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Could an Ahu Moana approach help to save the Hauraki Gulf?

Published: 28 July 2020

New Zealand’s first marine park faces ongoing environmental degradation as it reaches its 20 year anniversary following special legislation drafted to establish it in 2000.

The State of our Gulf report, released earlier this year, reveals how the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park is suffering environmentally, with crayfish functionally extinct and marine pests more than doubled.

The report outlines sharp rises in the number of bird species classified as threatened, drastically declining shellfish numbers and increased pollutants in waterways as Auckland’s urban sprawl expands faster than expected.

Aotea / Great Barrier Island lies on the outer edge of the Hauraki Gulf, with many residents relying on the island’s coastal waters for food provision; fishing and diving for kai.

Local board chair Izzy Fordham says increased marine protection for the Gulf is desperately needed.

“On Aotea, mana whenua and community groups have been actively fighting marine pollution for a number of years.

“But with the state of the Gulf in rapid decline, we need to do more.

“We’re currently seeking feedback from residents on our local board plan to guide our work in the community over the next three years.

“In our draft plan, we’re proposing we embrace an Ahu Moana approach for marine protection. This is where mana whenua and the community work together in formal partnership to co-manage our coastal areas.”

Board member Valmaine Toki, who is also a member of the Hauraki Gulf Forum, says Ahu Moana brings together mātauranga Māori and local knowledge alongside scientific data, providing a holistic approach to management. 

“Aotea has always fought to protect our unique and precious environment. Mana whenua and the community have worked side by side to do this and we have been successful.

“Our local board believes an Ahu Moana approach will strengthen this tradition and will greatly increase our ability to protect our precious coastal shared spaces.

“But we need to hear from Aotea residents to make sure we’ve got it right. So please have a say and tell us what you think.”

Have your say on the proposed Ahu Moana approach and the rest of the local board’s draft plan at

Feedback closes on Thursday 13 August 2020.

Go here for more information about the Ahu Moana approach, on page 48.


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