State of our Gulf 2023


10 August 2023

Hauraki Gulf Marine Park under sustained assault, will long over-due protection and restoration be delivered?

Hauraki Gulf Forum Co-Chairs Nicola MacDonald and Toby Adams will tomorrow publicly unveil the 2023 State of the Gulf report, produced for the forum by Coast & Catchment Ltd.

“The Hauraki Gulf continues to be pummeled by our actions on land and at sea, plus the spread of new invasive species and increasing impacts from climate change,” says Forum Co-Chair Toby Adams.

“This report paints a grim picture of the current health of the 14,000sq. km blue backyard of the Auckland and Waikato regions – home to around 2 million people.”

“Seabirds struggling to feed their young, the near loss of our last scallop beds, uncontrolled kina devouring our kelp, and the rise in milky-flesh snapper are just some of the stories that have emerged over the past three years since the last report in 2020, pointing to continued ecological collapse,” he says.

“But there are also stories of hope,” says Forum Tangata Whenua Co-Chair Nicola MacDonald.

“Stories of the actions taken by mana whenua and communities to stand up for the Gulf, to lay rāhui and power restoration efforts. The planting of waterways, and investment in stormwater networks. In addition, the important announcement by the government earlier this week of (i) a bespoke fisheries plan for the Gulf, and (ii) a promise to introduce legislation for a long-overdue set of new marine and seafloor protection areas that will lay a foundation for the Gulf’s recovery.”

“Furthermore, for the first time in over 100 years, the Gulf is finally free from the most destructive form of fishing – scallop dredging – after a Gulf-wide temporary closure by the Minister for Oceans & Fisheries. That needs to become permanent.

“However, the Gulf is never static,” says Co-Chair Toby Adams, “and climate change has now well and truly arrived. The ‘one in 20 year’ Cyclone Hale was followed up not much more than 20 days later by Cyclone Gabrielle. Increasing climate change impacts will result in rapid and far-reaching changes to the Gulf.

“The best defence we have is a restored Gulf, a protected Gulf, and a biodiverse Gulf. The Hauraki Gulf Forum is committed to that better future.

“Our recently released natural capital valuation showed that the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, even its current poor health, is worth over $100 billion to this country as a natural capital asset. This is too big to let fail. We must do everything we can to protect and restore this taonga.”

The report is available here: