatamomoe).
The first 11km/s of the river is known as Okere; in relation to a song that was sung to describe this relationship between Ngāti Hinerangi and Ngati Hinekiri.
Building strong and enduring relationships with tangata whenua will help to influence the long-term sustainable economic well-being of the community we live in, which will include regular and ongoing engagement.
TIKA, PONO and AROHA
The three key element of this relationship are Tika (shared understanding and vision that support each other and that we do things the right way with guidance from Iwi Maori),
Pono (working in partnership and making decisions that are made with integrity),
Aroha (We express empathy, compassion and joy for all those we engage with).
Rotorua Rafting owner, Sam Sutton had previously been engaging with local iwi members prior to the inception of the zipline and through this wanted to see iwi develop and be partners commercially, as such Okere Adventures was established.
Okere Adventures is a Joint Venture between Okere Inc Maori Land Trust, Sam Sutton and Fred Whata.
The Ōkere Awa is our life source and it is our mission to enrich the biodiversity of this ecosystem.
How are we doing this?
Not only is it important for the immediate ecosystem of the Ōkere Awa, but for the global ecosystem to ensure our emissions are outweighed by our carbon. This suggests that Rotorua Ziplines immediate mission is to increase our indigenous forest by 6ha, which would sequester 26000 Tonnes of CO2 which is the equivalent of 3250 households worth of CO2.
Reforestation is more than offsetting CO2, it is protecting the waterways, before we arrived exotic weeds were dominating natural reforestation and leaking nitrogen into our awa.
Our first mission was to remove Gorse and other invasive weeds to reduce this nitrogen leaking and fast track our reforestation process.
As we journey deeper into our mission, the ecosystems reliance on all parts has become more clear. The fragile hinges on which Aotearoa's indigenous flora and fauna hangs require our immediate actions to ensure their place in our world.
As we established our infrastructure it became apparent that our forest was in dire need of help. 150 year old natives trees were falling down due to the impacts of introduced species like the possum.
Bird life had become sparse from introduced predators and our efforts had to be broadened to keep our towering trees standing tall and proud.
Building the zipline
HOW WE BUILT THE ZIP
We believe our course is one of the most challenging zipline builds undertaken.
This is not because of the scale of our course nor the complexity of our systems but due to our care for the Okere Awa and its surrounds.
When you are building a zipline on bare land it is as simple as walking the line from one end to the other and anchoring it to the ground.
It’s easy to see where you are going, there are no objects in your path, so long as you have a relative gradient you will be flying in no time.
With our course many of the lines have no line of sight, our mission to have a minimalist footprint has been deeply thought through.
And the wires
Using a drone, a fishing rod and a hook was how we got the job done. This enabled us to fly through branches to reduce any trimming. It provided the ability for us to weave our way through the canopy.
To anchor our lines we needed something that would have a micro footprint that could be flexible around the root systems. Our anchors are only 65mm in diameter but 6m deep. This method meant the use of no machinery further reducing our footprint on our surrounding
It was vital for us to transport our manuhiri through our experience with the ability to leave no trace. Using ground screws we were able to build elevated boardwalks that could sit above and around any root systems. We used untreated treads to reduce any leaching of chemicals into the environment. We chose the path of less resistance and transplanted any vegetation within the corridor.
THE MAUNGA (Mountain)
At height we feel free, we feel empowered and in control. It was a must for us to get you our manuhiri atop of this mountain to ensure your connection with Okere Falls. But how could we do this in a fun and sustainable manor?
We stumbled upon some used farm 4x4 side by sides that no longer went. We also were caught up in the EV sustainability debate around the short life span of the battery. So, we found a Nissan Leaf crashed and ready to be scrapped. We stripped the motors and with some Okere Falls/ Mourea ingenuity we up-cycled the Nissan Leaf and Yamaha Viking into the world's first 6 seater electric off road machine.