Read an overview of the topics the Northland Conservation Board discussed in March 2011.

Kaipara Harbour turbines approved by Conservation Minister

The Crest Energy Marine Turbine proposal for Kaipara Harbour was one of the major topics the Northland Conservation Board discussed when it held its first meeting for 2011 in Whangarei recently.

Chair Kevin Evans asked if the Department of Conservation was happy with the Environment Court decision to grant the resource consent application to Crest Energy to install tide driven underwater power generation turbines in the Kaipara Harbour, and if the conditions proposed by the department had been met.

Hilary Aikman, Department of Conservation Support Manager to the board, said that overall the department was comfortable with the Environment Court’s decision and that the conditions the department had sought had, in the main, been met by Crest Energy.

During the public forum at the board’s meeting, Deborah Harding, the Trust Services Manager of the  Te Uri o Hau Settlement Trust made a presentation outlining the concerns that Te Uri o Hau has in relation to the court decision.

Te Uri o Hau says it is not opposed to tidal turbines as a means of sustainable energy but it is concerned about the unforeseen effects on impacts on the environment – including to the Māui dolphin, snapper, sharks and other species that will encounter the giant turbines.

Because of the cost, Te Uri o Hau is not pursuing the matter to appeal and the Minister of Conservation, Kate Wilkinson, has since announced approval of the $600 million scheme.

The approval is on the condition that the 200-turbine scheme starts with three turbines and is subject to two years of environmental monitoring and that the development can be halted or turbines removed if significant environmental impacts are detected. The scheme is the first large scale underwater turbine project in New Zealand and could provide power for the north from North Shore to Cape Reinga.

Ruakaka Waste Water Plant

The board received a public submission from Margaret Hicks, the Independent Waste Water Monitor and Member of Bream Bay Coastal Care. She drew the board’s attention to concerns she has regarding the present state of the treatment plant at Sims Road, Ruakaka. She said the present state of the weed beds was the worst she has been seen and the water is covered in green and black sludge in places.

Jeff Griggs said he believed there was an opportunity for leaders to collaborate and undertake integrated management of the Ruakaka coastline as part of a Bream Bay regional park. He urged the board to take up the cause.

Kauri dieback

Zelka Grammer, spokesperson for GE Free Northland, expressed concerns to the board about the spread of Phythophora taxon agathis (Kauri collar rot), which is being monitored by the Department of Conservation, and separately about the Environmental Risk Management Authority [ERMA] approval of secret GE pine trials at Scion’s property at Rotorua. GE Northland is concerned about the possibility of pollen spreading from 4000 trees in the trials.

New Board members

New board members attended their first meeting in March after appointment by the Minister of Conservation at the end of 2010.

The board members serving in 2011 are:

  • Kevin Evans, chair, of Ruawai,
  • Judi Gilbert (Ngunguru),
  • William Goodfellow (Bay of Islands),
  • Helene Leaf (Kaikohe),
  • Ian McGill (Kerikeri),
  • Peter O’Hara (Mangawhai),
  • Hori Parata (Onerahi),
  • Richard Robbins (Mangonui),
  • Ken Ross (Kerikeri) and
  • Robert Willoughby (Russell).

The board made a site visit to the Whangarei Area before its first meeting for the year and saw historic and visitor assets at and around Bream Head. The site visit included viewing the gun emplacement at the entrance to the Smugglers Cove walk, the Marine Reserve at Reotahi, and Mount Manaia. The chair of the Bream Head Trust, Robin Lieffering, spoke to the board about the work of the trust and its aim of seeing a predator-proof fence erected at Bream Head.

The issue of the presence of the trig station on top of Mt Manaia was of ongoing concern to Ngatiwai. Hori Parata said the iwi wanted the trig removed to keep the faith with an agreement to allow tracks to be built. The trig desecrated the iwi’s ancestor, Manaia, Hori Parata said.

DOC is continuing discussions with Land Information New Zealand on having the trig removed and the board is seeking further reports on options.   

Eradication of kiore from Taranga Island

Keith Hawkins, Programme Manager, Biodiversity for DOC Whangarei Area, briefed the board on the programme to remove kiore, the Polynesian rat, from the major island in the Hen and Chickens.

Ngatiwai has agreed with the department on a programme to preserve Kiore on Mauitaha and Araara islands and the eradication of Kiore from Taranga.

Keith Hawkins said it was expected there would be significant improvement in the ecology of the island, particularly for tuatara, saddleback, lizards, land snails and sea birds, following the eradication programme. Brodifacoum toxin bait will be dropped by helicopter in a programme due to start in May.

Conservation Management Strategy (CMS)

The long-awaited process reviewing the CMS is due to start shortly and all key stakeholders and iwi will be contacted informing them of the progress. They will be assured that information they had provided earlier in the review process will not be lost. The revised process will aim to achieve national consistency for regional strategies. 

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