Changes at Sea for the Hauraki Gulf
A collective body will "ensure the
Gulf's health and sustainability.
by Des Casey
Things might be on the way up for the
health of the sea in the Hauraki Gulf. A new multi-party project aimed
at better protecting the health and productivity of the Hauraki Gulf (Tikapa
Moana/Te Moananui a Toi) has been launched in Auckland. A two-year
project named Sea Change, involving the development of a Hauraki Gulf
Marine Spatial Plan, is a partnership involving mana whenua and the
statutory agencies of Auckland Council, Waikato Regional Council, the
Hauraki Gulf Forum, the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for
The Sea Change plan, which is to be delivered in 2015, will pin-point
the various problems afflicting the 1.2 million hectare Hauraki Gulf
Marine Park and look to solutions. Emphasis will be a safeguarding of
the Gulf’s cultural, environmental, social and economic values.
Co-chairs of Sea Change’s steering group, Paul Majurey representing mana
whenua, and Penny Webster of Auckland Council report that the partners
are committed to better safeguard the Gulf’s health and its
They state how the Hauraki Gulf “is an
extremely precious taonga, highly valued by all people for a wide range
of cultural, environmental, social and economic reasons. For example, it
is heavily used for recreation and generates more than $2.7 billion in
economic activity each year.” However all is not well in the Gulf. They
go on to say that its health “is deteriorating in a variety of ways due
to various pressures on its use and land use in areas near the coast.
Sea Change, the first project of its kind in New Zealand, will identify
what we need to do to better safeguard its future.”
Waikato Regional Council chairman, Peter
Buckley, acknowledged that their own problems relating to the Gulf are
too big to be working in isolation, and that joint solutions need to be
made. Hauraki Gulf Forum chair, John Tregidga, recognises that both
“issues and opportunities are not being addressed through traditional
policy and planning approaches”.
Sea Change states that it will ensure the
public has a say over the plan’s development, and that this input will
be sought from the middle of next year. In the meantime the partners
will oversee the plan and consider what changes might be necessary to
achieve the central goals of ensuring the Hauraki Gulf’s health and
Big numbers attended two Sea Change forums in Auckland and Thames during
October. These were a mix of different people and groups that included
conservationists, industry groups and members of a variety of
organisations. A next step will be the formation of a Stakeholder
Working Group which will set its sights on Sea Change’s purpose.
Chair of Sea Change’s board, Dr Roger
Blakely, sums up:
“Sea Change ….. will identify what is needed to better safeguard its
(the Gulf’s) future. Ultimately, it’s about securing a healthy,
productive and sustainable resource for all users”.