A thousand years ago the Manukau harbour was utilised by the Manu whenua as a great source of food, and the “gateway” by waka to the north via numerous portages and via Waiuku to the Waikato to the south.
The arrival of the European settlers heralded an even more intensive use of the harbour. Onehunga was major port linking Auckland to the rest of New Zealand and the world. Passenger ferries from Onehunga plied the Harbour as did merchant vessels. As well as Waiuku there were wharves at Whatipu, Huia, Cornwallis, French Bay, Orua Bay and many more connecting the outlying communities.
The Manukau Harbour had become the rubbish dump and receptacle for effluent for Auckland. Industrial waste, animal waste from abattoirs, human sewage, chemical, storm water and rubbish were all tipped into the harbour. Rubbish tips were turned into substandard reclamations.
In the 1950's road and vehicles replaced ferry services and wharves and jetties fell into disrepair and were demolished. In the 1960's Auckland's main wastewater treatment oxidation ponds were built at Mangere and while industrial waste then was treated and raw discharges to the harbour substantially reduced, large volumes of treated human sewage entered the harbour instead. New treatment facilities at Mangere are discharging ever increasing volumes of Auckland's stormwater and wastewater to the Manukau harbour.
Residents observe sedimentation of streams and bays, declining fish stocks, invasive species including Pacific oysters and Asian date mussels and wide spread mangrove colonisation..... for more information on ISSUES affecting the harbour click HERE
For historical information from Blockhouse Bay to Onehunga visit the Blockhouse Bay Historical Society "Notes on some features of the Manukau coastline, from Green Bay to Onehunga" click HERE