The headlines tend to inform us of our rapidly deteriorating marine environment, not reporting on the many things that are so good about the sea. But the ocean is still amazing, she is resilient and provides us with a million and one reasons to love her.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 Ministry for the Environment has launched consultations on improving management of New Zealand’s rivers and lakes: “Action for Healthy Waterways: A Discussion Document on National Direction for our Essential Freshwater”.
As the discussion document notes our fresh water is suffering as a result of human activity, primarily from urban development, agriculture, horticulture and forestry. Urgent action is required to stop an already bad situation getting worse. Proposed action includes: better management of stormwater and wastewater no further loss of wetlands and streams tighter controls to prevent sediment loss from earthworks and urban development farmers and growers understanding and managing environmental risks and following good practice new standards and limits on some farming activities in some regions or catchments.
Beyond those proposals the Government is also working on other parts of its plan for freshwater, including allocation of allowances to discharge nutrients, institutional/oversight arrangements for the freshwater management system, and addressing Māori rights and interests in freshwater.
It is important that you have your say on these landmark reforms. Submissions will be accepted until 31 October 2019.
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%.
As my time as Chair of the Forum comes to an end, I am proud of our progress and encouraged by what I see out there in our communities around the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. There is now widespread commitment to environmental restoration and protection of the Gulf, such as the massive efforts being put into pest eradication, weed control and replanting on dozens of the islands in its waters. Almost all but the two largest islands are now pest free, providing a haven for one of the richest sea and land bird regions in the world. “Pest Free Waiheke”, now underway, will add to this improving picture and is a good example of funding for a community project by a consortium of local and central government and private funders.
I believe the many Trusts devoted to restoring the natural environment on Gulf islands should consciously add attention to the surrounding waters to their objectives. Combined, they could make a major contribution to improving habitats in the surrounding waters. The Neureuter family, owners of the Noises Islands, is showing the way on this by actively seeking to secure meaningful protection around the islands. They are facilitating visits to the Noises by a wide range of people and organisations to demonstrate the opportunities for restoration and are working with iwi, researchers and activists to document the current state of habitats and marine life around the Noises to provide a basis for measuring the effects of protection when it is granted.
There are also many and varied shellfish and marine habitat restoration projects being undertaken but these are as yet small in scale. Over the past year I have attended many meetings of organisations committed to these efforts and have been in awe of the commitment and persistence of their members. Their efforts need to be bolstered financially. There is a big opportunity here for philanthropists to fund community efforts, supported by enthusiastic academics and professional environmental organisations. My personal hope is for a philanthropic contribution of $5 million per year for 20 years to shellfish-bed restoration.
Meanwhile, regional and district councils in the Gulf’s catchments are showing increasing commitment to improving the state of the Gulf through efforts to clean up the waters and waste materials flowing into it and, more recently, cleaning up or strengthening the shoreline. Many of the land-based activities have the active support of, or are being led by, the Department of Conservation.
Many organisations and individuals involved in working for restoration of the Gulf have been further energised by the adoption of the Forum’s two “Big Goals”. This is very gratifying. And timely. These goals are focused on restoring marine habitats to enable marine life to regain its ability to restore the kind of abundance it used to have. Marine habitat restoration work has had less attention compared to land based, “in view”, activities and needs a big spur going forward.
The establishment of the Ministerial Advisory Group on the Sea Change Tai Timu Tai Pari Marine Spatial Plan completed in May 2017 should ensure there is more attention given to the recommendations in that Plan by central government. In due course, resulting actions by central government will complement the work already being undertaken by regional and local government in response to that report. Fisheries NZ is already beginning to commit to the improvements sorely needed and I trust they will begin to be active in facilitating strategic protection areas, reducing the impact of habitat destroying fishing methods, and managing fish stock levels more proactively in the Gulf than has been evident over the past 3-4 decades.
The Sea Change report reminded us that the many iwi with a direct connection to the Hauraki Gulf were and are involved in Treaty negotiations and that settlements will enable them to focus on greater involvement in the management of the natural resources of its waters. The full involvement of iwi will be essential if we are to achieve the meaningful protection needed to meet the goals we have set and their aspirations for the Gulf. There is therefore a need for much more active engagement with the relevant iwi. Deputy Chair Moana Tamaariki-Pohe has been working with Te Puni Kōkiri and tangata whenua representatives who are members of the Forum to improve this interaction and it forms a major part of our recently adopted Communications Strategy. In that context, we will ensure the next State of the Environment Report from the Forum, due to be released on its 20th anniversary on 27 February 2020, will systematically incorporate the Te Ao Māori perspective throughout.
All that said, as I looked over the key achievements of the Forum since its inception in this year’s annual report, I note that the aspirations expressed for the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act in the year 2000 still fall a long way short of what’s needed. There are lots of good reasons for this and I have no wish to imply criticism of any individual or organisation involved in the Forum or the Gulf. I merely note that we must make the most of the quite significant new opportunities coming up in the next few years, such as the prospective commitment from central government to the Sea Change recommendations; the Americas Cup defence; Te Matatini in 2021, and so on. Through these, we can highlight the need for more and more effective action to restore the fantastic taonga that is Tīkapa Moana in a reasonable timeframe.
Seaweek 2019 kicks off this Saturday, 2 March. There is plenty on offer, with some 200 events, including more than 50 in Auckland, 40 in Wellington and 30 in Hawkes Bay, plus six competitions. So dive in, visit the website seaweek.org.nz and check out the events near you!
National Coordinator Dr Mels Barton is delighted at the response to this year’s Seaweek:
“We are getting more groups organising events every year, and many more repeating events year after year. It’s great to have so many opportunities around the country for families to learn about the amazing marine environment we have in New Zealand and how to protect it.”
The theme of Seaweek this year is “Tiakina o Tātou Mōana – Care for our Seas”.
Voting for the 2019 Senior Seaweek Ocean Champion closes today (Friday 1 March) and the competition is intense. The winner of the award, sponsored by the New Zealand Coastal Society, will be announced at the Bill Ballantine Memorial Lecture: Changing Ecology in a Changing Ocean on Thursday 7 March at the University of Auckland.
Cawthron Institute and Sustainable Seas Science Challenge scientist Heni Unwin will be on tour around the country during Seaweek, telling communities about her marine plastic tracker model at a number of interactive events.
Events in and around the Hauraki Gulf include a Manukau Harbour Clean-up and sand sculpture competition (win a kayak!); snorkel days at Mokohinau, Goat Island and Rotoroa Island; Ocean Oasis film extravaganza at Lopdell House, Waitakere; kayak tours at Okura; glass bottom boat tours at Goat Island; rockpool tour and water sport activities at Sir Peter Blake’s MERC; sailing on Steinlager 2; Westhaven Marina open day and numerous clean-ups at Mission Bay, Eastern Beach, Shakespeare, Maraetai and Waiheke Island.
Schools can learn all about stormwater with the Tread Lightly Drain Game at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s all week.
In the Waikato, there’s an Inner Harbour beach clean; Marine Matters Science Night; Seaweek special at Waikato River (including a clean-up), a Maui Dolphin Day, and Recycled Raft Race.
To coincide with Seaweek, the annual Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Poster is available in today’s New Zealand Herald (Friday 1 March). Beautifully illustrated by Dave Gunson, with graphic design by Shaun Lee, this year’s poster shows you the outline of the 1.2 million hectares of the Marine Park. It’s a lot bigger than most people think!
Waikawau Bay Campground in the Coromandel will be closed from 1 March to 30 June 2019 for a $2.1Million upgrade on water facilities
The 1250 camper capacity campground will be closed to the public while 10 new ablution blocks, complete with point taps, showers, and sink benches are installed. They will be fitted with automatic shut-off type tapware. The upgrade will conserve water usage by up to 60%.
DOC is upgrading a number of Northern Coromandel campgrounds. The investments, which include new facilities, will improve campers’ experiences and accommodate the influx of visitors to the region over the busy summer season.
Operations Manager Nick Kelly says “the new facilities have been designed to conserve water across the campground. The measures not only reduce the amount of water waste but also encourage visitors to drink the drinking water on site rather than bringing in bottled water. The empty bottles usually end up in local waste stations.”
A humble handmade boat that helped launched the yachting career of Sir Peter Blake has a new home at the New Zealand Maritime Museum. Sir Peter, with his brother Tony, built the 7-metre keel yacht named Bandit in the backyard of their Bayswater family home in 1966, when Sir Peter was just 17.
Bandit was one of the vessels Sir Peter learnt his craft on Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf as a teenager, winning several Auckland sailing competitions in the summer of 1968 when they eventually got it out on the water.
He went on to have one of the most celebrated sailing careers in New Zealand’s history – including winning the America’s Cup in 1995 and successfully defending it in 2000 and circumnavigating the globe six times.
Mussel beds installed in Mahurangi Harbour (Waihē) late 2017 are having a major upgrade this month from the Mussel Reef Restoration Trust (Revive our Gulf). Three 10 tonne mussel beds will be added to extend the previous five.
The Faculty of Creative Arts & Industries at the University of Auckland is running a project to garner ideas from Aucklanders who love the Hauraki Gulf. They’re running a series of creative workshops to identify several powerful concepts that in the project’s second phase can be implemented.
The Faculty of Creative Arts & Industry sense that by liberating imagination and coupling that with existing knowledge, they can shift the public psyche from a complaints and ignorance state about the health and wellbeing of the Hauraki Gulf to one of collective creative action.
The project has received funding from the Foundation North GIFT fund. The University team are searching for 100 Aucklanders who love the Hauraki Gulf to participate in surfacing ideas and concepts that have the potential to move the hearts and minds of Aucklanders.
You must be available to attend the launch event on Saturday 6 October, followed by a four-hour workshop on Saturday 27 October.
Even though it is just 3.4 kilometres off the coast, the Whangaparaoa Peninsula is normally a flight-too-far for tīeke/saddlebacks on Tiritiri Matangi Is.
But 40 were given a helping hand to resettle there in May, behind the safety of Shakespear Regional Park’s predator fence.
The park is proving its credentials as a safe mainland sanctuary for native wildlife with Whiteheads, North Island Robin and little-spotted kiwi also released behind its fence.
Whangaparaoa residents are already seeing the benefits with more native birds flying into their gardens.
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.