The Kaipara Harbour is New Zealand’s largest estuarine ecosystem and is the receiving environment of a massive 640,000ha catchment that extends across the Auckland and Northland regions. Ngāti Whātua, the Ahikaa, are spiritually and physically intertwined with their most sacred toanga – the Kaipara Moana. To address the ongoing environmental degradation to the health of the Kaipara Moana, kaumatua have led the establishment of a multiple-stakeholder partnership combining two approaches to environmental management: one Mātauranga Māori and the other derived from Western science. This forms the basis for future research, planning, policy development and management of the Kaipara ecosystems, harbour and catchment.
The Kaipara forest, freshwater, shrublands, dunelands, estuarine ecosystems and habitat have suffered significant loss, degradation and continue to decline. The Kaipara also contains some of the rarest ecosystems in New Zealand, namely sand dune, seagrass meadows, freshwater and estuarine wetland ecosystems. Evidence exists that the Kaipara Harbour plays a significant fisheries role in the wider West Coast of Northland. It is a nursery habitat for key commercial, recreational and cultural species including snapper, grey mullet, flounder, gurnard, great white and hammerhead shark and rig to name a few.
The impetus for action started from community and hapū/iwi. Since the late 1990's, community, hapū and multiple agencies have worked together but more often separately, to address this conflict and the ongoing decline of the natural mauri of the Kaipara.
Socially and economically, the Kaipara predominantly supports pastoral and arable farming including fisheries. It is governed by six government departments: Kaipara District Council, Whangarei District Council, Auckland Council, Northland Regional Council, Department of Conservation and Ministry of Primary Industries. All agencies apply a plethora of various statutory regulations to manage the Kaipara however, it is applied at different management scales using different management philosophies. This current management approach has contributed to the continuing decline in the health / mauri of the Kaipara Harbour as a whole.
IKHMG was formalised by Ngāti Whātua in 2005 and is led by the Te Uri o Hau Settlement Trust through its Kaitiaki Unit, Environs Holdings Ltd and is supported by hapū/iwi of Ngāti Whātua.
In the 24 years since it was initiated, IKHMG’s most important contribution is its consistent, well researched and influential message that Kaipara Moana cannot be forgotten, that the harbour is the critically important heart of the people of the Kaipara and that we must act to restore her mauri. With this voice, IKHMG is the initiating force behind the Kaipara Moana Remediation currently in formation.