Wellington Scoop

Managing it, or losing it

harbour porirua
Photo: PCC

by Jim Mikoz
If we don’t get better management of the Porirua Harbour, we will be the last generation to use it.

It’s all about more fish in the water. Petroleum products float on the seawater and wash ashore, killing the algae which is at the very beginning of the marine food chain. Everything is connected.

How we manage our coastal waters and beaches has to change.

The Hutt City Council were the first to make changes. They reduced the grooming of Petone Beach to allow life important to providing protein to marine specie to carry out its function in beach cast seaweed. They also allowed the retaining of sticks to trap sand and stop the beach blowing away, which also provided an activity for children to use.

Unfortunately, the Department of Conservation’s legal division advised the Minister of Conservation that beach-cast seaweed had no value and this life is removed from the Island Bay Marine Reserve by an ill-informed Wellington City Council, advised by an equally ill-informed DOC management who ignore the 2010 New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement and show their ignorance of the value of inter-tidal life. DOC must stand up and change their attitude to beach-cast seaweed.

What the Porirua City Council are now carrying out is a requirement of the Coastal Policy Statement (Policies 21 to 23) which I had a major part in producing. The public still has little knowledge of the impacts on marine life from sediment and man’s waste. But it is a Government requirement that all councils must acquire this knowledge to better manage our coastal waters.

The road to getting councils to take ownership of their harbours began in March 2002 when I wrote to Helen Clark pointing out (with photos) that councils lacked understanding of the inter-tidal zone and its value to marine species – a subject that had been missed out of the Coastal Policy Statement. I then took part in every stage of the review. My letter and photos were also sent to Marion Hobbs who instigated the process to have a National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

I presented a detailed power point to the Board of Enquiry for both the Coastal Policy Statement and the Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and to Meridian’s Mill Creek Wind Turbine project. Then Porirua iwi presented the same information to a combined meeting of the Porirua City Council, the Wellington City Council and Regional Council senior management and councillors.

At that meeting, iwi said they wanted their harbour back.

Jim Mikoz is president of the Wellington Recreational Marine Fishers Association.

Policies 21 – 23 of the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010

Where the quality of water in the coastal environment has deteriorated so that it is having a significant adverse effect on ecosystems, natural habitats, or water-based recreational activities, or is restricting existing uses, such as aquaculture, shellfish gathering, and cultural activities, give priority to improving that quality by:

a) identifying such areas of coastal water and water bodies and including them in plans;
b) including provisions in plans to address improving water quality in the areas identified above;
c) where practicable, restoring water quality to at least a state that can support such activities and ecosystems and natural habitats;
d) requiring that stock are excluded from the coastal marine area, adjoining intertidal areas and other water bodies and riparian margins in the coastal environment, within a prescribed time frame; and
e) engaging with tangata whenua to identify areas of coastal waters where they have particular interest, for example in cultural sites, wāhi tapu, other taonga, and values such as mauri, and remedying, or, where remediation is not practicable, mitigating adverse effects on these areas and values.

Policy 22: Sedimentation

1. Assess and monitor sedimentation levels and impacts on the coastal environment.
2, Require that subdivision, use, or development will not result in a significant increase in sedimentation in the coastal marine area, or other coastal water.
3. Control the impacts of vegetation removal on sedimentation including the impacts of harvesting plantation forestry.
4. Reduce sediment loadings in runoff and in stormwater systems through controls on land use activities.

Policy 23: Discharge of contaminants

1. In managing discharges to water in the coastal environment, have particular regard to:
a) the sensitivity of the receiving environment;
b) the nature of the contaminants to be discharged, the particular concentration of contaminants needed to achieve the required water quality in the receiving environment, and the risks if that concentration of contaminants is exceeded; and
c) the capacity of the receiving environment to assimilate the contaminants; and:
d) avoid significant adverse effects on ecosystems and habitats after reasonable mixing;
e) use the smallest mixing zone necessary to achieve the required water quality in the receiving environment; and
f) minimise adverse effects on the life-supporting capacity of water within a mixing zone.

2. In managing discharge of human sewage, do not allow:
a) discharge of human sewage directly to water in the coastal environment without treatment; or
b) the discharge of treated human sewage to water in the coastal environment, unless:
there has been adequate consideration of alternative methods, sites and routes for undertaking the discharge; and
informed by an understanding of tangata whenua values and the effects on them.

3. Objectives, policies and rules in plans which provide for the discharge of treated human sewage into waters of the coastal environment must have been subject to early and meaningful consultation with tangata whenua.

4. In managing discharges of stormwater, take steps to avoid adverse effects of stormwater discharge to water in the coastal environment, on a catchment by catchment basis, by:
a) avoiding where practicable and otherwise remedying cross contamination of sewage and stormwater systems;
b) reducing contaminant and sediment loadings in stormwater at source, through contaminant treatment and by controls on land use activities;
c) promoting integrated management of catchments and stormwater networks; and
d) promoting design options that reduce flows to stormwater reticulation systems at source.

5. In managing discharges from ports and other marine facilities:
a) require operators of ports and other marine facilities to take all practicable steps to avoid contamination of coastal waters, substrate, ecosystems and habitats that is more than minor;
b) require that the disturbance or relocation of contaminated seabed material, other than by the movement of vessels, and the dumping or storage of dredged material does not result in significant adverse effects on water quality or the seabed, substrate, ecosystems or habitats;
c) require operators of ports, marinas and other relevant marine facilities to provide for the collection of sewage and waste from vessels, and for residues from vessel maintenance to be safely contained and disposed of; and
d) consider the need for facilities for the collection of sewage and other wastes for recreational and commercial boating.


  1. Cr Paul Bruce, 31. August 2015, 19:45

    Thanks Jim for your excellent backgrounder. Permeable layers would stop some of the runoff of storm water carrying toxic heavy metals into our harbours, and the Regional Policy Statement supports this, but does not enforce it. It is time district and city councils toughened up – Porirua City Council banning the washing of cars on drives is a step in the right direction.

  2. Paul Ross, 1. September 2015, 13:20

    If PCC cared about this harbour they wouldnt have encouraged a highway with an unrivaled amount of earthworks through its catchment. The council has also given a green light to further large scale cut and fill housing subdivision on the northern hills of the Pauatahanui arm. If you want to see a great example of the cut and fill that will go on, look at the shoebox Aotea subdivision. PCC only cares about servicing bad ‘investments’ via inflated rates with the environment and people a distant second.