The alpine tarns and lakes located within the Nelson Lakes National Park symbolise for Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō people the intense nature of our relationship with our environment, and the mauri or life force that is contained in all parts of the natural environment and binds the spiritual and physical world.
The tarns and lakes were discovered and named by Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō ancestors.
Rotomairewhenua and Rotopōhueroa were traditionally where bone cleansing ceremonies were carried out by Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō for the bones of their deceased. This ritual reflects the importance of purity of water within the Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō world view.
In Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō tradition, once the bones had been washed, the spirits were released and they would journey from Rotomairewhenua and Rotopōhueroa to Te Tai Tapu (the sacred pathway) to Te One Tahua (Farewell Spit), Te Reinga and ultimately Hawaiki.
It is for this reason that Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō believe that these tarns are so sacred and important.
Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō are currently investigating erecting some type of pou whenua or symbolic land mark to celebrate the tarns importance to the iwi.