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Home > Our region and environment > Coast > Tauranga Moana > Regional Council's work to care for Tauranga Harbour

Regional Council's work to care for Tauranga Harbour

Tauranga Harbour highlights 2014/15Bay of Plenty Regional Council takes a leadership role in the management of Tauranga Harbour. This is because of our coastal, land and water functions under the Resource Management Act 1991 and other key functions such as navigation safety.

Many other organisations, groups and individuals also play a hugely important part in striving to protect, enhance and restore the harbour.

On this page:

Regional Council's work

Bay of Plenty Regional Council is leading work to address harbour issues and works with community care groups and other organisations to ensure that our harbour is a safe, healthy environment for all living species.

See a summary of recent work in our 2015/16 Tauranga Harbour Programme Highlights document (pdf, 379KB) and in the 2013-16 Tauranga Harbour Catchment Action Plan Progress Report (pdf, 1.8MB).

Expanding knowledge

We're working to improving our understanding of the harbour and the complex interactions that occur, through:

  • Environmental monitoring: The regional council has an extensive monitoring programme for the harbour. Results of the monitoring are made available in regularly published reports which can be found on our research and monitoring page or in our library. Some water quality testing trend information is also available on our live monitoring page or the the Land Air Water Aoetearoa website.
  • Research:
    • the funding of the University of Waikato Chair of Coastal Science 
    • Specific student research into harbour issues. Currently harbour specific research is being carried out by students from the University of Waikato under supervision of the Chair of Coastal Science and Bremen University (Germany) through the Intercoast Programme.
    • Detailed investigations such as sediment modelling. Many of the reports of such investigations are available on our research and monitoring page or in our library

Increasing community understanding and action

Our work includes:

  • supporting estuary care groups and other voluntary activities such as harbour clean-ups with schools
  • engaging and working with landowners and the community as part our catchment action planning process
  • harbour margin restoration work, in conjunction with Western Bay of Plenty District Council.
  • supporting the Kaimai Catchments Forum which fosters collaboration between stakeholders from the iwi, business, recreation and environment sectors to care for water, wildlife and community interests around the harbour.

Reducing pollution

For years large volumes of sewage and other contaminants were allowed to pollute the harbour. 

We’ve turned that around in recent years by addressing the direct discharge of sewage, piggery and other effluent and industrial waste into the harbour, and working with landowners to reduce diffuse run-off of sediment and nutrients from their land. 

Our ongoing work to reduce inputs of contaminants into the harbour, and streams that flow into it, includes:

  • reducing sediment, nutrient and microbiological contaminant inputs from rural properties through our catchment action planning process.
  • joint industrial pollution prevention programmes (with Tauranga City Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council) to target high risk industries such as concrete batching and concrete laying contractors, timber treatment and treated timber storage, service stations and truck stops, auto dismantlers, scrap metal dealers and automotive workshops. All high risk industries should have measures in place to minimise contamination of the soil and groundwater under the site and stormwater leaving the site.
  • Regular consents monitoring and regional plan compliance audits
  • oil spill response readiness. We have a plan in place and all our Maritime staff are trained oil spill responders.
  • contaminated site management
  • implementing our On-Site Effluent Treatment Regional Plan through maintenance zones at Ongare Point, Te Puna and Tanners Point to avoid untreated septic tank effluent from seeping into the harbour.
  • reducing urban stormwater contaminant loads through enforcing compliance by Tauranga City Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council with their Comprehensive Stormwater Consents and Stormwater Catchment Management Plans. 
  • promoting the use of Low Impact Design into stormwater systems to reduce contaminant inputs into the harbour.

Catchment protection and management

Catchment action plans are in place for the harbour's 16 sub-catchments. They're focusd on managing the impacts of land use in rural and urban catchments and in the harbour itself.

The catchment action plans identify priorities for improving water quality, protecting biodiversity, controlling pests and reducing nutrient and sediment run-off into waterways. Our staff are working with landowners to implement those plans through funding & advice on fencing, planting, stock crossings & changing land use.

Other work includes:

Managing maritime navigation and safety

We are responsible for managing the safe use of vessels on the harbour. The Navigation and Safety Bylaws sets out the rules about vessel use in the harbour.


Strategies and plans

New marine pest management plans declared

On 22 May 2015, Regional Council declared two new marine pest Small Scale Management Programmes (SSMPs). This is a Biosecurity Act process that enables Council to respond more quickly and effectively when marine pests are detected in the Bay of Plenty.

Where voluntary co-operation can’t be achieved, the SSMPs empower Regional Council staff to take action such as inspecting or seizing boats or other equipment, or directing owners to removing or clean their boats or marine structures, to prevent the spread of specific marine pests.

Find out more >>

Other plans and strategies

The Regional Coastal Environment Plan covers all coastal marine areas in the Bay of Plenty, including Tauranga Harbour.  It provides site specific information about coastal values, sets out rules to regulate some activities in the coastal marine area (including when a coastal permit might be needed) and contains policies (which inform resource consent decisions) about important environmental issues on land adjacent to the sea.

Our Long Term Plan and Annual Plan sets out what work Regional Council has planned to do to care for the Tauranga Harbour.

Many Te Awanui hapu or iwi have developed Hapu/Iwi Resource Management Plans that describe resource management issues of importance to them as tangata whenua. The plans may also contain information relating to specific cultural values, historical accounts, descriptions of areas of interest (hapu/iwi boundaries/rohe) and consultation/engagement protocols for resource consents and/or plan changes.

The Tauranga Harbour Recreation Strategy was developed in 2008.  It outlines tasks that need to be done by each council in order to better manage the recreational use of the harbour.

The Tauranga Harbour Integrated Management Strategy was prepared in 2006 by Bay of Plenty Regional Council with support from Tauranga City Council, Western Bay of Plenty District Council and the harbour community. It evaluated the issues, gaps and overlaps in the management of Tauranga Harbour and identified a range of actions to address them.