Fighting for the Manukau Harbour

One of the Manukau Harbour’s beautiful beaches.

A group of concerned locals got together in 2011 and started the Manukau Harbour Restoration Society.

ave you heard of them? Before starting research on the health of the Manukau Harbour, I hadn’t.

After a bit of investigation, I was surprised to learn what they do, and how passionate they are about getting the harbour back to its original water quality and environmental state.

Jim Jackson and Bronwen Turner are the chair and deputy chair persons of MHRS, which is a membership organisation and a registered charity.

Both Jim and Bronwen grew up on the Manukau Harbour

I have an affinity for this place,” says Jim.

“I know the area intimately and I love it. ” But the objectives of the society are not just water quality and the harbour’s environmental state.

HRS is also here to represent all communities and organisations that border and are influenced by the harbour, to recognise sensitivities and aspirations of the Manu Whenua, to prevent pollution, and to establish recreational access and navigational aids for the harbour.

They also aim to establish a Manukau Harbour Authority with responsibility for maintaining the harbour and its facilities and to enable the harbour to become a recreational asset to the city of Auckland.

Ponder this…Jim Jackson: Watercare’s Mangere treatment plant releases the equivalent of 20,000 10-tonne truck loads of treated wastewater into the harbour every day.

And while one could argue that this is okay because it’s treated, it’s been discharging at Puketutu Island for over 50 years and its apparent that freshwater is affecting the natural salinity of the seawater.

We’re told the tidal movement takes 12 days to shift the water from the Puketutu outlet to the Tasman Sea.

So it’s in the harbour for quite a while - certainly long enough to change the composition of the seawater. ” What are they doing?With a focus on water quality, access and infrastructure, management, and changing attitudes and the way decisions are made by the Auckland Council, MHRS have been keeping themselves very busy.

They opposed the Central interceptor - a pipeline bringing Waitemata’s storm and wastewater over and into the Manukau Harbour.

They then appealed this decision, and negotiated terms for tighter controls on emergency discharges into the harbour.

Bronwen is very strong on this matter, saying: “Our top priority is water quality, and we have been pretty active on this.

“We believe that urban wastewater and stormwater discharges are degrading the harbour’s water.

It’s not acceptable anymore to think that you’re just going to stick it into the harbour. ” A hydrodynamic model of the Manukau Harbour is now under development by NIWA on behalf of Watercare.

This will show every aspect of the harbour, sandbanks, tide levels, currents and harbour floor.

Events such as rain, stormwater and wastewater will be introduced into this sophisticated and complex model, and will hopefully give a clearer understanding of issues like sedimentation and nutrients in the harbour.

“It’s not a case of asking ‘is Watercare complying with their consent?’ We’re not questioning that.

That we question is, what effect will those discharges on our harbour?” says Bronwen.

Ponder this…MHRS: “Why are our fish stocks declining? ARC documents showed that only two per cent of the snapper in our west coast fisheries is coming out of the Manukau, and 98 per cent coming out of Kaipara.

Why is that? Our harbours are similar.

That’s happening to our fish stocks? Is it illegal fisheries, lack of enforcement, sedimentation, water quality? Is it freshwater discharges coming out of Mangere? We want to find out. ”Why is this important?It is not known at this point what the effect of continuous freshwater discharges have on the shallow, tidal harbour.

Jim Jackson believes that habitats have been compromised in certain areas and marine life has moved away.

“There are places where the birds no longer feed,” says Jim.

This, he believes, is due to the saltwater crabs that have moved away and are no longer able to live in the freshwater conditions.

“There are sewer overflow pipes which, during heavy downpours, discharge directly into the harbour because Auckland Council’s stormwater system has not been separated from the sewer system,” he adds

It’s so bad that when the Onehunga foreshore was being rebuilt, Watercare insisted we remove a sandy beach and replace it with rocks to prevent people from using it because of the overflows. ”A consent application is currently with council for a wastewater pipeline that will be discharged into the Waiuku channel of the Manukau Harbour.

This will be on the seabed out from the Clarks Beach golf course, discharged on the outgoing tide, and consented for 35 years.

Ponder this…MHRS: “The Manukau Harbour is the most important habitat for shore birds in NZ.

In our backyard we have an incredible inventory of birds.

Every spring and fall they gather here for their annual migrations.

The 2011 summer census figures of shorebirds by the Ornithological Society strengthened the importance of this, by revealing the following figures: Manukau Harbour 26,171, Kaipara Harbour 20,488, Farewell Spit 17,323, Tauranga – Maketu 10,536, Firth of Thames 9,803.

What can you do to help?Start by checking out The Manukau Harbour Restoration Society web site at: www.

hrs.

rg.

z as well as their Facebook page.

Like the Friends of The Manukau Harbour Facebook page, and check out The Onehunga Enhancement Society (TOES).

These are all groups trying their best to give the harbour an independent voice, bringing awareness to the issues of the harbour and their impact on the community, while actively moving towards practical solutions.

fish stocks declining? ARC documents showed that only two per cent of the snapper in our west coast fisheries is coming out of the Manukau, and 98 per cent coming out of Kaipara.

hy is that? Our harbours are similar.

hat’s happening to our fish stocks? Is it illegal fisheries, lack of enforcement, sedimentation, water quality? Is it freshwater discharges coming out of Mangere? We want to find out. ”Why is this important?It is not known at this point what the effect of continuous freshwater discharges have on the shallow, tidal harbour.

im Jackson believes that habitats have been compromised in certain areas and marine life has moved away.

“There are places where the birds no longer feed,” says Jim.

his, he believes, is due to the saltwater crabs that have moved away and are no longer able to live in the freshwater conditions.

“There are sewer overflow pipes which, during heavy downpours, discharge directly into the harbour because Auckland Council’s stormwater system has not been separated from the sewer system,” he adds

It’s so bad that when the Onehunga foreshore was being rebuilt, Watercare insisted we remove a sandy beach and replace it with rocks to prevent people from using it because of the overflows. ”A consent application is currently with council for a wastewater pipeline that will be discharged into the Waiuku channel of the Manukau Harbour.

his will be on the seabed out from the Clarks Beach golf course, discharged on the outgoing tide, and consented for 35 years.

onder this…MHRS: “The Manukau Harbour is the most important habitat for shore birds in NZ.

n our backyard we have an incredible inventory of birds.

very spring and fall they gather here for their annual migrations.

he 2011 summer census figures of shorebirds by the Ornithological Society strengthened the importance of this, by revealing the following figures: Manukau Harbour 26,171, Kaipara Harbour 20,488, Farewell Spit 17,323, Tauranga – Maketu 10,536, Firth of Thames 9,803.

hat can you do to help?Start by checking out The Manukau Harbour Restoration Society web site at: www.

hrs.

rg.

z as well as their Facebook page.

ike the Friends of The Manukau Harbour Facebook page, and check out The Onehunga Enhancement Society (TOES).

hese are all groups trying their best to give the harbour an independent voice, bringing awareness to the issues of the harbour and their impact on the community, while actively moving towards practical solutions.


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