Waiheke Local Board member John Meeuwsen has been elected as the new chair of the Hauraki Gulf Forum. Mr Meeuwsen replaces Hauraki Mayor John Tregidga, who served as the forum’s chair for 11 years.
Mr Meeuwsen told OurAuckland that he wanted to serve on the Hauraki Gulf Forum after witnessing a steady decline in the health of the gulf’s marine life since his first visit to Waiheke Island in 1975.
Increasing marine reserves a focus
"Waiheke’s community is, of course, vitally interested in the state of the gulf, and use its foreshore and waters frequently," says Mr Meeuwsen.
"Waiheke's residents have shown overwhelming support for marine reserves and for a large area around Waiheke to be placed under protection. I hope to encourage this in my time as chair."
Mr Meeuwsen is keen to improve the forum’s role and credibility as an advocate for the enhancement and protection of the Hauraki Gulf. Moving forward, he sees the key focus work areas for the forum as increasing marine reserves and Marine Protected Areas, improving the gulf’s water quality and reducing the impacts of fishing.
Sea Change report significant highlight for outgoing chair
Outgoing chair Mayor Tregidga is proud of the efforts of the forum to lift the profile of the Hauraki Gulf and raise awareness of its special uniqueness. He notes the work with Ports of Auckland and shipping lines to establish a voluntary protocol reducing ship speeds to protect the resident Bryde’s whale population as an action of the forum that he is extremely proud of.
But it is the Sea Change - Tai Timu Tai Pari marine spatial planning process that Mayor Tregidga states as his most significant highlight. Mana whenua and stakeholders worked for three years to produce the plan, and it is an example of integrated planning that he is very proud of.
Mayor Tregidga will continue as a member of the Hauraki Gulf Forum and expects the forum’s work to “continue to focus on collaboration and, most importantly, continue giving a voice to the marine life and gulf environment”.