Chairmans Report August AGM

Chair's Report 2023

Since my last report the Manukau Harbour Restoration Society has achieved quite a bit with limited resources.  We have regularly attended key local interest group meetings, with Watercare Community Liaison Groups (CLGs), and the Auckland Light Rail Group coming to mind in particular.  We have made feedback submissions on a number of Auckland Council and Government initiatives that will affect the Manukau Harbour and its communities including: the Central Interceptor; the Incorporated Societies Act 2022; the Manukau Harbour Shoreline Adaption Plans; the Auckland Light Rail project; Auckland Council’s budget and local Board plans.

Our input on the new Manukau Harbour Bridge, Nga Hau Mangere, was valued, and I attended its opening a year ago on 27 August 2022.  Sadly our feedback on the closing of the old Mangere Bridge underpass was unsuccessful in seeing this remain open, but we did try. 

More recently we have attended meetings on the proposed Onehunga coastal pathway link from Neilson Street to the foreshore via the old Port railway corridor, something we hope will be developed over the next two years.  I have attended meetings, (via the Onehunga Enhancement Society). with Eke Panuku on opening up the Port with the potential for ferries for commuter and recreational use. 

Members’ initiatives to ensure we are represented in such groups and submissions add to a body of collective feedback with real potential to sway decision-making.  Members have also written strongly worded letters-to-the-editor on issues such as the disproportionate under-funding of the Manukau Harbour. 

We still have to build a stronger relationship with the Manukau Harbour Forum (MHF).  It was a great loss that Dr Julie Chambers resigned her role as Forum Coordinator, as she was proactive in assisting us towards this end.  I believe strongly our focus should be on encouraging the seeking of greater government funding.  MHF has too little time commitment and money of its own to be effective without greater local and central government assistance.

Local government seems not to recognise the Manukau Harbour in the way it does the Waitemata, and funding remains inadequate and disproportionately low for the Manukau.  The biggest spend, the Central Interceptor, is not so much about cleaning up the Manukau, although it will have some impact in reducing sewerage overflows.  It is mostly about cleaning up Eastern Beaches, and will in fact put even more treated wastewater into the Manukau Harbour.  New treatment plant facilities have been consented out in the Clarks Beach area in 2018, and these consents will now run for 35 years.   Yet the Council still does not see any need to build a pipeline to the Tasman Sea to remove the need for treated sewage outflows to the Manukau Harbour. 

In my view, unless real funding is made available for the Manukau Harbour, as was granted for the Kaipara, then nothing much will change.  The best MHRS can do is continue to raise awareness of issues via the MHRS Facebook page Friends of the Manukau, representation in consultation processes and other channels. 

I am hoping that over the next year MHRS members can be even more active in engaging with news articles and research, and proactively writing material and speaking publicly on areas of key concern for MHRS, their communities, and Manukau Harbour as a whole.  We need to identify outcomes we want for these areas, and keep focused on driving for these outcomes. 

MHRS is always looking for fresh energy and expertise, from members either joining the committee or assisting the committee through advice, up-to-date information and challenging viewpoints.


Stephen Lasham