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Manukau Harbour Forum chair Jon Turner has seen pollution up close after helping remove hundreds of tyres from its coastline.

Turner joined Sea Cleaners on the harbour to experience what the environmental organisation encounters every time it goes out.

“We spent the morning using a hovercraft to ferry a team up and down the mudflats to remove tyres that have come from old seawalls.

“We collected about 250 in the short time we were out there, but there are thousands of them, given they were widely used in seawalls in the past.

“Clearly that’s not great for the health of any waterway. Sea Cleaners report the volume of rubbish removed from Auckland harbours is staggering. It’s hundreds of thousands of litres, and it’s required almost 200,000 volunteer hours to make that happen.
“We can’t allow our harbours to be treated like landfills. In 20 or so years, Sea Cleaners has removed millions of litres of rubbish, enough to fill almost 600 shipping containers.”

Turner says contamination and pollution were identified as significant issues at Forum wānanga that are to be extended to include more of the nine local boards along the harbour, and the community groups they work with, early this year.

The initial wānanga, focused on environmental challenges facing the harbour, conservation efforts, and community issues, was held at the Māngere Mountain Education Centre.

Turner (Puketāpapa) and member Jan Robinson (Papakura) joined groups at the community hui organised by Forum co-ordinator Sophia Olo-Whaanga, hearing feedback, with Auckland Council staff offering support.

Organisers will now deliver three more wānanga for the remaining board areas, giving groups in those areas the opportunity to share what they are experiencing as a part of their work on the harbour, and make suggestions about what is needed to go forward.

Turner says heavy metal contamination and other pollution was identified at the first wānanga as an issue. “Many of the groups we align with are concerned by heavy metal pollution adding to difficulties already caused by rubbish and waste.

“There were also concerns around a loss of vegetation in many areas along the harbour, and the impact of climate change, including rising sea levels and erosion.”

Find out more about the Manukau Harbour Forum here.

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