Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei – the tangata whenua and ahi kā of central Tāmaki Makaurau – held a karakia at Ōkahu Bay on Thursday morning to formally lift the rāhui over Waitematā Harbour.
The rāhui was put in place by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei on September 28 in response to the high-volume wastewater overflows caused by the sinkhole that blocked the Ōrākei Main Sewer.
Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust chair Marama Royal says what has occurred resulted in a disruption to the natural systems and mauri of Waitematā. The rāhui that we are lifting today is a traditional means for recognising and managing the effects of such disruptions.
“After close consultation with Watercare, and having conducted our own assessments, we are now confident that the mauri of our cherished Waitematā has recovered sufficiently,” she says.
“We are pleased to announce the lifting of the rāhui. Activities such as swimming and paddling can now resume.”
Royal acknowledges the collective patience and respect the community has shown by observing the rāhui.
“We thank everyone for respecting the rāhui, and as we move into this next phase, let's remember our collective responsibility as kaitiaki."
Watercare chief executive Dave Chambers says: “We’d like to extend our sincere thanks to Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei for their support, particularly over these past few weeks.
“We know the overflows were heartbreaking for so many Aucklanders, but particularly for the people of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei as kaitiaki of the Waitematā.
“Our water quality and wider environmental programme is ongoing, but the results so far indicate the harbour is recovering incredibly well and as a result, most beaches have green water quality pins on Safeswim again, which is great news ahead of summer.
“While the impact of the overflows seems to have been highly localised, we’ll be working with other organisations to do what we can to protect and enhance our treasured Waitematā Harbour.”
Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and Watercare are meeting with experts in environmental systems regeneration next week to begin planning for the rehabilitation of Waitematā following this event.
Safeswim.org.nz continues to be the best source of up-to-date information about water quality and other potential hazards at beaches in Tāmaki Makaurau.