Estuary Care takes off around Tauranga Harbour

Published: Fri 27 Oct 2006 05:21 PM
For immediate release: Friday 27 October 2006
Estuary Care takes off around Tauranga Harbour
Supporting Estuary Care groups at Tauranga Harbour are Environment Bay of Plenty’s Suzy O’Neill and Tauranga City Council’s Emily McNie.
A project that involves local people in environmental action around Tauranga harbour has skyrocketed over the past few months.
Until recently, just one community group had resource consent to work within estuary margins – the long-standing Waikaraka Estuary Managers.
Now, the total of consented groups has grown to five, with a potential for seven more because of residents’ enthusiasm and the support of councils and other organisations.
The programme, called Estuary Care Bay of Plenty, is a twin to the nationally-recognised and very successful Coast Care Bay of Plenty. Like Coast Care, it is a partnership between the community, Environment Bay of Plenty, coastal district councils, and the Department of Conservation. It also involves NIWA and Landcare Research, while the NZ Landcare Trust may provide facilitation support.
Environment Bay of Plenty’s Lawrie Donald, who manages the project For Environment Bay of Plenty, says people are “very keen and totally enthusiastic”. “They really want to do what they can to protect and look after their local estuaries. They’re right there with it.”
Tauranga harbour is coming under more and more environmental pressure. “What happens within the catchment impacts on the harbour, it’s as simple as that.” While policy and regulation are tools, people living in the catchment have an important role to play too.
Estuary Care’s focus is to promote the integrated management of the estuary environment. “It’s not just about mangroves,” Mr Donald says, “though mangroves, as a symptom of siltation, are definitely part of the picture.” Because mangroves are a protected native species in a public space, groups need resource consent to remove them. Tauranga City Council has already taken out a consent that allows mangrove removal in specified estuaries for much of the year, apart from the bird breeding season between September and December. Environment Bay of Plenty will help other groups through the process of gaining consent, Mr Donald says. However, the first step for most groups is to devise a management plan for the estuary.
Estuary Care groups are now working around Tauranga harbour at Waikaraka estuary, Uretara estuary at Katikati, Waikareao estuary, Welcome Bay, Matua and Waimapu at Tauranga city and Tanners Point/Athenree and Te Puna. In the process of formation are groups at Omokoroa and Prestidge Rd, with another possible Katikati group. Two Estuary Care groups are also operating at Ohiwa harbour.
Estuary Care is included in the new Tauranga Harbour Integrated Management Strategy, signed off by Environment Bay of Plenty last month. If you want to join or form a care group, call Suzy O’Neill at Environment Bay of Plenty or Emily McNie at Tauranga City Council for information.

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