Manukau Harbour Forum Chair’s report – February and March 2021

This period has largely focused on submissions, particularly as a number of events were cancelled due to Auckland going into lockdown again. I also managed to fracture an elbow in early March so had to miss out on SeaWeek activities this year, but I have appreciated seeing pictures of the mahi undertaken, particularly around removing rubbish from the foreshore.

Our Last workshop was February 12th 2021. Topics on the agenda included:

  • The coordinators work on the stocktake of Local Board initiatives which will be available to read on the next business meeting agenda. A high level analysis shows over $2 million spent from Local Board work programme initiatives that benefit the harbour. Forward work needs to look at creating programmes that work across Local Board boundaries, and focusing on marine ecosystems such as benthic communities.
  • An update from Watercare on projects affecting the Manukau – particularly around the treatment plant. There was a lot of new information for Forum members, one highlight for me was hearing about a baseline study for the Southwest treatment plant taking into account matauranga Māori. We also received an update on the Hydrodynamic model and the holdup with the model overpredicting algal blooms. More to come on this in future.
  • An update on the Freshwater management tool run by Wai Ora. This is a huge piece of work that will be invaluable in discussions of intensification in Tāmaki Makaurau, and was really impressive to hear about. There is the ability to ‘model’ what the effects of projects will be on the ‘current state’ such as adding impermeable surfaces as part of a housing development.
  • An update from Healthy Waterson how the  Water Quality Targeted Rate extension would benefit the harbour. Most of the focus was on the Southern Catchments Alignment, which will be used to clean up waterways entering the Harbour. There was a desire to get more information on this from the forum.  There was also discussion of how the Safe Networks team is working to track where pollution comes from in residential areas.

Sadly this was the day that we learnt of the pollution spill into the harbour from an industrial site in Penrose. Investigations are continuing into how this happened, what procedures were not followed and what needs to be in place to stop this happening.

The Forum have also written submissions on the Auckland Council Long Term Plan and the Climate Change Commission Report. These will be available on the next business meeting agenda. Both express a clear desire for both documents to do far more in the space of water quality and wider environmental protection. Thanks to Fraser Stobie for his hard work in collating these, well worth a read as they set out the mahi for the Forum quite well.

The Youth Sustainability Wananga invitation has been sent out and students are being contacted soon with this beginning in April. This wasn’t able to run last year under Covid so we are very excited about this mahi.

Local Boards are all working on their work programs, and the stocktake from last year will be useful in this development. The forum is awaiting confirmation of funding for next year before finalizing any work program but beginning discussions around what we would like to include.

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