The “Synthesis of State of the Environment Monitoring in the Manukau Harbour” report was published at the end of June. The report provides a reliable data set to refer to in our advocacy around improving the Harbour, based on data going back to 1965.
The report confirms that the Manukau has been degraded due to decades of human activity surrounding the Harbour. Massive deforestation over the course of human occupation, high levels of nitrates in the horticultural flatlands, high levels of sediment runoff in the Northern Harbour and along the Awhitu peninsula, high levels of zinc and copper runoff from roads in the catchment, high level of pest plants and animals, and degraded streams feeding into the Harbour all contribute to a degraded ecosystem.
The report shows that there have been improvements in water quality and air quality; however, these are primarily minor improvements, starting from a low level. Coastal water quality in the Harbour is the worst in Auckland, and I believe this should be reflected in the investment allocated by Governing Body. Thankfully, the Harbour has some great swimming spots which can be seen on https://www.safeswim.org.nz/ but there are also a high number of unswimmable beaches.
The report will be published yearly from here on, and we have asked that the next iteration include an analysis of fish stocks based on the data gathered by MPI.
The report outlines much of the work being done by the Council to improve the Harbour, and it has been heartening to see the support from Councillors to improve the Harbour. To ramp up addressing the issues around the Harbour will require investment from Central Government, with potential regulatory changes needed down the line. I would like to see a stocktake of the volunteer work being done around the Harbour, although it would probably double the size of the report!
There is a need for a restoration plan for the Harbour’s ecosystem, one developed in partnership with mana whenua and looking at all of the avenues we can take to rehabilitate the ecosystem, including looking at how we manage contaminants entering the catchment on land.
At our last workshop, we had an update from Sophia Olo-Whaanoa and Kowhai Olsen from Makaurau Marae on the excellent work they have done around the Oruarangi Creek and the Harbour itself. We also finalised the budget for the next financial year, with confirmation of funding for our co-ordinator, a comms plan, mana whenua hui and the youth sustainability wananga that has been very successful.