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Kaipara Uri, councils welcome government funding

5 Jul 2020, 2:30 PM

Joint media release

Kaipara Uri and councils have welcomed the government’s announcement of $100 million in funding to help restore Kaipara Moana, through a cross-regional programme that is expected to create 300 jobs.

The $100 million in funding for ‘Kaipara Moana Remediation’ was announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on 5 July. It has been welcomed as a critical turning point by those championing the proposed scheme – the Uri (descendants) affiliated to Kaipara Moana, and the four councils.

A business case for government funding was made last October by Kaipara Uri through the Kaipara Moana Negotiations Reference Group (with representatives from Te Uri o Hau, Te Roroa, Ngā Maunga Whakahī o Kaipara, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, and Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whātua), and the local authorities with combined jurisdiction over the 950 square kilometre Moana and its catchment. The latter are Auckland Council, Northland Regional Council, Kaipara District Council and Whangarei District Council.

Tame Te Rangi, from the Kaipara Moana Negotiations Reference Group, said that at its heart the ambitious scheme aims to improve the health of the Moana by a partnership between mana whenua and councils, working with local communities including landowners and the farming sector, to halve sediment loss from the land.

Sediment, or eroded soil, is a ‘catch-all’ pollutant that carries with it other contaminants. Programme partners say addressing sediment will offer a raft of benefits: improved freshwater quality, greater biodiversity, resilience from climate change, and carbon sequestration through tree-planting and wetland management.

Northland Regional Council Chair Penny Smart said around 300 much-needed new jobs could be generated as the nation focuses on its collective recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s estimated about 200 new jobs will be needed for direct work on farms – fencing, water reticulation of streams and wetlands, preparing and planting land, weeding, and hill country stabilisation. Another 100 jobs will be required in the rural sector for nurseries, fencing manufacture, and farm advisory services.”

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said he welcomed the funding.

“This contribution meets an urgent environmental need for Kaipara Moana, which has been badly damaged by decades of siltation. The harbour is an important fish breeding area and there is a need to stop further damage and to repair the ecosystem,” said Mayor Goff.

“The government funding of $100 million is the biggest step that has ever been taken to help mitigate that damage and dramatically reduce sediment flowing into the harbour.

“The remediation programme now needs commitment by regional bodies, marae and hapū, landowners, and the community to make restoration of the harbour a reality.

“In 2018, Auckland Council set aside in its 10-year Budget funding from the Water Quality Targeted Rate, of which $10 million is proposed to be spent on this specific project over six years. This money has been ring-fenced and would not represent new spending by the council. This of course has to be reconfirmed by councillors through the 10-year Budget process next year.”

Kaipara District Council Mayor Dr Jason Smith said for the many communities and marae that sit next to the Moana – who have witnessed the loss of taonga (treasured) species, encroachment of mangrove forests and an overall decline in fisheries and shellfish over decades – the programme cannot start soon enough.

Willie Wright, from the Integrated Kaipara Harbour Management Group, said the same outcome of a healthy and productive Moana is sought by everyone: “by iwi and hapū, by farmers, by our many land-care and community groups, by councils, by industry groups, and by the government.”

“We’re on this journey together. Many have been working hard already to improve the environment as best they can, and with this newly-announced and very welcome government funding we can now do what we’ve collectively been wanting to do for years,” says Mr Wright.

Councillor Phil Halse from the Whangarei District Council said: “The new central government funding removes some of the basic economic barriers that have prevented landowners, regional bodies, and marae and hapū from a large-scale collective effort to remediate the health of the Moana and its many streams and rivers. This is a significant step forward.”

Mr Te Rangi said that for environmental remediation to be truly effective for the Moana, it needs to be targeted and done at scale.

“While we tend to over-estimate what can be achieved in a year, we under-estimate what can be achieved in 10 years, which is why government’s contribution for the first six years of the 10-year remediation programme is so important.”

The programme’s partners have been at pains to avoid a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, are conscious of cost (especially in the current climate), and plan to work closely with landowners, sector representative groups and others to prioritise actions.

Chair Smart agrees, as it enables the work to be done and the associated costs spread over a number of years.

“The remediation programme offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a real difference to the iconic nature of Kaipara Moana for current and successive generations,” said Mr Te Rangi.


Background

  • Kaipara Moana (Kaipara Harbour) and its catchment straddles two regional boundaries – Northland Regional and Auckland Council – as well as two district councils, Kaipara and Whangarei.
  • Kaipara Moana is the largest harbour in New Zealand, with a surface area of 950km2 at high tide, and is the receiving environment for a catchment of around 6000km2.
  • There is about 3710km2 of pastoral land in the Kaipara catchment, with 8110km2 of waterways on pastoral land.
  • The Kaipara Moana Negotiations Reference Group was established in 2017 by Te Uri o Hau, Te Roroa, Ngā Maunga Whakahii o Kaipara, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, and Te Runanga o Ngāti Whātua, to coordinate engagement with the Crown over matters relating to the Kaipara Moana. Collectively these groups refer to themselves as ‘Kaipara Uri’ (‘descendants of the Kaipara), when engaging together on matters relating to the Moana and its catchment.
  • In August 2014, Te Uri o Hau, Te Roroa, Ngā Maunga Whakahī o Kaipara, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, and Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whātua signed the Kaipara Moana Framework Agreement with the Crown. This was followed in August 2017 by an Agreement in Principle. Through these agreements the Crown has committed to establishing a statutory co-governance body for Kaipara Moana, which will have membership from iwi/hapū and councils. Negotiations to finalise this are underway.
  • The $100 million of environmental remediation funding now set aside by the government is not part of a Treaty settlement.