I am pleased and humbled to have been elected as the Chair of the Hauraki Gulf Forum for a fourth term last month.
There is much work to be done.
When the Forum was created in 2000 it was tasked with helping understand the state of the Hauraki Gulf/ Tīkapa Moana, the relationships of tangata whenua with it, and the effectiveness of agencies’ management responses.
This responsibility has been largely shouldered by local government. Auckland Council currently provides administrative support and member councils collectively contribute two thirds of the Forum’s secretariat costs.
With a modest budget the Forum has delivered hard-hitting state of the environment reports every three years, piquing public understanding and engagement with the issues they identify.
A healthy and successfully managed Hauraki Gulf Marine Park – we stated in 2012 – will require more regenerating areas, enhanced fisheries, active land management, greater mana whenua engagement and an ecosystem-based approach.
Last year saw the completion of the first marine spatial plan in New Zealand; a three-year iwi and stakeholder-led effort that proposes pathways to unlock economic and ecological potential.
The Sea Change Tai Timu Tai Pari plan offers an ambitious framework around which central government, councils and iwi can reset their engagement with the Gulf.
Implementing it will require new investment and arrangements for integration, strong and improved regulation, and incentives that support adoption of high environmental standards.
At the end of this term it will be 2020, the 20th anniversary of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park legislation.
I will be working to ensure its call to sustain the life-supporting capacity of the Gulf’s environment is deeply embraced across all quarters.