Terrianna Smith lives three doors down from Ngāti Moki Marae near the shores of Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere). From there she can taste the salty breeze blowing off the Pacific Ocean and watch the native black swans fly to their nesting grounds on the fringes of the lake.
Fourteen years ago Terrianna built a home at “the lake” and moved to Taumutu, the community she grew up with and loved as a child.
“I have always been connected to the lake, it’s my whakapapa. I came home to be at home and that’s what Te Waihora is to me.”
For Terrianna being at home means a life spent working for her people, her community and her lake.
For more than 10 years she has been a member of the Te Waihora Management Board and since 2006 has been the elected chairperson. Today all her time is dedicated to the work of the board.
When she was growing up Te Waihora was in decline, but in relative good health. Today the lake has the unenviable reputation of being one of the most polluted in New Zealand.
“So many people have fought for the lake before me – so much has been achieved, but I will continue to fight to protect and restore it on behalf of my iwi, my whānau and my community.”