Manukau Harbour Forum


Advocating for a collective response  

The Manukau Harbour is New Zealand’s second-largest harbour and the Manukau Harbour Forum believes that it should be recognised alongside the Waitemata and Kaipara Harbours and the Hauraki Gulf and accorded the same vision, protection and resources.

The key role of the Manukau Harbour Forum joint committee is to collectively advocate for improvement and restoration of the wellbeing of the Manukau Harbour and the adjacent foreshore on behalf of the communities it represents. The Forum provides a vital link between stakeholders and the governing body of the Auckland Council at both a governance and operational level. The forum advocates not only to the council’s governing body but also to its own local boards, and to the wider community.

The Forum is in the early stages of its journey, and the benefits of such an alliance will include:

  • early identification of and response to emerging issues
  • a more cohesive approach to common problems
  • greater efficiency and effectiveness of planning and interventions.

Already the Forum has demonstrated its advocacy role in planning matters by submitting feedback to the Auckland Plan, the Unitary Plan, the Manukau Regional Pest Management Plan Review, the Manukau Harbour Consolidated Receiving Environment Stormwater Priorities Consultation and the Biodiversity Management Plan for Manukau’s Coastal Reserves Network.

‘We need to ensure that the Manukau Harbour Forum becomes a powerful voice for the health and wellbeing of the harbour. It will take time to build our influence and ensure our voice is heard. We need to become the go-to group to talk about Manukau Harbour and foreshore issues.’
- Michael Wood, MHF member (Puketapapa Local Board representative)


Strategic Approach

In the first instance the MHF will be strongly advocating in two key areas:

  • Hydrodynamic Modelling Study - this is a detailed study of how water and sediment moves around the harbour. It will enable contamination to be tracked to its source, and the spread of pollution to be more closely monitored. Pollution could include waste water run-off, heavy metals, stormwater run-off and nutrients to sediments and other contaminants of concern (highway and rural run-off). This study will provide city and organisational governance with information about where action needs to be taken in specific catchment areas.
  • The data from the modelling study will inform the development of a long-term Marine Spatial Plan. Developing the plan would also require detailed scientific, local and Maori knowledge to provide a vision for the Manukau Harbour to help safeguard the taonga now and for future generations. A Marine Spatial Plan similar in nature and scope to the Hauraki Gulf Seachange Project will determine:
    • which activities might take place and where
    • what areas and values are important and how to safeguard them
    • options to meet future needs.

Actions flowing from a Marine Spatial Plan will include:

  • improving water quality
  • improving the ecological health of the Manukau Harbour
  • increasing shellfish availability and providing greater access to the harbour for recreational users.


Areas of concern and influence

The Manukau Harbour Forum is tasked with championing the improvement and restoration of the Manukau Harbour. This involves collectively contributing to strategies and outcomes that enhance the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of the harbour.

The Manukau Harbour Forum believes there is an opportunity to deliver collective, cohesive intervention that will prevent pollution from continuing to occur in the Manukau Harbour. Issues to be addressed by the Forum under its terms of reference may include:

  • The role of mana whenua in relation to the Manukau Harbour
  • Water quality
  • A unified management approach to the Manukau Harbour
  • Advocacy for both natural and human activities affecting the harbour foreshore
  • Wastewater and stormwater discharges
  • The strategic removal of mangroves and Pacific oysters
  • Coastal erosion mitigation opportunities
  • The enhancement of marine and coastal habitats that assist with increased biodiversity
  • The preservation of sustainable commercial and recreational fisheries within the harbour
  • Catchments and tributary streams that flow into the harbour
  • Access to the harbour
  • The role of the port operation at Onehunga.

Key risks to the Manukau Harbour reflect a mix of issues:

  • The effects of past and future unchecked growth of industry, transport and habitation around the harbour.
  • Disposal of wastewater from 1.4 million Auckland residents.
  • Accidental discharges from industrial accidents causing long-term damage.
  • General land use (farming, forestry, cropping, industry).
  • Unfiltered run-off from old zinc roofs, roads and carparks
  • Water quality – the poor health of the Manukau Harbour resulting from decades of heavy pollution.
  • Lack of investment in restoration projects over many years.
  • Stormwater contamination, sewage overflow and commercial land use run-off.
  • Impact of the Central Interceptor tunnel that emerges at Onehunga.
  • Mangere and Manurewa harbour borders are overgrown with mangroves. Access is an issue. These areas are not looked after and often resemble wastelands. They are treated as rubbish dumps by some locals.
  • The need to build a strong regulatory framework for controlling discharge into the harbour from rural, industry and residential sources.
  • The need for integrated management of the Manukau Harbour.
  • The need to educate the community that cumulatively its activities are having a big impact on the harbour and to change attitudes and behaviour.

‘I can’t overstate how important the waterways are for our mostly Pacific community,’ says Lotu Fuli, MHF member, Otara Papatoetoe local board. ‘The harbour is a taonga, life source, food bowl, shelter for marine life, for bird life and for our people. When the harbour is not healthy it affects our people’s ability to source shellfish and have fun on the water. There’s much untapped potential in the harbour. We absolutely have to make sure it’s safe, healthy and clean. This is a priority for our board.’

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