“ Papaki mai ngā nunui, wawaratia ngā tai rere, e ripo e ngā ngaru nunui, te rehu tai, hei konei ra”
– na Makareta Moehau Tamaariki.
It is essential to recognise the spiritual, cultural and historic connections mana whenua have with the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana / Te Moananui-ā-Toi. This report has endeavoured to capture equally and weave together Māori and Tauiwi perspectives.
Ki uta, ki tai, from the mountains to the sea. There are constant reminders that our taiao – environment is changing. The environment and the kaupapa for preservation and protection of this taonga we call The Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana / Te Moananui-ā-Toi, must come first.
Let us be the voice for the voiceless. At the Hauraki Gulf Forum’s 2019 Making Waves Conference all attendees were asked what they would say if they were the moana of the Hauraki Gulf, Tīkapa Moana, Te Moananui-ā-Toi. Their beautiful collective story, ‘Healing the Hauraki Gulf – together’, is published here.
As we enter into this new decade, we reflect on all that has been accomplished and what more needs to be done to ensure our tamariki and mokopuna can enjoy this taonga.
In May 2019 the Hauraki Gulf Forum set two major goals; 1000 square kilometres of shellfish restoration and at least 20% marine protection of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. These goals are a starting point from which to grow dreams and aspirations. Through good management, collaborative strategies and plans in action, the dreams and aspirations of a healthy and vibrant Hauraki Gulf, Tīkapa Moana, Te Moananui-ā-Toi will be a reality.
It is important to acknowledge the dedication and efforts of mana whenua, government agencies, local government, philanthropic organisations, learning institutions, local businesses, community groups and individuals collectively committed to making a difference.
In addition, work by local and now central government to take forward the Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari Marine Spatial brings with it both hopes and expectations.
The increasingly positive relationships with local and central government, in particular with the Ministers of Conservation, Fisheries and Māori Development, are a source of strength for the moana.
After 20 years of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, it does feel like the tides are starting to turn for the better. Together we will achieve great results.
He waka eke noa – We are all in this waka together
Seaweek is happening from Saturday 29th February to Sunday 8th March 2020! The theme for Seaweek this year is: Connecting with our Seas, Ko au te moana, ko te moana ko au – I am the sea, the sea is me.
Seaweek is NZAEE’s annual, national flagship event. This year NZAEE has partnered with Sir Peter Blake Marine Education and Recreation Centre (MERC) to deliver Seaweek. Through this collaborative effort the team at MERC are excited to engage with more people across the nation through their connection with the sea! Sir Peter Blake MERC was founded in 1990 and their mission is to provide life-changing marine environmental education and outdoor experiences for young New Zealanders. They feel that connection is an important thing to emphasize, particularly as these diverse but inextricable connections of our lives on land and life in the ocean support us.
Seaweek is the perfect opportunity to connect with the sea and NZAEE & MERC encourage you to take the opportunity to celebrate and learn more about our marine environment by taking part in an event or initiative near you. Events and activities are planned across the country – from art competitions, beach cleans, and coastal walks to guided snorkelling events, there is something for everyone! Keep an eye on the Seaweek website, Facebook page and Instagram to find events near you.
The annual Seaweek Ocean Champion Challenge requires entrants to undertake a specific ‘Ocean Challenge’ to help solve a problem in the marine environment. There are two categories; one for junior entrants under 16 years of age and an open category for all other entries. Entries for this year close 9 February 2020, and voting starts the next day for first, second and third for juniors and seniors – all other entrants still go in the draw to receive awesome prizes! For more details and to enter the Ocean Champion Challenge go to www.seaweek.org.nz!
Look on the Seaweek website to find event listings for your region, and if you are interested in hosting an event for Seaweek or have any questions about events in your region please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take the opportunity to let Seaweek help you promote your event or share your photos by tagging #Seaweek2020 on social media so they can shine a light on the awesome events and showcase the work you’re doing to protect our oceans.
NZAEE and MERC would like to thank Foundation North and the many generous sponsors who make Seaweek possible through financial support and in-kind donations.
Joined at the hip with Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland, the waters and islands of the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana / Te Moananui-ā-toi are the breeding grounds for at least 27 species of seabirds – making it an internationally recognised seabird hotspot. 24 of these species breed within the Auckland Region, which runs from mid-Kaipara Harbour south to Karioitahi on the west coast, and from the Mangawhai Forest south to the northern Hūnua Ranges on the east coast.
Seabirds have a major influence on their surroundings and play a vital role in the functioning of the habitat around them. In the case of the Hauraki Gulf, seabirds link the land and sea. The birds come ashore and go underground, bringing marine nutrition onto the land, which in turn supports the health of the sea.
The majority of seabirds in the Auckland Region are considered ‘at risk’ or ‘threatened’ with extinction, so Auckland Council is stepping up with a seabird and shorebird monitoring and research programme – a first for local government.
The Council’s programme began in late 2018 with funding through the Natural Environment Targeted Rate. The programme aims to improve the conservation status of Auckland’s seabirds and shorebirds, and this will be accomplished by conducting much-needed monitoring to fill knowledge gaps around population health and breeding success and carrying out research relating to how the Council and its partners might go about restoring these bird populations.
The Council is collaborating with others to achieve these goals, having established partnerships with the University of Auckland, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Department of Conversation, the Northern New Zealand Seabird Trust, as well as various community groups keen to help out.
One year on, Dr Todd Landers, Senior Scientist with Auckland Council’s Research and Evaluation ‘RIMU’ Unit, reflects proudly on some of the programme’s achievements thus far. “Having a better understanding of the seabirds and shorebirds in the Auckland Region is critical to knowing what we can do to reverse the decline we’re seeing in our bird populations. Working alongside our partners, we’re filling in crucial knowledge gaps about our seabird populations, how successful they are, and what threats exist to them, which will help us develop and implement future management actions to help increase their populations to healthy, resilient levels.”
So far, the programme has included: Species/Site Prioritisation: Species and sites were prioritised for the first phase of the programme, based on a review of existing research. The Noises Seabird Restoration and Monitoring: A parekareka (spotted shag) restoration site has been set up on Otata Island (the largest in the Noises islands group) in collaboration with Auckland War Memorial Museum and the Noises’ landowners, where attempts are being made to establish a new colony of spotted shags using an acoustic attraction system and parekareka decoys. The acoustic system also broadcasts calls from other key species so as to attract them to this predator-free site, and monitoring of the takahikare-moana (white-faced storm petrel) is taking place on Ruapuke/Maria Island. Motukino (Fanal) Island Programme: The Council began surveying Fanal Island (Mokohinau Group), a large island with little existing biodiversity knowledge. The survey has included classification of vegetation types, assessment of what habitats are present, and identifying some of the seabird species that might breed on the island, including potential signs of species breeding nowhere else in Auckland. Pokohinu (Burgess) Island Programme: A seabird monitoring network is being developed on Pokohinu Island to assess all species breeding there. The first survey was completed in late 2019, which builds on the collaborative monitoring work that’s been done over the last couple years with Auckland University of Technology. Shag Surveys: Coastal surveys for Auckland’s five shag species were conducted over a large portion of the coastline and Gulf island sites including Waiheke, Tarahiki, Pakatoa, Rotoroa, Motuihe, Kawau (and smaller surrounding islands), Motuora, and Lake Pupuke, with several active shag colonies identified which will be followed up for population and breeding success assessments. Community Seabird Monitoring: The Council has been working with restoration groups at a number of locations in Auckland where they are trialling community-based seabird monitoring.
Dr Landers says “We hope that community participation in our monitoring programmes gives more Aucklanders the opportunity to get involved and engaged with our taonga. Our seabirds are very special and we have an incredible diversity right here in Tāmaki Makaurau. But the birds urgently need our help to recover.”
To get involved or find out more about the programme please contact Todd Landers on email@example.com
Attendees at the Hauraki Gulf Forum’s Making Waves conference in August last year were involved in a collective exercise to develop an umbrella story for the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.
Nick Sampson (Director of Strategy at Principals Brand Agency) kindly took on the challenge of facilitating this. Conference attendees split into 17 groups and were given a ‘story structure’ to populate, either from their perspective, or the park’s. The drafts were read aloud. The results were inspiring, with many common themes. The exercise itself was a very positive way to end the day. Principals took the stories away and developed the umbrella version.
Executive Officer of the Hauraki Gulf Forum, Alex Rogers, says “It makes sense to articulate the story of the Gulf in a concise, compelling way. It’ll help focus us. We can also apply it through various channels, be that our annual report, the 2020 State of the Environment Report or at our 20th birthday event.” Rogers says, “Our story captures the spirit of what we’re doing and how we can work together to achieve this. Working together is a consistent theme and critical to our success.”
Thanks to the conference attendees, and Nick Sampson… here’s our story…
I am a living, breathing embodiment of mauri. The life force that connects us all, ki uta ki tai, from the mountains to the sea. Look at me on a good day and all seems well. But the truth is I’ve been hurting.
Shellfish beds decimated. Fish stocks low. My seabed suffocating with plastic and sediment. A mighty ecosystem brought to its knees.
The healing process will take time, hard mahi, and co-operation. And it will also take more than just aroha. I need a true, unrelenting partnership. One of protection and active restoration. Every one of us has a role to play in this, but we’ll also need to work as one.
Only when my mauri is fully restored will this journey end. Back where it all began. A healthy, teeming, abundant taonga, with kaimoana and opportunity for all. Mauri ora! I can be healed. I need you all by my side. Working together, our future looks bright.
Respecting fish is at the core of the Kai Ika project which started as a pilot project at the Outboard Boating Club in Whakatakataka Bay (Tamaki Drive) in partnership with Legasea and Papatuanuku Kokiri Marae in Mangere.
In just over three years the project has seen over 50 tonnes of fish collected and utilised by the Marae’s healthy food community programme. This impressive feat would not have been possible without buy-in from the Outboard Boating Club’s (OBC) nearly 2000 members of recreational boaties.
Struggling with fish waste, Legasea initially developed a solution by partnering with Papatuanuku Kokiri Marae which had award-winning recognition for its healthy food programme to lessen their community’s reliance on junk food by providing healthy vegetables grown at the marae. The OBC completed the equation by providing the fish caught by its members.
Dedicated fridges were installed at a purpose-built filleting station at the club so that members could safely preserve offcuts, heads, frames and offal for collection by the marae. The heads of fish are highly prized rangatira kai or ‘chiefly food’ by Maori and Pacific peoples, while fish frames and offcuts can be turned into delicious soups and stews. The offal is high-quality fertilizer used in the vegetable gardens and kumara beds.
Recognised as a runner-up in the Sustainable Business Awards, the Kai Ika project is now expanding to Westhaven Marina and Wellington, with Legasea providing assistance to other clubs wishing to fish more sustainably.
The project has generated great pride at the OBC where it is being a catalyst for more sustainable fishing practices that includes greater respect in the handling and treatment of the fish resource.
The club’s ongoing education into sustainable fish handling techniques and equipment all contributes significantly to its international Blue Flag environmental programme which had brought nation-wide accolades.
Blue Flag certification makes the OBC part of a prestigious international environmental auditing system for marinas, boat clubs and beaches operating in 45 countries. Independent annual audits check the club’s operating procedures over 40 different aspects relating to sustainability, safety and education. The OBC was recently recognised with a Supreme Best Practice Award at the national Keep New Zealand Beautiful Awards.
OBC Commodore Bill Berry explains the club’s motivation for Kai Ika, Blue Flag and their extensive environmental efforts, “The environment that our members treasure, the Hauraki Gulf, is right on our doorstep, it inspired a group of volunteers to pitch in and create our early facilities, whilst setting strong safety standards to ensure club members always acted safely and responsibly. The same principle now applies to our environmental responsibilities too. We know that if our families want to keep enjoying the Hauraki Gulf for generations to come then we must not only look after ourselves but also the environment. We’re proud of the efforts we make and hope to inspire other clubs and the boating community to follow our example and are happy to share our knowledge”.
The OBC supports numerous grassroots environmental efforts including Motuihe Trust (for 18 years and counting), Revive the Gulf, and coastal cleanup events, as well as supporting scientific studies on Orca, mussel beds, microplastics and water quality. The club also provides ongoing support and complimentary storage for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, Police, Harbourmaster, Auckland Council, Surf Lifesaving as well as for marine events when required.
A partnership between Auckland Council, adhesives company Selleys, and peanut butter producers Nut Brothers is deploying 22,000 rat bait blocks and 160kg of peanut butter. The Talon wax blocks will be used in continuing trapping efforts on the Hauraki Gulf Islands and in remote rural areas as part of the Pest Free Auckland Programme:
According to Brett Butland, Auckland Council’s Pest Free Auckland Director, an unusually high seeding led to a wealth of food for native species. This has also fueled high populations of pests such as rats and stoats. These pests pose a serious threat to native wildlife as predator populations build up during the spring and summer months. “We want to stay ahead of the game and ensure our predator free islands remain that way.”
“We know that rats prefer organic oils – like the ones contained in peanut butter – and they’re more likely to draw the pests to the bait stations. The rat bait and peanut butter work really well together.”
The Government made its intention clear with the announcement to protect a flight path of a species of native birds who frequent the Thames coast before flying to the Arctic.
The announcement, which was made by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage, signals that the Yellow Sea is now classified as a World Heritage site.
The Red Knots and Godwits fly from the Firth of Thames to their breeding ground every year which is a 12,000km journey.
Red knots breed in Siberia, while the godwits breed in Alaska. Both the red knots and godwits land at wetlands in China to refuel, before flying on to their breeding sites.
However, due to the mudflats around the Yellow Sea being destroyed by development, there has been a decline in shorebirds numbers.
“This recognises the importance of retaining mudflats,” Sage said.
“We’ve seen the loss of about two thirds of mudflats in that area, but now China is committing to their protection.
“It’s really great news for godwits and knots and it makes their journey a bit safer.”
The specific sites the birds use will be part of a Yellow Sea World Heritage proposal to be developed by China with support from other partners in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership.
The East Asian-Australasian Flyway for migratory birds extends from Awarua Bay in the south of New Zealand and crosses China on its way to the North Slope in Alaska.
“Equally important is the work being done on this side of the Pacific. The recent acquisition of the Robert Findlay Reserve at Miranda was a significant local contribution to the conservation of migratory shorebird habitat in New Zealand,” Sage said.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand was part of an international community that had a duty of care, and also commended the work done by volunteers and supporters of the Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre.
“You are creating an environment where the next generation will feel motivated to continue the conservation work that you’re doing, not just here but globally.
“You have my word that when I get the opportunity, I am happy to continue the diplomacy you’ve been undertaking.
“If it’s not to advocate for our people but to also act as guardians and demonstrate kaitiakitanga to the birdlife that call New Zealand part of their migratory routes.”
Centre manager Keith Woodley said the profile of the country’s shorebirds needed to be raised and likened their voyage to humans doubling their weight and running a marathon.
“That’s essentially what these birds are doing,” he said.
“They double their weight and they go on this huge endurance flight. Of course, we couldn’t do it, but they are superbly equipped and adapted to doing it.”
The 2019 Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Conference – Making Waves: Protecting and Restoring the Marine Park – saw over 250 participants flock to Auckland’s War Memorial Museum at the end of August. The annual event, which was held on August 27, saw an audience treated to a range of engaging and interactive presentations about the Marine Park which can be viewed here (http://gulfjournal.org.nz/seminar-talk/?seminar-name=2019-making-waves), but they also had the opportunity to participate in group sessions as a collaborative approach to further shape the Forum’s recently announced Big Goals of at least 20% marine protection and 1000sq kilometre of shellfish restoration.
The Holdaway Awards, which recognise extraordinary contributions to the Marine Park were presented to Betty Whaitiri Williams, former inaugural member of the Hauraki Gulf Forum, and posthumously to Roger Grace, marine biologist who passed away earlier this year.
The Conference also featured a keynote address from the Minister of Conservation at which the Government announced new funding for shellfish restoration (see: https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/government-helps-fund-efforts-restore-shellfish-beds-hauraki-gulf) and several youth focused elements including a youth panel, virtual reality experience by NZ Geographic and BLAKE, and a view of the future from Young Ocean Explorers. Finally, conference participants worked together on the elements for a potential future vision for the Marine Park.
“In the 1980s I helped my Grandfather sink his old freezer in the harbour. It was a fun outing and a good challenge, afterwards I wondered what might inhabit the new white cave on the seafloor. Now days we all know better and I hate to think what toxic chemicals leaked out of that old machine and poisoned the bay,” anonymous New Zealander
A recent Ghost Fishing New Zealand event was held in Okahu Bay to help clean up the seafloor. The detrimental effects of lost fishing gear and rubbish was documented through video and photography.
Over the last four years, Ghost Fishing New Zealand (GFNZ) has worked diligently in cleaning open water spaces. These divers were inspired by overseas divers and named themselves after the ghost nets lost by commercial fishers that they retrieve. The team often pull tonnes of rubbish up from the deep in just a few hours using lift bags.
A station is set up at the event dedicated to sifting through the collection to extract mobile marine life from the rubbish.
“My job was to photograph the species as they were being removed by volunteers under the supervision of marine biologist Eddie van Halen Howard. Adults and children alike crowded around each piece of trash as it came ashore and Eddie enthusiastically identified and told stories about each animal,” – Shaun Lee
The highlight has to be this rarely seen Porcelain Crab (Petrocheles spinosus). It seems to be the first photograph of its species in the wild, though in this case the habitat had been moved.”
If you would like more information about Ghost Fishing NZ, please visit them here or better yet follow them on Facebook.
A newly released book captures the significance of Hauturu Little Barrier Island and the ecological identity of this wonderful natural reserve.
Hauturu: History, flora and fauna of Little Barrier Island was launched at the Auckland Museum in September featuring key note speakers including editors Lyn Wade and Dick Veitch, along with The Little Barrier Supporters Trust patron Ruud Kleinpaste.
One of the evening’s highlights were the key insights, examples and experiences from the speakers who spoke about the historical significance of Hauturu and about the future of conservation in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Marine protection for the Hauraki Gulf was also noted as a shared vision for many who live, work and thrive on the Gulf.
Representatives of Ngati Whatua Orākei and Ngati Manuhiri also welcomed the crowd of several hundred attendees and highlighted the importance of Hauturu to mana whenua.
This important piece of literature is now available from booksellers nationwide. However, for those who wish to support the work of the Littler Barrier Island (Hauturu) Supporters Trust we encourage you to purchase a copy directly from the Trust.
For more information or to purchase a book, please follow the link below to the Trust’s website.
Conservationists are calling for continued action amid the increasing impact sediment is having on giant kokopu, one of Auckland’s rarest whitebait species.
The urgency comes from Auckland Council’s Freshwater Senior Regional Adviser Matt Bloxham, who says “Auckland doesn’t appear to have enough giant kokopu stream (source) populations to maintain high recruitment, because oceanic larval stocks are becoming depleted.”
Like other whitebait species, the young of giant kokopu spend time developing in the ocean before returning to adult habitat as whitebait in spring. “As adult populations are lost, we potentially add to this problem by reducing the oceanic larval pool and therefore also recruitment back into adult stream habitat.” Matt adds, “It’s akin to young kiwi folk going off on their OE but never returning home. Fewer young fish come back, the population ages and eventually dies out”.
This sediment issue is implicated in the noted decline of giant kokopu populations nationally and throughout mainland Auckland.
A remnant population at West Hoe Heights in Orewa was lost recently due to unmitigated sediment loss from a housing development into a nearby giant kokopu wetland. The Nukumea population in the neighbouring catchment is now coming under similar pressure.
A recent stocktake of known giant kokopu sites on the mainland found no fish at any of the 25-former giant kokopu sites. A handful of new (mainly island) sites have been found since, but they contain on average fewer than half a dozen fish and in some streams, a solitary fish remains.
However, the discovery of three geographically overlapping giant kokopu ranges on the south-eastern corner of Waiheke Island and another in Waitakere Regional Park increases the prospect of the species enduring in Auckland.
The first population found was in Awaawaroa Wetland in 2014, which resulted in the local community and Council mobilising to restore the population. More recently, there have been populations found in the neighbouring catchment to the east of Awaawaroa, and at Whatipu in the Waitakere Ranges.
However, a third population to the west of the Awaawaroa system, Whakanewha Regional Park, has recently disappeared “we think because of sediment loss from a gravel road higher up the catchment”, says Matt.
It turns out the population found to the east of Awaawaroa is the largest we have left in the region and the juveniles it disgorges into the ocean are likely to bolster the two nearby giant kokopu wetland populations.
“But even the largest population may become compromised if the two smaller populations (Awaawaroa and Whakanewha) are allowed fall away (i.e. it is likely that all 3 populations are underpinned by the same oceanic larval supply).
“While we will have to restock Whakanewha, if we act quickly and seal the sections of road that contribute sediment to Whakanewha, Whatipu and Awaawaroa, we may be able to sustain all three fisheries.”
“Major stochastic storm events of the type we are expecting more of with climate change have the potential to generate considerably more sediment and compromise kokopu populations in these rural and peri-urban environments. We are grappling with that at Awaawaroa, Whakanewha Regional Park, at Whatipu and in and around Orewa, where the species’ exposure to suspended sediment is high, particularly from roading.”
Matt says, “while gravel roads aren’t the only sediment source, they are one of the key sediment contributors in two of the Waiheke wetlands and are putting giant kokopu under particular pressure there”.
Mr Bloxham says “because the gravel on Waiheke has a high clay content, it only adds to the problem. Fine sediment is remobilized with every vehicle movement and stored in loose uncompacted drifts within the road corridor. At Whatipu, Whakanewha and at Awaawaroa, the close proximity of the gravel roads to their respective receiving freshwater environments means there’s very limited opportunity to intercept/settle out the sediment before it reaches the waterway and sealing is really the only option,” he said.
Auckland Council is responding to the issue of sediment loss to waterways from bulk earthworks sites and is working tirelessly to combat every angle of the issue. Matt says, “parallels can be drawn between earthwork sites and unsealed (gravel) roads. However, over their lifetime, dirt roads have the potential to be considerably more impactful as there are no sediment controls and release persists for as long as the roads prevail, whereas bulk earthworks are usually relatively short-term activities.”
Auckland Council aided by Forest and Bird, Conservation Volunteers NZ and the local community are working urgently to address the other threats to the island’s wetland populations, which include habitat loss and predation.
A Fisheries New Zealand national survey of recreational fishing has confirmed the ongoing importance of recreational fishing.
The National Panel Survey – which is conducted every 5 to 6 years – provides a snapshot of recreational fishing activity around the country, says Fisheries New Zealand director of fisheries management, Stuart Anderson.
“This is added to a wide range of other information to help us understand what is happening in our fisheries and inform our decision making over the next few years.
“One of the top-line results was confirmation of the ongoing popularity of recreational fishing. We estimate that 14 percent of the country’s population over the age of 15 years went fishing at least once during 2017-2018.
“We also found that recreational fishers catch a large proportion of key recreational fish species such as snapper, kahawai, blue cod, and kingfish. There’s been little change in the proportion of these fish caught by recreational and commercial fishers since 2012.”
The survey contacted more than 30,000 people and about 7,000 recreational fishers had their fishing outings recorded over a 12-month period.
The final results were confirmed by comparing different surveys conducted by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and the National Research Bureau (NRB).
Other key findings include:
About half of all recreational fishing occurs around the north-east coast of the North Island along the coastline from the tip of Northland to East Cape.
An estimated almost 2 million fishing trips were taken in 2017-2018.
In 2017-2018, recreational fishers caught an estimated 7 million individual finfish and 3.9 million individual shellfish.
In the Hauraki Gulf the average recreational snapper catch has seen a lot of fluctuation, almost tripling in the last 30 years, but trending down since the last survey in 2012.
The average recreational kahawai catch has more than quadrupled in the Hauraki Gulf.
Southland is the only area in the country where recreational fisher numbers appears to be increasing, by about 14%.