a long time coming – after 17 years of battling Tawharanui Marine Reserve formally opened.

Nearly one year after the dissolution of the Auckland Regional Council, the  legacy progamme of the ARC is still delivering projects.  The latest was the opening of the Tawharanui Marine Reserve by the Minister of Conservation on Sunday 28 August.

A formal Powhiri hosted by tangata whenua Ngati Manuhiri was followed by the unveiling of a bronze plaque by the Minister in Anchor Bay.

The project was something I had advocated for many years (see also

Here are my speech notes.

“Formal Mihi. Thanks for welcoming me back to Tawharanui Regional Park.  There is an old Chinese saying ‘ a tiger may roam 10,000 miles but he will always return home.’

So its great to be back on a regional park and see all the parks rangers.  You know since the advent of the new Auckland Council whenever I meet up with former ARC staff members I always have the uncanny feeling that we have died and are now living in an afterworld. And in some ways that is true.  The Auckland Regional Council which was so important to all of us has passed on into history.  It reminds us that our political institutions, indeed our lives are ephemeral and fleeting.  What is important is the legacy we leave behind us. 

Tawharanui - the new marine reserve covers 400 ha along the northern side of the peninsula (at right)

The new Marine Reserve we celebrate today has been a long time coming.  I first proposed the idea in 1994.  Mindful of the call by Dr Bill Ballantyne, that great pioneer in marine conservation who along with that other pioneer Dr Roger Grace is here today, for 10% of the New Zealand coastal marine area to be protected in fully protected marine reserves, I naively thought that it would be relatively simple to upgrade the already existing Tawharanui marine protected area (’marine park’) to a fully fledged marine reserve under the Marine Reserves Act 1971.

The original Tawharanui ‘marine park’ was first established by the ARA in 1981 as a ‘no-take’ area by creative use of sections of the former Harbours Act and the Fisheries regulations.  The fact that it wasn’t a Marine Reserve has over the years created some confusion in the minds of some members of the public – as has the difference between a ‘marine park’ and a ‘marine reserve’ – and back in 1994 I was mindful of steps to progress the creation of a Hauraki Gulf Marine Park which was likely to cause even more confusion. 

But progress was difficult and painfully slow for reasons I won’t go into here.  In the end it has taken 17 years to achieve.  But it has been well worth the wait and indeed because of its protected status since 1981 marine life within the new reserve has had a flying start and is already abundant and diverse. 

Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson unveils bronze plaque for the new Marine Reserve

Uniquely Tawharanui Marine Reserve covering 400 ha adjoins the northern coast of Tawharanui Regional Park (587ha) which contains the already successful Tawharanui Open Sanctuary –  the two bound together by a picture post card surf beach.

Thank you Minister. Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson and Mike Lee shake on it.

Finally I again want to acknowledge the Minister Hon Kate Wilkinson because it was her decision, a courageous decision, taken in the face of some entrenched opposition that ensured that this Tawharanui marine reserve will become the Hauraki Gulf’s 6th marine reserve and New Zealand’ 34th marine reserve.

Tawharanui Marine Reserve - protected in perpetuity. (photography Auckland Council/DoC)

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