06 August 2020

Bay of Plenty Regional Council has committed to investigating and addressing health concerns raised by the Whareroa Marae community in Mount Maunganui.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council met today (August 6) and discussed the current situation and future of Whareroa Marae and the Mount Industrial area, in response to the hapū and community’s health and wellbeing concerns. This includes the hazards, amenity, light, noise, water and air quality impacts of surrounding industries.

The Councillors agreed to take action following Tauranga Moana Advisory Group’s June 19 recommendation for the urgent development of an action plan and the commissioning of an independent, comprehensive report to investigate the potential for instigating a managed retreat of surrounding pollutant industries.

Tauranga City Council is responsible for the land use and zoning decisions in the area and they will also be considering the recommendation on August 11. Regional Council looks forward to finding a constructive path for the future with Tauranga City Council, leading to improved community outcomes.

The Regional Council acknowledges the need to improve air quality, particularly in the Mount Airshed, and has requested the commissioning of a health study to assess the impact of air pollution on Whareroa residents.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Chief Executive, Fiona McTavish said she acknowledges the importance of the relationship Regional Council has with the Marae.

“The Whareroa community have asked for help and an inter-agency approach will assist with understanding their health needs and the impact surrounding industry has on them,” Ms McTavish says.

“We will continue to have ongoing discussions with them to address their concerns. To achieve an outcome that ensures the health and safety of the Marae, we are engaging with the relevant parties to expedite an outcome as soon as possible.

Similar to the actions we took to introduce specific rules for the Rotorua Airshed where public health indicated there were preventable illnesses, we are actively working on introducing specific rules to improve air quality in the Mount industrial area.”

Following concerns raised by those at Whareroa Marae, the Regional Council, Bay of Plenty District Health Board and Western Bay Primary Health Organisation are pledging joint resources to work together on understanding this collective issue.

The Regional Council has monitored air quality within the grounds of Whareroa Marae since 2016.