2021 Annual Report

I am writing this introduction in January 2022, on a sweltering day after enjoying a swim and time in the park. It is great to be out and about with people again, enjoying everything our city has to offer. There is a sense of relief among all Aucklanders, having gone through some tough times during the Covid-enforced lockdown. My thanks go out to everyone who played their part, especially the frontline staff who kept the city running. Having Covid return has placed a spanner in many of the works we had planned this year, but I am proud of what we have managed to achieve and hope you enjoy reading my report summarising the year’s work.

Dawn on Puketāpapa

This year, I was honoured to be supported by the board to step into the Deputy Chairperson role, following Harry Doig’s decision to step down from the position. Harry has done an excellent job as both Chair and Deputy Chair over the past four years, and it has been great to have his support over the last 8 months. I had the misfortune of having to accept the nomination while at home on the computer due to a bad bike accident going down Hendry Avenue. Little did I know at the time that I would be spending a lot more time on Skype in the second half of the year!

Joined by Councillor Cathy Casey.

My role as the Deputy has been very interesting and a big step up in time and effort. There is an additional full day of meetings, which see Chair Fairey and I meeting with staff, nutting out issues prior to the workshops, and getting updates on a range of problems occurring across the Council. We also meet with representatives from Community Facilities, Auckland Transport, Connected Communities, Communications, and other arms of Council to ensure things are progressing well. Every week has meetings on other days held with constituents, staff, other local boards or the Governing Body. The latter meetings have been a great insight into the running of Council and the issues faced across the city, with the development of the 2022 Annual Budget the most recent example.

I also stepped up as we went into lockdown to awhi/support Julie over the difficult period. Over the course of lockdown, I chaired workshops and business meetings, triaged emails and represented the board at a range of different meetings.

This year I have organised my report into the six outcome areas outlined in our Local Board Plan. One of the benefits of doing this for me was seeing how the work we do often fits into multiple outcomes. First of all though, a brief update on my role as chair of the Manukau Harbour Forum.

Highlights of the year for the Forum included attending the Young Leaders Sustainability Wananga at Ambury Farm, hearing from students who are involved in environmental projects to protect and improve the harbour; a field trip on the Manukau Harbour on the boat Ratahi, where we toured the Waiuku River, Waiuku Channel, Awhitu Peninsula and across to Cornwallis; a visit to Ngāti Tamaoho’s offices where Ted Ngataki shared with us his vision for restoring the Pahurehure inlet; hearing from Makaurau marae about the excellent mahi they have done in Oruarangi and the harbour; welcoming our new coordinator Julie Chambers; and the release of the State of the Harbour report in June. This report confirms the state of degradation in the harbour, but reported some positive trends. We will use this in our advocacy for increased spending on restoring the harbour, with the long term goal of a restoration plan developed with mana whenua, scientists, community members and council organisations.

Cornwallis Wharf

Sadly this year, there have been several deaths in the harbour, and our end-of-year report included advice from Water Safety NZ on keeping safe in the harbour. One of the forum’s goals is to highlight the recreational values of the harbour, but an essential part of that is respecting the at-times dangerous nature of the Moana.

Over the next year we will be looking at how we can better work with mana whenua around the harbour, communicating with the public, running the youth wananga and continuing to advocate for the harbour at Governing Body and externally.

Outcome 1: Inclusive communities that are healthy, connected and thriving

This year has been a tough one for the community groups we work with, who have seen long-planned events had to be cancelled or shifted online while doing their best to support members of the community and keep us thriving. Their work includes running foodbanks, delivering shopping, translating, helping people access services to survive, running vaccination events, creating content for people to enjoy and much more. Thank you to all these groups for the hard work you do for the people of Puketāpapa and beyond. This year we funded a range of community groups – including Urdu Hindi, Scottish Celtic Music, Roskill Chinese Group, Environmental Groups, Number 3 Roskill Theatre Trust, Bhartiya Samaj and many more through our grant programmes. All of the groups we work with – whether through funding or just support – do great work to bring our community together.

A Puketāpapa Community Network meeting

The Puketāpapa community network really took off in 2021 thanks to the hard work of Zena Wrigley. It was great getting together with representatives of groups working in Puketāpapa and sharing information and korero. One of the highlight events for me was the event at Auckland United Football Club co-hosted with Auckland Emergency Management. I hadn’t really thought about the role our institutions can play in an emergency, and look forward to the further development of an emergency plan for Puketāpapa. Sadly, the lockdown meant the network has been unable to meet since August.

We managed to get some events in this year, with highlights being the kite day on Puketāpapa as part of Matariki, a night market at Wesley and the World of Cultures festival. The latter half of the year saw us having to cancel some events, and we remain hopeful that in 2022 we can return to hosting events safely for all.

Waikōwhai Intermediate principal David King was one of the first to try out the flying fox!

This outcome also looks at our community facilities, and it was great to be able to ‘reopen’ the new Keith Hay Park playground. Waikōwhai Intermediate provided beautiful waiata, and Papa Fred Holloway blessed the completed works and sang us a waiata of his own. This project was long overdue, and was the only slice of capital expenditure we had to spend in the 2020 work programme.

Staying within Keith Hay Park, it was a privilege to be invited to the opening of the Auckland United clubrooms. With support from Auckland Council, a massive community fundraising effort means we now have potentially the best clubrooms in Auckland in our area. It was great getting down there and watching the men’s and women’s teams play until the season was cut short due to the lockdown.

A full crowd down at the clubrooms.

Works also continued on repairs and upgrades to the Lynfield Community Centre, Cameron Pools, the track to Wesley Bay and other miscellaneous items. Sadly the track in Belfast Reserve has not been reopened, despite us asking for it to be prioritised. It is an expensive and challenging piece of work, and we will be getting an update on it in the new year. Reopening the top track will mean Goodall and Belfast street are reconnected and that members of the public will be able to access the beautiful bush in the reserve.

Outcome 2: Our people speak up and help shape our future

One of the absolute highlights in this outcome was the continued development of the Integrated area plan the board is developing in partnership with Albert-Eden and mana whenua representatives. This plan will guide the development of a well-defined area that will see massive development over the next 30 years. We have done an initial public engagement on the draft, worked with CCO’s like AT and Watercare, Kāinga Ora and Transpower, and have developed it over the year in monthly sessions where we share the table with mana whenua representatives. Usually, council documents are presented as a nearly complete document to mana whenua to give feedback on, instead, this process has allowed the development of the plan the whole way through. We have had lots of great korero and built some excellent relationships throughout the process.

We have also continued working with our partnership groups Roskill Chinese Group, Somalian Education and Development Trust, Global Hope Missions and the Puketāpapa Youth foundation to ensure council consultations reach a wider audience than the usual respondents, and this is reflected in the demographics of submissions from our board area. Unfortunately, lockdown in the second half of the year made this a lot more complicated.

The board also submits on behalf of our constituents on central government submissions such as Three Waters, the Emissions Reduction Plan, the National Policy Statement on Urban Development and many more. It has been a year full of rapid turnarounds for this – often, we will have a week to put our feedback together in time to have it included in the Council’s submission. Many thanks to the staff on the local board who have helped us put these together.

We also feedback on Council policy documents, such as the Age-Friendly City work, Freedom Camping Bylaw, advertising bylaw and many more. One really disappointing outcome in this space was the sale of AIMS, the council owned company that worked in our community facilities. I am a firm believer that core services like this shouldn’t be contracted out, and all of the local boards affected submitted against the proposal. We can only hope that the new company is committed to paying the living wage for staff and providing a good outcome for residents rather than focusing on their bottom line.

Outcome 3: Our environment is protected and enhanced for present and future generations

Eel in Te Auaunga/Oakley Creek

This outcome is one I always have front of mind, and one I am constantly trying to address through our work programme, grants, business as usual programmes and submissions to the governing body and central government. Within our rohe, we signed off on the Urban Ngahere plan, which analyses the tree cover of Puketāpapa, analyses gaps, and provides guidance on where we should focus funding for street and park trees. Our forest cover is relatively high compared to many other boards, sitting at 20 percent. However, this is skewed by the Waikowhai Coast and Monte Cecilia, and we have some areas with extremely low tree cover, particularly Wesley. Street trees provide many benefits, including carbon capture and improving amenity. Sadly, there is usually a direct link between areas of high deprivation and lack of street trees.I look forward to this program getting trees into the ground next planting season.

Waikōwhai Park

Although the current hot weather is great for swimming, the news that 2021 was the hottest year on record for Aotearoa is a reminder of the reality of Climate Change. Helping communities adapt to climate change, and trying to reduce our carbon emissions, is a focus of our board. We have funded a Climate Activator who works with community groups and businesses to reduce carbon, as well as assessing what we can be doing better as a board. Our work in transport, intensification, street trees, community gardens and planning all aims to reduce emissions, increase walkability and ensure our community can thrive in the face of ever-increasing temperatures. It can be demoralising in our role seeing decisions get made that lock in carbon emissions but it is important we focus on the good things we can do.

One noticeable effect of lockdown has been the increased prevalence of weeds in areas usually looked after by volunteers. Volunteer groups haven’t been able to get out tend to new plantings as well, so lots of work to be done this summer! Friends of Wairaki Stream managed to get a couple of working days in at the end of the year, mostly releasing the plantings from last year, which were being enveloped by Kikuyu.

The board also funded ecological restoration in Lynfield Reserve and Ramelton Reserve, which involved removing a lot of pest plants and rubbish. Ramelton Reserve was also the site of some great work by our Migrant Volunteer Coordinator, who worked with Conservation Volunteers to get migrants with English as a second language into the environment. Ramelton Reserve really is a ‘hidden gem’ – I’d say most people who live on the street don’t even know it’s there. It is home to a small section of the very rare (in Tāmaki Makaurau) rock forest, a small stream, and some lovely native plants. Hopefully, this work will pick up again in 2022.

Volunteers heading into Ramelton Reserve – check out the Blue Morning Glory 😦

We also fund the eco neighborhoods programme, which gives a small amount of funding to community groups who are doing ecological projects. This year, the star of this programme is the food forest in Molley Green Reserve, known as Tā Tātou Māra Kai. Local resident Rowan Cant has done lots of hard work to get this in place, with the land lease being held by Whenua Warrior, who did an excellent job on the initial setup. This garden will provide food security, reduce waste through composting and build community as the area is redeveloped by Kāinga Ora.

The first working day in Molley Green Reserve.

One area I would like to see a greater focus is on improving the water quality of our awa/rivers, something that mana whenua have constantly highlighted as important in our development of the integrated area plan. Our two main awa are Te Auaunga/Oakley Creek and Wairaki Stream. Te Auaunga runs from Molley Green Reserve all the way to the Waitematā Harbour and ends up being one of the most polluted waterways in Tāmaki Makaurau. I have pushed for increased monitoring along the stream, especially at our end, so we can begin to identify where the pollution enters the creek. Healthy Waters have started an investigation into wastewater overflows into Wairaki Stream, which then end up polluting Lynfield Cove. This is a labour-intensive job, but an important one. It will require the council working with private landowners to clean up any connections that enter the stream.

Rubbish in Te Auaunga.

Outcome 4: Well-planned neighbourhoods

A big part of our work in this area has been the Integrated Area Plan mentioned in Outcome 2. We have worked hard to develop a document that developers, council and central government can use to refer to over the next 30 years. This document will be going out for engagement in early 2022. Some of the significant outcomes I championed were the restoration of waterways, an emphasis on low carbon, increased recognition of heritage in the area and improved active transport networks and links to build on the existing greenway network.

The board also signed off on concept plans for Hillsborough Cemetery and Margaret Griffen Park, as well as a needs assessment for the Three Kings area and an analysis of the playgrounds in the area, which makes recommendations as to future improvements. I have been trying to get these added to the website for ease of downloading, but in the meantime am happy to share with interested members of the public.

A big part of the board’s role in this space has been advocacy to Kāinga Ora. We have regular meetings where we are updated on the works which are coming, the scale of which will be huge for our board. Kāinga Ora have developed an Urban Ngahere strategy which includes an analysis of all the trees that are in Waikowhai, identifying which ones can be kept and which will be removed, and what will replace them. This sprung from their experience in Roskill South, where a lot of the longstanding trees in the neighborhood were removed. They have now covenanted two Puriri trees in Roskill South, meaning these will stand for a long time and provide shelter to the new residents in the area.

Two protected puriri trees.

We all recognise the importance of intensification and providing more houses for people, and Mt Roskill is well placed for this. However, the growing pains of intensification can be really tough, especially for residents who end up surrounded by construction works. We have had year-long road closures, bus disruptions, and noise complaints, and have worked with Watercare, Kāinga Ora, and Piritahi to get these remediated where we can. The next stage for Kāinga Ora will be the Waikowhai neighbourhood – a massive operation that will see the neighbourhood massively changed. It is vital we continue to have the voices of current residents heard while planning for the future.

An essential part of doing intensification right is providing green spaces of different sizes that are walkable for the residents. Freeland Reserve is coming along quickly, the new park on the corner of Burnett and Howell is awaiting signoff from Council internally, and there are proposals for better public spaces around McKinnon Street in Waikowhai. There will be a fair bit of consultation around the future of Molley Green Reserve this year, a park that is really important as it sits very close to the headwaters of Te Auaunga/Oakley Creek.

Outcome 5: Transport options that are reliable, accessible and less polluting

There has been quite a lot of action in the transport space in 2021, a welcome change from last year when many projects were put on hold. Early in the year, I presented to representatives of Waka Kotahi and Auckland Transport as part of the Regional Land Transport Plan. We highlighted that the plan saw emissions rising by 6% and questioned the validity of this in a climate emergency, a view echoed by a number of groups. We advocated for rapid transit down Dominion Road, an investigation into the Southdown-Avondale rail connection, a significant increase into active transport funding with a focus on the cycle network prioritised by Auckland Transport’s future connect, for urgent work on the Hendry Ave/Queenstown Road cycle network and an increase in the footpath repair budget. Not all of these requests were successful, but it was great to see an extra $20 million for new footpaths.

We were unable to get the Queenstown road project reinstated into the RLTP after it disappeared from the previous iteration, but after an OIA request from me about this, we were surprised by a raised pseudo-crossing on Queenstown Road by Waka Kotahi. The plan is that this will be gazetted as a crossing following data collection by AT. This should make this crossing, on a crucial part of Auckland’s cycle network, a lot safer.

There have been a number of small projects completed in our area: the Arundel street roundabout, broken yellow lines on Hillsborough Road, the first stage of a safer Greenway network through from Mt Roskill Grammar to Monte Cecilia Park, safety works outside Wesley Primary, some of the May Road pedestrian improvement works, and wayfinding signage for cyclists painted on the footpath. The last project was one I managed to get for the Local Board thanks to a tipoff about funding available from Waka Kotahi. Ideally we will get some physical signage in the future, but I have had a few positive comments about these already.

Freshly installed

A lot of planning and consultation took place this year, most notably for the Mt Roskill Safer Routes part 2, which will see Dornwell Road made a one-way entry, additional pedestrian crossings and safer facilities for cycling. This intersection is a high-risk one with several serious crashes in recent years and a vital link to the schools. The main theme in the consultation feedback was “where is the cycling infrastructure?” and Auckland Transport has taken this on board and is coming back with an improved plan. The climate action plan, Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri sets a goal of having 7% of trips taken by cycling, and to do that we need to be building that infrastructure into every project.

One potentially massive project that was consulted on this year is the rapid transit route from the city centre to the airport. The project will be huge for our area, with either of the proposed routes running through Puketāpapa and alongside SH20. Many people in Mt Roskill commute to the airport precinct and into the central city, so our board has supported bringing light rail back for a long time. Julie stepped aside from any discussions on the project to avoid any perceived conflict of interest and I represented the board at the local board meetings looking at the project. We supported an at-grade (street level) project as it provides lots of opportunities to improve neighbourhoods, costs less, and serves more people. We also supported ensuring businesses were compensated during works, improved active transport connections, and ended up favouring a Sandringham Road route to connect through to the intensification coming in Wesley. We wait to see what the decision made by cabinet will be.

Next year we should also see the roundabout built at the Hillsborough Road/Commodore drive intersection, new pedestrian crossings on Hayr Road, Hillsborough Road near Goodall and by Waikōwhai Primary, Denbigh Avenue, Stoddard Road, and Pah Road. Making it easier for people to get around by foot is a crucial part of making this a great city to live in, and these small projects will make a big difference. We have also been briefed on the plans for fixing/upgrading footpaths, and I look forward to these taking place – particularly on Hillsborough and Dominion Road, both of which are well past their use-by date.

A footpath beside Dominion road, our main arterial road.

I worked with our strategic broker and Richard from PATH to put together our application for the Regional Streets for People programme. If our application is successful, we will get $300,000 for the local board to run an intensive program working with schools to put on bike trains, run events, and look at infrastructure challenges over a three year period. Our safe cycle network links up 10 different schools, and increasing the number of students cycling, scootering and walking will be a great outcome for health, the environment, and traffic congestion. We find out early in 2022 whether or not we will be successful.

Outcome 6: Thriving local economy with opportunities to learn, work and volunteer

This outcome has come to the fore during the latest Covid lockdown. Auckland Council has provided some great programmes for local businesses, and our board has funded small business programmes such as a mentor programme, social enterprise development, youth employment schemes and are working with a fledgling business group.

Auckland Council put out a report in 2020 looking at the effects of Covid, and one of the recommendations was an increase in environmental volunteer groups. The report found a return of $3.14 for every dollar spent on these volunteer groups. Our board puts aside $30,000 directly for environmental volunteers, as well as the eco neighborhood work mentioned in Outcome 5. This allows for tree planting, pest control, stream cleaning, rubbish removal and care for our environment, all while bringing people of all types together.

Volunteers were behind the well-run and very successful vaccination days at Wesley Community Centre. Multiple groups collaborated to help raise the number of vaccinated people in Wesley, which was one of the lowest vaccinated regions in Central Auckland. Both days were lots of fun and everything went smoothly.

The cool carpark team on the second day of the vaccine drive.

We fund many community groups through our grants schemes, as well as through targeted programmes, and most of these are run through volunteer labour. These are the groups that hold our community together in tough times, and it is great to be able to make this a focus of our work. It was disappointing our Volunteer awards weren’t able to be held in person this year, but it was great to be able to ring some of the recipients and talk about their mahi. Congratulations and thank you to Peter Leilua, Yinling Tsang, Kathy Neilson, Dianne McCarthy, Canute D’Souza, Lionel and Aoto’a Teleaga, Michael Howell, Issy Lim, Doreen Wakefield and Malcolm Rundle.

We continue to contribute extra funds to our Mt Roskill library out of our discretionary funding, and they do an awesome job helping out our community. They were one of the first libraries open back after the lockdown, and they were swamped with requests! They also run lots of events, hold language classes, provide internet access, and help people out with all manner of issues– all with a great attitude.

2022 marks the final year of my first term on the board. It has certainly been interesting! I have continued working as a teacher, started my masters in Public Policy and volunteer at Owairaka parkrun and Friends of Wairaki Stream. It is an honour to represent the people of Puketāpapa in my work and I look forward to continuing to do so this year. My thanks again to the staff who put in many hours of work to help us do our jobs and to keep working to make Puketāpapa a great place to live. Please feel free to contact me any time, either via email at jon.turner@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz, on my facebook page http://www.facebook.com/jt4plb or give me a call on 0211903734.

Manukau Harbour Forum Chair’s Report July – August 2021

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.

Manukau Harbour Forum Chair’s report: August – September 2021

Manukau Harbour Forum Chair’s report –August 9th – September 24th

  • 11th August – Meeting with new Manukau Harbour Forum Coordinator and MHF Deputy Chair Alan Cole.
  • 20th August – Three Waters Reforms discussion via SKYPE.
  • 30th August – Attended Watercare Board meeting via SKYPE.
  • 30th August – Manukau Harbour Forum executive team meeting via SKYPE.
  • 3rd September – Local Government New Zealand Three Waters reform discussion.
  • 15th September – Environment and Climate Change Committee meeting on the Auckland Water Strategy
  • 22nd September – Environment and Climate Change Committee meeting on the Auckland Water Strategy
  • 24th September – Presenting to the Southern Chairs Forum on behalf of the Forum.

The majority of the period covered by this report was spent in Level 4 Lockdown, reducing the ability to meet in person. I am lucky enough to live close to the Waikōwhai Walkway and have enjoyed numerous bush walks and bird watching over the lockdown period.

The Forum is very lucky to have secured the services of Dr Julie Chambers as the Forum’s new coordinator. Dr Chambers has co-chaired the Tamaki Estuary Environmental Forum and has bought some excellent energy to the role. Julie has five ‘focus areas’ – Strategy and planning to achieve the vision of the Forum, collaboration with friends of the Forum, building the knowledge base of the Forum, building relationships with mana whenua and administration. I look forward to working with her over the next year.

I was pleased to be able to connect members of the community with the correct council staff to get navigation lights in the Harbour fixed. These lights have an interesting list of owners, with a mix of private and public ownership, meaning a fix is not always easy.

I wrote an article discussing the State of the Harbour report for Clarks Beach’s “Greenie” magazine’s August issue. This has been well received, and I have opened up dialogue with several interested community members who share our passion for protecting and restoring the Manukau Harbour.

I was, unfortunately, unable to attend August’s meeting of the Manukau Harbour Forum due to a family emergency. There was a presentation on the excellent youth wananga programme the Forum part-funds and the “closing the gap” programme aimed at reducing sediment into the environment from construction across Tāmaki Makaurau.

I presented an update to the Southern Local Board Chairs Forum on the Forum’s Work Programme and the highlights of the first half of the term.

The Three Waters reform could have big effects on how water is managed around the Harbour, particularly the inclusion of stormwater into the reform. Healthy Waters have been doing some excellent work, and we await more information on the proposed reform. The discussions I attended on it reveal the work that needs to be done to get this to a place I would feel comfortable supporting.

Jon Turner (Puketāpapa Local Board)

Chair of the Manukau Harbour Forum

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.

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.

Manukau Harbour Forum Chair’s Report November 2020- January 2021

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