It’s not been plain sailing over summer with water quality causing headaches for surf lifesavers across the city. Auckland Council’s new SafeSwim monitoring network, is much more accurate than the old monitoring system. With some beaches unsafe for swimming for days on end, this saw many surf lifesaving events cancelled.
Surf lifesavers monitor the events, but were refusing to oversee any at beaches deemed unsafe for swimming. Organisers are now concerned these types of events will no longer be viable and put ocean swimming off the cards for many.
They were saved from starvation and fell in love while they recovered in captivity on Waiheke Island. But there was an emotional dilemma for the little blue penguins at the heart of this love story when one was ready to be released but the other wasn’t.
A Whangarei couple got the surprise of their lives when a kiwi popped in for a visit. The young bird, raised on Motuora Is and recently released in the area, wandered into their Maunu home and decided to have a look around. With the Pukenui Forest 500 metres away the little wanderer had to cross a busy road to reach its preferred digs.
Young kiwi have been returned to the wild on the Thames coast at Te Mata. The 19 youngsters were taken from the area, while still in their eggs, to be hatched in the safety of Auckland Zoo. They grew up on Rotoroa Is until heavy enough to fend off predators before being returned to their original wilderness home.
A study on the cause of death of hundreds of thousands of cockles in the Long Bay Okura Marine Reserve has found they are environmentally stressed rather than diseased.
Though not conclusive on any one cause, struggling with sediment issues is a possibility the MPI report found on a major die-back that occurred at the reserve in March. Advocates for the reserve have long maintained sediment from large scale development earthworks, backing onto the reserve, are having a serious affect on the health of the reserve.
Auckland Council’s new Safeswim initiative is receiving plenty of attention as Aucklanders get used to receiving real time information on the state of their local beaches.
An iconic Auckland ocean swim is moving locations for the first time in 14 years due to frequent “red readings” at beaches on the city’s North Shore. Organisers of the “King of the Bays” event have moved the swimming races from Milford beach to Devonport.
Spinoff recently created a “cheatsheet” to explain what the new system means.
Meanwhile, the Waikato Regional Council has re-activated a water quality monitoring programme at seven east coast and two west coast beaches, testing to see whether faecal bacterial levels are within suitable levels for contact recreation, such as swimming and surfing.
An Eastern Bays Songbird Project has been established to restore natural ecosystems in Glendowie, St Heliers, Kohimarama, Mission Bay and Orakei and create a sanctuary alive with birds. The project aims to contribute significantly to Pest Free Auckland 2050 and Predator Free NZ 2050. Read more here.
Motutapu re-opened to the public on Labour Weekend, seven months after Cyclone Debbie damaged roads and tracks. The Rotary Centennial Loop Track has been repaired, helped by the Rotary Club of Newmarket and Dole NZ, and the campground at Home Bay is open but numbers are restricted due to damage.
On the 15th of July 32 people volunteered their Saturday to pull up weeds on Motukorea (Browns Island). Accompanied by Auckland Council rangers the group made a strong start on removing weeds which had risen from the ashes after a fire devastated much of the island in November 2016. In the short time since the grass was burnt a wide variety of weeds have grown on the crater slopes, including apple of sodom, moth plant, wooly nightshade, mullein, bone seed and rhamnus. More than 6,000 weeds were removed but there is still much more work to do. John Laurence, chairman of the neighbouring Motuihe Island Trust, says the island is a stepping stone for weeds to travel further into the Gulf. Volunteers, including Cr Mike Lee, were ferried to the island by members of the Outboard Boating Club.
Auckland is one of the weediest cities in the world, with exotic species outnumbering our native plants. However a native bracken has also benefited from the fire and established in the crater. The bracken will provide better habitat for the rare reptiles that inhabit the island including the moko skink.
A Waikato Regional Council scholarship has been awarded to Taylor Auld from Thames to assist in completing a Bachelor of Civil Engineering at Canterbury University.
Taylor received a number of academic awards at Thames High School and was involved in coastal clean-up initiatives through Scouts.
The $6,000 award is made annually through the council’s Waihou Piako catchment committee to support undergraduate study in the fields of engineering or resource management, particularly river and catchment management.
Storm-damaged Motutapu Island’s restoration project has received fresh funding from global fruit provider Dole.
Motutapu Restoration Trust General Manager Liz Brooks said the funding would enable the trust to further develop habitats to achieve its long-term goal of creating sustainable populations of takahē, Coromandel brown kiwi, tieke/saddlebacks and other threatened species.
Dole NZ General Manager Steve Barton said the company’s investment would provide stability and flexibility for restoration efforts
Motutapu has been closed to the public since roads, tracks and more than 5000 trees were damaged by Cyclone Debbie.
Volunteers have continued the planting programme with the island due to re-open to the public on Labour Weekend.
The Rangitoto Island Historic Conservation Trust held its AGM this month. The trust was formed in 1997 to conserve and interpret the historic bach communities on Rangitoto Island for the benefit of all New Zealanders.
The bach communities were built in the 1920s and 30s, consisting of private holiday dwellings and boatsheds as well as communal facilities such as paths, swimming pool, community hall and tennis courts. Built by families, using the scarce resources of the Depression era, the buildings demonstrate the ‘kiwi’ do-it-yourself, jack-of-all-trades attitudes of the times.
The trust has restored Bach 38 as a museum near Rangitoto Wharf, which is open by appointment. A short video on the history of the baches and their restoration is available at on Youtube The trust’s annual newsletter Rangitoto Rambling here.
A classic 1960s book Islands of the Gulf has been reprinted. In the early Sixties Shirley Maddock joined seaplane pilot Captain Fred Ladd to visit isolated island communities, filming New Zealand’s first locally produced documentary series and spawning a book of the same name.
The new 2017 edition has been published to coincide with a remake of Islands of the Gulf, to screen on TV One later this year with Shirley Maddock’s daughter, actress and writer, Elisabeth Easther.
Auckland Council has approved an upgrade of its Safeswim beach water quality monitoring programme. From next summer it will enable accurate forecasting of which of Auckland’s 69 bathing beaches might be unsafe, and when.
The programme upgrade will provide new tools to communicate monitoring results, giving better visibility of water quality issues. Mayor Phil Goff has said the public may be shocked when they see the figures on faecal contamination but “there are solutions.”
Auckland Council has received an update on the integration of the Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari Marine Spatial Plan into the Auckland Council group work programme and established a political steering group to oversee it.
The plan, produced through a three-year collaborative process, is a non-statutory document which aims to ensure the Hauraki Gulf is vibrant with life, its mauri strong, productive and supports healthy and prosperous communities.
The fourth round of the Department of Conservation’s multi-million-dollar fund to support community conservation projects has opened for applications.
The fund had supported over 300 different projects to date, with around $4.15 million to be allocated this year. “The DOC Community Fund encourages everyday New Zealanders to take ownership and lend a hand to important projects that matter to their communities,” Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says.
Expressions of interest are required by 23 June 2017, with successful applicants to be invited to submit a full application.
Last year funded projects included weed control on Motuihe Island (Motuihe Trust), Motuora Island (Motuora Restoration Society) and Te Matuku Bay on Waiheke (Te Matuku Bay Landcare Group), rat and cat control in the Windy Hill Sanctuary on Great Barrier (Windy Hill Rosalie Bay Catchment Trust), translocation of Coromandel brown kiwi to Motutapu (Motutapu Restoration Trust), wilding pine control at Te Karo Bay, eastern Coromandel (Tairua Environment Society) and kiwi recovery work on the Kuaotunu Peninsula, eastern Coromandel (Project Kiwi Trust).
Great Barrier Island has applied to the Arizona-based International Dark-Sky Association to be declared an International Dark Sky Sanctuary, capitalising on its lack of light pollution and brilliant starry nights. A Dark Sky Sanctuary must have an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment, and is protected for its scientific, natural, or educational value, its cultural heritage and/or public enjoyment.
A study by the University of Waikato Institute for Business Research has found that QEII National Trust covenanting landowners are together spending an estimated $25 million of their own money every year to protect native species, forests, wetlands, and other special areas in their QEII covenants.
These landowners, the majority of which are farmers, have made an overall financial commitment of around $1.1 to $1.3 billion to protect these special areas of private and leased land since the QEII National Trust was set up forty years ago.
Waterway protection (20%), restoration planting (19%), wetland restoration (18%), weed control (15%), pest control (7%) and fence maintenance (7%) are the major contributors to total maintenance costs for QEII covenants.
More Coromandel brown kiwi will be introduced to Motutapu Island, thanks to funding in the latest round of the Department of Conservation Community Fund.
A $28,526 grant will allow the transfer at least 16 more Coromandel brown kiwi to the island to establish a genetically viable population of 40 to 50 birds. The project has translocated 24 birds to date.
Nine Auckland community-led conservation projects received funding, including for a new iwi ranger on Motuora Island and restoration work at Whenua Rangatira, New Zealand’s first co-governed public park created under the Orakei Act.
A Hauraki Gulf / Tikapa Moana marine spatial plan launched in December after three years work by a stakeholder working group is available on the Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari project website.
The proposed plan contains five pathways designed to create long-term health and wellbeing for the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. Transitions to high value wild caught and farmed fisheries, the creation of marine reserves areas and scaled up restoration initiatives, setting load limits and mitigation for sediment and nutrients, local-scale coastal management and ambitious public engagement are outlined in the December issue of the Gulf Journal.
A new coffee table book on the ecological history of the Hauraki Gulf was launched this month charting its discovery, transformation and potential for restoration.
Author Raewyn Peart travelled widely through the marine park interviewing over sixty people – iwi leaders, those making a living from the Gulf, sailors, fishers and divers, and environmentalists who are all working to preserve and restore its heritage.
Great Barrier Island’s Windy Hill Sanctuary area has grown by 150 hectares thanks to the addition of private, family-owned land above Mulberry Grove.
Intense predator control across a total of 770 hectares will create an east to west coast corridor for birds and other threatened species.
Sanctuary trust manager Judy Gilbert said new pest management methods and equipment are enabling greater areas to be managed with the same level of resource. The sanctuary has trapped over 3500 rats per annum in recent years, benefiting birds, lizards, weta fruit and berries.
The new online resource runs to over 50 pages, defining activities, types of projects, current resources, monitoring toolkits and guidelines, new tools, and learning opportunities. The trust has also created a Facebook page to support citizen science practitioners.
A unique multi-sector collaborative group has recently finalised a proposed plan change for the Waikato and Waipa rivers.
The project aims to take the two rivers on the first stage of an 80-year journey towards being safe for swimming and food gathering, as is required by the legally binding Crown-iwi Te Ture Whaimana o Te Awa o Waikato (Vision and Strategy for the rivers).
Scanning the content of this issue it is striking how many collaborative and co-governance processes are coming to fruition or being initiated.
The Department of Conservation has just released a draft Conservation Management Plan for Te Hauturu-ō-Toi/Little Barrier Island Nature Reserve created alongside Ngāti Manuhiri.
The Snapper 1 Strategy Group has agreed measures to rebuild the region’s snapper stock to a biomass target of 40% of the unfished state by 2040, while in the neighbouring Waikato and Waipa catchment a Collaborative Stakeholder Group has drafted a plan to make the rivers safe for swimming and food gathering in 80 years.
These are wickedly difficult challenges and the commitment and innovation required to resolve them is not easy.
The Stakeholder Working Group created three years ago to address challenges facing the Gulf will present its Sea Change Tai Timu Tai Pari marine spatial plan to sponsoring agencies shortly, before a public launch later in the year.
The Government has announced new challenges in the form of a public-private partnership to make New Zealand predator free by 2050 and a new Biodiversity Forum has been tasked with improving native biodiversity on private land.
On one hand it is easy to point out the challenges we face. The Forum has done that very effectively through its triennial State of our Gulf assessments. With the other it is harder to bind people into generating an adequately scaled and effective response.
But this is what we must do if we are to succeed in our role of protecting and enhancing the Gulf environment.
Our seminar this year Do the Right Thing looks to tease out the many strands required on that journey.
It is great to see the philanthropic sector coming on board to support the step changes that will be necessary.
Foundation North’s Gulf Innovation Fund Together (GIFT) will provide $1 million for the next five years to incentivise new ideas and prototypes. The Nature Conservancy will share its knowledge of ecological restoration and resource mobilisation with projects here, while the Tindall Foundation and the Next Foundation are already big and strategic players in the Gulf.
The next term of the Forum will be an exciting one as it looks to build on success and strengthen its leadership for changing times.
Three young tōtara and six pohutukawa were planted in a dawn ceremony on the tihi of Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill in June. It marked an historic moment for mana whenua following the return of Maungakiekie to them in the landmark Ngā Mana Whenua ō Tāmaki Makaurau Collective Redress Act.
The birdsong of the native North Island robin or toutouwai will once again fill Shakespear Open Sanctuary following the release of the first pairs in April.
Shakespear Open Sanctuary has been pest-free for almost five years through work by Auckland Council park rangers and biodiversity staff and volunteers from Shakespear Open Sanctuary Society Inc. The translocation of 20 birds from the Mangatutu (King Country) was led by Parker Conservation and Massey University and funded by the Royal Society of New Zealand.
Three of the North Island’s rarest kiwi caught a waka to their new home in the Hauraki Gulf in April.
The adolescent birds were released into the predator-free environment of Motutapu Island as part of an effort by several conservation groups to save the Coromandel brown kiwi.
The three kiwi, two female and one male, were found as eggs in Thames, taken to Auckland Zoo for incubation and then raised on Rotorua Island.
Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki chair James Brown said the journey was symbolic and signified traditional protocols and rituals.
They joined 22 other kiwi released on the island. Shore plovers and patake have also been released on Motutapu in recent months.
Te Whangai Trust was the Supreme Winner at the 2016 Green Ribbon Awards in June.
The Waikato-based trust has contributed to restoration projects bordering the Gulf, including recent development of catchment management plans for the Mangatarata-Miranda-Kaiaua Community Care Group. The Trust develops life skills and future employment prospects while helping community partners to restore ecosystems, wildlife corridors and waterways.
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry said “Te Whangai Trust’s community biodiversity project has changed people’s lives and made huge environmental strides in the Waikato. It’s all about teaching people skills while caring for the natural environment.”
Watercare Harbour Clean-Up Trust and volunteers from Spark collected 5000 litres of litter within an hour from a 100 metre stretch of the Tamaki River in April. The most common items were bottles, plastic bags and polystyrene but included tyres, furniture, clothing, kids’ toys, and even a TV.
Watercare Harbour Clean-Up Trust contractors Hayden Smith and Ben Harris said that while the amount of rubbish was slightly higher than normal, types were typical of what is regularly collected around East Tamaki. Smith says the majority of rubbish is improperly disposed of on streets, then ends up in drains, the stormwater network and is moved by rain, wind and tides.
31 million litres of rubbish have been removed from Auckland harbours since the trust was launched in 2002.
All seabirds are precious taonga to Ngati Rehua-Ngatiwai ki Aotea people and even more so the tāiko who breed exclusively on our sacred maunga Hirakimata and Hauturu-a-toi. We want to ensure that the last remaining colonies of tāiko are protected to ensure they remain part of our natural heritage and legacy for all future generations of New Zealanders.
The inaugural Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival was hosted on Auckland Anniversary weekend in January, reviving a 150 year old tradition.
The programme included competitive inter-tribal races and opportunities for the public to paddle a waka and learn about their cultural significance.
Orakei Water Sports president and Hauraki Gulf Forum member Moana Tamaariki-Pohe said the gathering of waka ama, waka tangata, waka taua and waka hourua represented a dream come true for her father, Ngati Whatua kaumatua Tamaiti Tamaariki.
A new video explaining the Revive our Gulf project’s work to restore mussel reefs is a popular hit with schools and youtube viewers.
The video was directed by designer Shaun Lee, presented by biologist Rebecca Barclay and funded by Auckland Council’s Environmental Initiatives Fund. It has been posted on the Science Learning Hub and currently features on its home page.
A Māori leader, a marine reserve scientist and family owners of an island are winners of this year’s Holdaway Awards.
Richelle Kahui-McConnell (Ngāti Maniapoto) has worked closely with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, leading practical restoration work at Okāhu Bay, encouraging youth involvement in conservation, and incorporating mātauranga Maori perspectives into policy development processes.
Dr Nick Shears from the University of Auckland has carried out internationally renowned research on marine reserves that has been crucial in understanding the ecological effects of fishing on inshore reefs and how these can be reversed with marine protection.
Rod and Sue Neureuter accepted an award on behalf of their family, who have owned the Noises since 1933, supporting the first successful island rat eradication in New Zealand 50 years ago as well as many restoration initiatives on the islands.
The Hauraki Gulf Forum-initiated awards recognise emerging leadership and were announced at the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Seminar in October.
Auckland Council will be working with communities of the Gulf to create a Hauraki Gulf Islands Waste Plan in the first half of 2016, focusing on Great Barrier, Waiheke, Rakino and Kawau and on managing waste from boats and fishing. Programme manager Jenny Chilcott says each island community is unique and the aim will be to work with local communities to develop creative, sustainable solutions that support local interests.
There are over 7,000 households in the Gulf and on Great Barrier alone around 500 tonnes of refuse and inorganic waste is produced each year. Key issues include how to minimise waste coming on to Gulf islands, handling visitors, addressing fishing and boating waste and maximising local recycling and reusing of materials.
The plan will be guided by the Waste Management and Minimisation Plan adopted by Auckland Council in 2012 and Waiheke, Great Barrier and Rodney Local Boards will be closely involved.
Two surveys have been completed on Waiheke to gauge residents and ratepayers’ attitudes to marine protection.
Market research company Colmar Brunton undertook a questionnaire and views were sought through Auckland Council’s shapeauckland.co.nz website.
Chairman Paul Walden said the Waiheke Local Board would receive and consider the results in July or August. “The board is advocating for a network of marine protected areas that link the islands of its area. The survey seeks to identify principles through which our community will support marine protected areas and reserves. We want to get beyond divisive debate and have a conversation about a space that we can all agree on.”
The Revive our Gulf charitable trust, formed to trial the restoration of subtidal mussel reefs in the Hauraki Gulf, was a finalist in this year’s Green Ribbon Awards, run jointly by the Department of Conservation and Ministry for the Environment.
Revive our Gulf’s latest newsletter notes juvenile mussels have been found growing in the first reef it created in December 2013 following the deposition of seven tonnes of live adult mussels off eastern Waiheke Island. The 35mm size suggests the recruits would have settled into the beds since establishment rather than having been transported with the original mussels.
The results of a Waiheke Marine Protection Survey have been released by the local board.
It shows support for a network of marine protected areas across a substantial proportion of the marine environment around the inner Hauraki Gulf islands. The survey was undertaken by Colmar Brunton, with around 2000 questionnaires returned.
Responses regarding location were relatively spread out with no one specific area in the local board area receiving high or low levels of support as a marine reserve.
“The survey will assist our community to move forward and consider how to best address marine protection,” said Waiheke Local Board Chair Paul Walden.