Following our election in early November, the first important task Deputy Chair Cole and I faced was to present in support of the report given to the Environment and Climate Change Committee regarding the future of the Manukau Harbour Forum. It was heartening to hear of the support from Councillors for increased investment in the Manukau Harbour, as well as a commitment to improving the governing arrangements around the Harbour and working with mana whenua. A copy of my speaking notes is available at: https://infocouncil.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/Open/2020/11/MHFJC_20201127_AGN_10359_AT.htm#PDF3_Attachment_77911_4
On November the 17th I attended the Western Isthmus Water Quality group meeting hosted by Watercare. Although this largely focuses on the Works being undertaken around the Waitemata, there was discussion around the Meola and Whau catchments, as well as some discussion about stormwater separation along the Waikōwhai/Blockhouse Bay coastline.
On November the 23rd the Forum held a workshop and meeting which discussed Water Quality, the I&ES stocktake, an analysis of the report, meeting our new coordinator Fraser Stobie and finalising the work programme for the financial year. Later that evening I joined in with a volunteer group mulching some new plantings above Wattle Bay which will protect the critically threatened dwarf mistletoe which can be found there.
On December 4th I attended the Mangere Community Liaison group hosted by Watercare at their Māngere treatment plant. These meetings cover a wide range of topics and are well attended by community groups involved in the area. Items covered included reports on the plant, a discussion on the use of Oysters and other sealife as sampling organisms, the effects of the Central Interceptor on the plant, the success of a midges control programme introduced recently, COVID in sewage and the Hydrodynamic model. I also presented as a representative of the Forum.
On December the 7th Deputy Chair Cole and I met with the Coordinator and other staff and discussed future ideas for the forum and the role we can play. Fraser brings a lot of strengths and has experience with the Tamaki Estuary Forum so I feel we are in very capable hands.
On December 14th I attended, along with other Local Board members the unveiling of Hiwa-i-te-Rangi, the boring machine for the Central Interceptor. This project is huge and will have a range of flow on effects on the Harbour and the surrounding area.
Over the Christmas and New Year period I have enjoyed swimming in the Manukau at Taumanu Reserve. This beach is a testament to what can happen with political will and community activism. Thanks to the safeswim programme, the community can enjoy swimming there knowing the water is safe.
I was very happy to sign a letter of recommendation for an application to the Freshwater Improvement Fund which focuses on removing sediment and erosion around waterways in the Franklin region. To quote from the letter “Sediment and other pollutants coming down our awa into our moana are a major concern and are having a significant effect on our marine ecosystem. The Manukau Harbour is a taonga for the communities living around it, however the mauri of the Manukau has suffered because of ongoing pollution impacting upon water quality – this requires urgent action. Stopping those pollutants at source is the most effective and durable solution. The MHF is supportive of this ki uta ki tai approach to restoring the mauri of the Manukau Harbour.”
I thank the communities of the Manukau Harbour for allowing us to play a role in the preservation and improvement of the Harbour and look forward to continuing our work this year.
Jon Turner (Puketāpapa Local Board)
Chair of the Manukau Harbour Forum