Targets for waterway protection in the Te Awanui Tauranga Harbour catchments have been exceeded for the 2015/16 year.
A report to Bay of Plenty Regional Councils’ Regional Direction and Delivery Committee meeting last week highlighted that Council had signed up 42 new environmental management plans in the Tauranga Harbour catchments over the past year and protected 69 kilometres of waterway margins from stock access, compared with a target of 50 kilometres.
“That’s 42 new properties where landowners have signed up for assistance to take better care of land, water and wildlife in their catchment,” said Tauranga Harbour Catchments Manager Sarah Omundsen.
Regional Council first developed 16 sub-catchment action plans for the hill country and lowlands between the Kaimai Mamaku ranges and Tauranga Harbour in 2012. The plans outlined priorities and targets for protecting waterways and wildlife areas.
Mrs Omundsen said that since 2012, Council has supported hundreds of landowners to exclude stock access from a total of 216 kilometres of waterway margins, reduce run-off risk from 1400 hectares of erosion-prone land, and improve wildlife habitat at 58 sites, around the Tauranga Harbour and surrounding hill-country.
“It will take some time for land-use change to translate into visible improvements in water quality and harbour health, but we’re generally now seeing stable or improving trends in water quality indicators such as suspended sediment, clarity, nitrogen, phosphorous and faecal contamination,” she said.
Mrs Omundsen expects to see further harbour health improvements in future as a result of Regional Council’s collaborative efforts with Western Bay of Plenty District and Tauranga City Councils, and tangata whenua.
“We’re supporting Western Bay District Council to replace aging septic tank systems at Ongare Point and Te Puna West with wastewater reticulation schemes, and together with Tauranga City Council we’ve got regular auditing and compliance programmes in place to prevent storm water pollution from industrial areas and new subdivisions.
A new Tauranga Moana Iwi Management Plan was lodged by Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi te Rangi and Ngāti Pūkenga with all three councils last month.
“The new iwi management plan will help guide our harbour care efforts in future. It complements the work we’re already doing with hapū and Māori landowners to restore mauri (life force) and protect cultural values at sites like Motuopae Island and Rangataua Bay,” said Mrs Omundsen.
Further information about Tauranga Harbour, and Council’s work to care for it, is available at www.boprc.govt.nz/taurangaharbour.