Recreational fishing, boating and the ability for businesses to make a living on the Hauraki Gulf is at risk if proposed changes to the management structure of the Hauraki Gulf Forum go ahead, says Lee Short, spokesperson for the Gulf Users Group.
The newly formed Gulf Users Group has today launched a petition to stop the Hauraki Gulf Forum from making changes that could mean 2.2 million citizens in and around the Hauraki Gulf could well lose their say and councils could be powerless to ensure the public’s ongoing right to enjoy these waterways.
The Forum is proposing to ask the Government to change its composition to that of a 50:50 co-governance authority with mana whenua and and ‘others’. The proposal also recommends that the Marine Park concept be removed, and that this new Authority develop its own statutory plans that would prevail over council policies and central government decision-making for all matters in respect of the Gulf. In effect, this would grant control of the Hauraki Gulf to unelected appointees, along with far greater power, resources and influence than is currently the case.
Mr Short says, “Generations of Kiwis have grown up on the shores of the Hauraki Gulf. Boaties, yachties, and fishermen have enjoyed access to this important public treasure”
“Decisions over the future of the Hauraki Gulf and its management must remain democratic and they must be in the best interests of all Hauraki Gulf users – they cannot be made by a small group of people appointed by Wellington.”
The Hauraki Gulf Forum is a consultative and advocacy body established under the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act to advocate for the protection of the Gulf. It currently includes Ministerial representatives, and representatives from iwi and Councils that border the Gulf. The majority of its members are elected Councillors.
The Auckland Council is also consulting on its Regional Park Draft Management Plan which proposes changing legislation to give authority for Regional Parks that border the Gulf to the Forum. This would mean that the Forum would also have control of up to 21 of Auckland’s 28 Regional Parks – a responsibility that currently rests with the Auckland Council.
“Hauraki Gulf users from Thames and the Coromandel to the shores of Auckland will be extremely concerned to learn of these proposals and how they could affect their enjoyment of the Gulf. The Gulf Users group is calling on the Hauraki Gulf Forum members to vote down these proposals and leave control of the Gulf in the hands of elected representatives,” Mr Short says.
The Gulf Users Group is a lobby group established to ensure ongoing enjoyment of the Hauraki Gulf for all New Zealanders. At the forefront is the belief that decisions in respect of the Gulf should be fair, transparent and democratic.
Visit www.gulfusers.org.nz to sign the petition and/or donate to the action.