By . Image credit Dapixara photography. 2019 march

The Sustainable Business Network (SBN) has formed a new partnership with Foundation North’s Gulf Innovation Fund Together (G.I.F.T.) to unite the region’s business people to restore the mauri, the life-giving essence of Hauraki Gulf (Tīkapa Moana or Te Moana-nui-ā-Toi).

GulfX will harness the power of SBN’s network – more than 500 members – and bring together major areas of SBN’s nationwide work, applying valuable learnings to the Gulf and its catchment area.

GulfX has three core goals, which involve working with businesses to:

  • Reduce marine plastic pollution. This will be done by promoting the installation of litter traps to filter plastic waste out of storm water drains that run to the sea, and a programme to reduce and redesign plastic packaging, to begin to tackle plastic pollution at source.
  • Cut transport pollution through promoting copper-free brake pads to cut down on heavy metals in storm water polluting the Gulf, and also supporting initiatives that help speed up Auckland’s transition to an efficient zero carbon transport system.
  • Boost the restoration of waterways in the Hauraki Gulf catchment through the acceleration of SBN’s established Million Metres Streams project, planting native plants and trees along the banks of rivers, streams and lakes.

Through GulfX in the Auckland region, SBN will be looking to the mauri or life force of Tīkapa Moana/The Hauraki Gulf as the measure of success.

The saying ‘Ko au te wai, ko te wai ko au/I am the water and the water is me’, is, thankfully, now familiar to many New Zealanders. When the water is healthy, we are healthy. But, equally, when the water is unhealthy, it is because we are unhealthy. When the water’s mauri, or life-giving essence, is degraded, it is a reflection of a deficit in us.

SBN have taken this as the inspiration behind GulfX. What does the current state of the Hauraki Gulf tell us about ourselves? If the Gulf is us, then while things might look good on the surface our well-being is not adequately protected by law. The many organisms that make us up are badly depleted. Our life supporting channels are clogged with waste and contamination. If we pause for a moment, we can feel it.

SBN know that continuing to ‘symptom swat’, like we sometimes do with other aspects of our health, is a painkillers and plasters approach. SBN wants to tackle the issues not the symptoms and the GulfX programme is intended to create permanent, systems change.

GulfX will initially run for three years. Its first phase will culminate in time for the 2021 Americas Cup and the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation meeting of world leaders.

Rachel Brown is SBN’s founder and CEO. She describes the multi-pronged approach further.

“Through GulfX, our promotion of litter traps in storm water drains will help reduce plastic flows to the sea. That’s important as a band aid solution, but reducing and redesigning problematic plastic packaging through our circular economy work will help tackle the problem at source. Likewise, assisting commercial fleet managers to specify copper free brake pads for their vehicles will help stem the tide of heavy metals impacting the web of life below the waves. Accelerating the transition to an efficient and zero carbon transport system is essential to reduce pollution of all kinds from fossil fuelled vehicles. And at the same time we are expanding the work of our established and successful Million Metres Streams project in the region. This will plant more of the waterways in the Hauraki catchment with native plants and trees. All these measures also help tackle climate change, which is already disrupting the marine environment.”

SBN is reaching out to business partners and organisations all over the region. The aim is to collaborate on further innovations and practical actions.

“We will be doing all we can to help our members and other progressive business people to take this on,” says Rachel. “We believe our businesses have a special responsibility to ensure that our work is positive for the oceans that surround and define us. It is this care that our long term prosperity will be based on. We will weave our work into some of the many awesome initiatives already out there. We need to get everyone rowing together on this. And then we want to take this model nationwide.”

GulfX was officially launched last night at a special event at SEALIFE Kelly Tarlton’s, attended by business leaders and the Minister of Conservation, Hon. Eugiene Sage.

You can get involved right now by:

Further inquiries, please contact Phil Jones, or call 021 835 146.