Manukau Harbour Forum Chair’s Report April – June 2021

Over the period covered by this report, I have been busy in my new role as Deputy Chair for the Puketāpapa Local Board and work going on with the Harbour Forum. Several events I have attended have allowed me to represent both roles, and the lens I have around the Manukau Harbour has informed our board’s submissions to the Governing Body.

It has been a busy time for the Council with consultation on the 10 Year Long Term Plan, Regional Land Transport Plan and end of Financial Year all taking place within a short period of time.

Our last workshop was on April 9th and was a very interesting meeting, covering:

  • Initial discussions around the Forum’s work programme for the next financial year.
    • Discussions around having Kainga Ora present at a workshop, looking at the similarities across the boards Kainga Ora is working in and encouraging them to see the Manukau Harbour as a wider catchment that connects these areas.
    • Update from Conservation Volunteers on their Papakura Stream work. Lots of trees being planted, funding for fences made of recycled plastic on a number of farms.
    • Te Whakaoratanga I te Puhinui: The Puhinui Regeneration Strategy session was a fascinating look at the work Panuku is doing in partnership with Waiohua iwi. This project is very exciting and I look forward to its progression.
    • An update from Natural Environment Strategy on the work following the recommendations from the Environment and Climate Change Committee meeting of the November 12th 2020.

On the 23rd April Whau Local Board Chair Thomas and I attended and spoke at the “Young Leaders Sustainability Wananga” at Ambury Park, part-funded by the Manukau Harbour Forum. The young leaders were selected from schools within the 9 Local Board areas of the Forum, and from the small snippet I saw, they had learnt a considerable amount. A highlight was seeing the young leaders who had taken part in previous years return and share the benefits of being in the programme and all of the mahi they take part in to protect and enhance the harbour.

On April 30th, Mangere-Otahuhu Chair Sosene, Coordinator Fraser Stobie and I attended a site visit at the Old Mangere Bridge replacement. We saw the plans for the ‘heritage garden’ at the Northern end and then went out onto the bridge to see the tremendous amount of work going into it. This will be an impressive asset when completed and will work to bring people to the harbour.

As part of the Long Term Plan (LTP) process, I raised concerns with councillors around the lack of funding earmarked for the Manukau Harbour out of the Water Quality Targeted Rate. The “Southern catchments programme” is focused on the Tamaki Estuary and Manukau Harbour, intended to leverage other major infrastructure projects which will need to invest in improving water quality. There is also investment into the safer networks programme which looks at investigating the ‘high problem’ areas and finding the illegal connections which often exist in areas of high pollution. There was widespread agreement that there is a need to tell the story of what is being done in the Manukau across the Council’s spending. I note that in the final LTP consultation report, four local boards specifically expressed support for using the Water Quality Targeted Rate to improve water quality in the Manukau Harbour.

On May 14th the Forum and a range of community and council representatives boarded the Ratahi for a field trip around the Manukau Harbour. Jim Jackson was generous enough to allow the trip to leave from his place in Clark’s Beach, and after a round of introductions and a karakia from George Flavell of Ngati Te Ata, we headed out. We first went down the Waiuku River to see the Glenbrook Steel Mill and heard from them about the operations and the upcoming resource consent. Following this, we went up the Waiuku Channel, past Clarks Beach township, and alongside the Awhitu Peninsula, looking at the cliff erosion that creates significant sediment loadings into the harbour. We then went across to Cornwallis Peninsula and headed back directly across the harbour.

On the trip we heard about the CREST project, a community conservation project that aims to protect coastal wildlife along the coastline from Clarks Beach to Karaka; Te Korowai o Papatūānuku, a 1 Billion Trees project on Āwhitu; Healthy Waters Water Quality work programmes in the Franklin area; issues with sedimentation at public wharves and boat ramps; fish, seaweed and shellfish stock in the harbour; long term economic redevelopment of the harbour including the potential for a frequent ferry from Onehunga to Clarks Beach; establishment of cycle and walking tracks along the harbour’s foreshore; development of a marine facility at Kahawai Point and a Manuka planting plan for Awhitu Peninsula.

During the trip, Jim Jackson and Ian Ruthe raised concerns about non-functioning navigational markers on the harbour and I subsequently raised this with Auckland Transport. Interestingly the lights in the Wairopa channel are ‘owned’ by Panuku since purchasing the port but are maintained by AT. Liquigas own the lights in the Papakura channel and it was raised that these also have issues that are being looked into. 

This has been a long-sought for trip and was vital for the Forum members and high-level Council staff to get a feeling for being on the harbour and seeing a side of it many of us don’t usually get to see. We all have our connections to different parts of the harbour and being able to experience it through a new lens was a great opportunity.

The southern Local Boards were invited to a hui with Ngāti Tamaoho, looking at their successes and goals for the future. We were lucky enough to have Ted Ngataki share his vision for restoring the Pahurehure Inlet and Manukau Harbour beyond it. We had some great discussion around the role mana whenua have in caring for the harbour and the need for Council to involve them in decision making. Our Auckland published a story reporting on the day which included a quote from me as chair of the Forum.

I met with Panuku’s Onehunga Wharf team to have a high-level conversation around plans for the wharf in the near future. It was interesting to learn about all the different interests involved in the wharf, and how projects that may happen in the future affect the plans for the wharf – with the East-West Link playing a large role in discussions. Although there were no formal plans to show, the priority for Panuku is opening up public access to the wharf in the near future, as well as working on developing the coastal walkway with mana whenua. We all agreed that having access to the water from the wharf would be a great asset for the harbour in future.

The ‘State of the harbour’ report for the Manukau Harbour is due to be released on July 1st and will provide a clear picture of the environmental state of the harbour, allowing us to advocate for more investment in fixing the issues identified. I haven’t had the opportunity to read it prior to filing this report, but I look forward to its release and the broader discussions we have about the harbour resulting from its release.

I have also been involved in my usual volunteer activities with Friends of Wairaki Stream, working to improve the health of this stream which discharges into the Manukau at Lynfield Cove.

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