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Climate Change and Working with Maori

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Preparing for climate change

Climate change has the potential to affect the general wellbeing of our region, and have a major bearing on our work because of the impact from predicted sea level rise and more intense weather events. Climate change will affect all New Zealand in some way, but the impact will vary depending on where in the country you are. In the Bay of Plenty, the projected rainfall changes will be less severe compared to many parts of New Zealand. This may bring new opportunities as well as challenges.

For the Bay of Plenty, climate change is likely to present the following challenges:

  • The rising sea level will increase costs of draining low lying areas, decrease coastal flood protection levels of service, and increase the risk of coastal erosion
  • Increasing ex-cyclone intensity will increase coastal storm impacts
  • While there is large natural variability in extreme rainfall frequency in the Bay of Plenty from year to year and decade to decade, there will be an increase in the intensity of events which will:
    • raise the flood risk to floodplains
    • decrease flood protection service levels
  • The extreme rainfall events will increase erosion, increase catchment run-off and lead to an increase in sediment ending up in harbours, estuaries and river mouths.
  • Changes in temperature and rainfall patterns mean sectors that depend on natural resources (such as horticulture, agriculture and tourism) may have to change their practices
  • The temperature will be warmer, with more hot days warmer than 25°C, which will increase demands on water and change how some crops are managed
  • Fewer frosts and changes in temperatures will bring more and different pest plants and animals and result in changes to natural ecosystems

The events in the eastern Bay of Plenty in 2017 show how devastating such flooding events can be.

Preparing for Climate Change

Some of the work we are doing to find ways of adapting to climate change within our various functions includes:

  • Applying a 100-year horizon for development planning advice and raising awareness in coastal low-lying areas
  • Incorporating projected future rainfall in water management modelling
  • Supporting more resilient land management
  • Maintaining river scheme infrastructure
  • Prioritising sustainability in our offices, fleet and corporate purchases

Working together

We are part of the Local Government Leaders Climate Change Declaration, which commits us to working alongside central government and Bay of Plenty communities to understand the challenges of climate change and the best way to address them.

By working together we are more likely to generate opportunities for engaging in community conversations, adapting to climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Making consistent decisions on infrastructure and planning – for example by incorporating the implications of sea-level rise in design decisions – will ensure a more resilient Bay of Plenty.

Our planning for climate change is a work in progress. There are some challenging conversations to be had around how we respond as a regional community and as a country.

Sustainability of our river schemes and Climate Change is a key focus over the next 10 years

Following the eastern Bay floods in April 2017, we have focused on helping our region recover. An independent Rangitāiki River Scheme Review has also been carried out and this included a number of recommendations around the future management of our rivers.

Discussions are underway and will continue with those in the Rangitāiki River area who are impacted by the flooding most directly. The future management of our rivers is also an important issue for those living elsewhere and we will continue to engage with our community about river scheme sustainability and the ongoing implications of climate change.


Working with Māori

The Bay of Plenty has a rich cultural dynamic. There are 37 iwi, approximately 260 hapū and about 224 marae in the region.

Māori make a significant contribution to the region through their ownership of notable assets; contribution to economic development; participation in co-governance arrangements with councils; and their growing influence in the conservation, preservation and management of natural resources.

Māori are key partners, stakeholders and members of our community. Collaboration and involvement of Māori in our work over the next 10 years is important and we will strive to support Māori engagement with Council.

We will continue to do this in a number of ways, including;

  • Supporting our Māori constituent councillors and their contribution to our enhanced understanding of Māori values and interests
  • Enabling ongoing Māori participation in decision-making processes through Komiti Māori meetings and increasing the capability of all council staff to support enhanced iwi participation in our decision-making processes. This includes supporting Treaty co-governance forums such as Te Maru o Kaituna, the Rangitāiki River Forum and the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Strategy Group.

In addition, recent amendments to legislation are changing how we will engage with Māori and the role they have in our governing responsibilities. For example, the recent changes to the Resource Management Act 1991 concerning Mana Whakahono a Rohe/Iwi Participation Agreements will specify how Council will fulfil its obligations to iwi. These legislative changes directly impact our decision-making processes with respect to managing our natural resources.

Komiti Maori is a full standing committee of council

It sets operational direction for the Council’s obligations to Māori (through legislation such as the Local Government Act 2002). It also monitors how these are implemented. Komiti Māori makes decisions which translate legislative obligations to Māori into action. Komiti Māori hui are held on marae across the region to enhance participation and strengthen hapū/iwi engagement.


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