Thursday, 29 October 2020 11:28

$300m to clean up harbour

Written by  Staff Reporters
The Northland Regional Council says landowners and community groups are already working to improve the environment, but resourcing has been a constant struggle. The Northland Regional Council says landowners and community groups are already working to improve the environment, but resourcing has been a constant struggle.

A $300 million project has been signed to try and prevent sediment loss from land to sea at Kaipara Harbour.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the government, councils and Kaipara residents recognises an equal partnership between iwi and councils to undertake the Kaipara Moana Remediation Programme.

The programme is predicted to create around 300 new jobs; 200 for direct farm work such as fencing streams and wetlands, establishing water reticulation systems, preparing and planting land, weeding, and hill country stabilisation, and another 100 in the rural sector for nurseries, fencing manufacture, and farm advisory services.

Minister for the Environment David Parker signed the agreement with stakeholders this month.

Joint governance committee chair Tame Te Rangi says the committee will oversee a yet-to-be established entity charged with delivery of the 10-year Kaipara Moana Remediation Programme.

“One of our first priorities will be deciding the spend for the programme’s first year. 

“We know there are many strands of the programme that are ready to go now, and these are what we’ll concentrate on first.

“We’re effectively carving out new history – this type of programme has never been done before – so it’s important we get the right logistics and processes in place and balance that with urgent action to give the harbour the help it needs.”

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff describes the agreement as a turning point for the restoration of the Kaipara Harbour.

“It represents all parties coming together to address the siltation and degradation of the Kaipara and the biggest-ever commitment of funds to remediate that damage,” he says.

“It’s a shared commitment to stop the erosion of the land which is devastating New Zealand’s largest harbour, and to begin to restore and preserve the harbour as a major fish-spawning and recreational asset,” Goff says.

Northland Regional Council Chair (and deputy chair of the joint committee) Penny Smart says it is important to recognise that landowners and community groups are already working to improve the environment, but resourcing has been a constant struggle. 

The new government funding of $100 million for the first six years will help bring us together and enable large-scale and targeted progress to be made, Smart says.

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Restoring our freshwater systems

OPINION: When I started writing this piece, I was sitting in my Kaiapoi office on a sweltering 30-degree summer’s day, and I could hear faint “plops” as youngsters pulled “phat manus” and “bombs” off the bridge into the Kaiapoi River as generations before them have done.

Do they know that the river is deemed “unsuitable” for swimming with E. coli levels of up to 2,420 per 100ml? This information is available on LAWA’s website, Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) - Can I swim here? It makes for sobering reading. With levels this high, we should supply these youngsters with full PPE gear to wear over their shorts. The saddest fact is that this story is repeating itself from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

We are witnessing the systemic collapse of New Zealand’s freshwater systems as our environment can no longer handle the extreme pressure we have placed on it through decades of urban and rural intensification. We have taken too much from our environment and we must start giving back.

Change is coming with a renewed focus on healthy waterways through the National Policy for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM), which the Government announced in August 2020, as well as Plan Change 7 to the Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan (PC7), which progressed through submissions and a hearing in front of independent hearing commissioners last year.

I attended the PC7 hearing in December and it boosted my spirits to observe the passion our community has for improving Waimakariri’s waterways. I hope the changes that come out of PC7 will be bold and far reaching.

The concept of Te Mana o te Wai underpins the NPS-FM and places the highest value on the health of freshwater systems. This philosophy is the new basis for how we, as a society, interact with our environment. The NPS-FM creates a framework for change, but we must also change how we think as council bodies, as communities, as businesses, and as individuals about how our systems/practices must shift from productive growth mode to sustainability mode, and how we can live within an acceptable environmental footprint. On an individual level, we need to realise how, over the long term, that wet paddock or riverbed block would benefit the planet if it were left to revert to a wetland or a more natural state.

This year the Waimakariri Water Zone Committee will focus on priority areas and working with the community to improve our waterways.

We will support change through three newlyformed catchment groups – the Sefton Saltwater Creek Catchment Group, the Landcare Working Group, and the Biodiversity Group.

We are ahead of the curve in Waimakariri in terms of engaging with farmers, waterway conservation groups and the wider community, but we still have a long journey ahead to restore our rivers and streams.

We must work together in a united way to leave our land and water for future generations to inherit in a better state than when we found it.

Whatungarongaro te tangata, toitū te whenua - As man disappears from sight, the land remains.

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