Coastal issues identified by tangata whenua in the Horowhenua case study rohe

Threats – Social/Cultural:

  •   Loss of mätauranga or knowledge about coastal waterways, stream, rivers, dune wetlands to marine environments and the health of these systems and resources as key informants in generations pass away
  • Associated decline in the mätauranga or knowledge, observations and experience of place that results in current generations becoming increasingly separated from once intricate relationships to ancestral, coastal places into the sea.
  • Concerns for kaumatua, resource users and interested others who have observed, sensed, felt and experienced the decline in environmental integrity of ancestral and coastal landscape into the sea
  • Concerns for once ecologically important and resource rich areas as well as associated original occupation and harvest areas, special burial areas and related spiritual entities in natural waterways and other sites adjacent to the sea.
  • Loss of inter-generational protocols observed to protect special coastal waterways, dune wetlands and stream systems and resources into the sea.
  • The convoluted resource management consents process that confounds committees and individuals alike.
  • Associated capacity issues for better resource management processes for the coast and the marine. This indicates shortfalls in capability that can inhibit progress and protection of areas, especially those areas no longer in Mäori land tenure.

Some Ecological Problems:

  • Within forty years, intensified agricultural activities, and local and regional authorities’ modifications to natural water way systems have combined to create tenuous balances between the cultural and spiritual needs of hapü and iwi as shareholders of Mäori lands and waterways to sea, the economic operations of tribally based, large-scale, dairying operations or pine forestry blocks, and the ecological integrity of the coastal region
  • Indigenous resources or local delicacies have disappeared from coastal waterways, streams, lagoons and dune wetlands once considered vital to the tribe. By the 1990’s, last vestiges of other natural food resources had deteriorated so rapidly from ongoing inappropriate or unsustainable actions, that they are now virtually non-existent.
  • Worries about white baiting in unsuitable areas or non-compliant areas, and before season, impacts on breeding stocks of inanga or whitebait for others.
  • Concerns have extended to those avoiding fees at public refuse tips, and using for example, the Öhau River beach environs to sea as private dumping grounds for inorganic or domestic refuse. Such activities suggest a disregard for natural integrity and a shift away from the kawa or sustainable resource use protocols once strictly observed and unchanged.
  • Wider environmental threats to waterways to sea include the direct effects of reactive nitrogen on ecosystems. Acidification and de-oxygenation effects on forest, soils and fresh water systems; eutrophication in lakes and coastal ecosystems to sea; nitrogen saturated soils; biodiversity losses; invasions of nitrogen loving weeds and changes in abundance of beneficial soil organisms, all contribute to ecological decline and destruction of mauri in the marine environment.
  • Unsafe levels of faecal or e-coli contamination from non-point source pollution (due mainly to ineffective farm nutrient management regimes) impact on coastal waterways, dune wetland systems, hydrological health of subsurface waterways, and impacts on the estuarine and marine environments.
  • Groundwater abstraction for farming around dune wetlands and lakes increases their vulnerability to groundwater pollution in their rainfall recharge areas.
  • Non-point source pollution from farming systems still remains the most significant risk to the coastal environment and to the future of coastal farming itself. Nutrient management, faecal contamination from animals, the fresh water quality decline with flows into the marine region, requires significant and immediate focus.
  • Increased pressures from proposed coastal peri-urban developments from Hokio to Waikawa will impact on sensitive coastal dune systems and dune wetland areas, their special qualities, as well as archaeological information and areas of spiritual significance within cultural landscape. This is coupled with ongoing and unsustainable impacts development has on coastal processes into the marine environments.
  • Threats to terrestrial biological diversity on the coastal margins include increased access to the beach environs, which leads to greater numbers of larger, recreational 4 x 4 vehicles or trail bikes. These vehicles mount risks to oystercatcher and black-backed gulls’ nests in the foreshore sand dune systems. Such increased vehicular access compresses the wet inter-tidal sands, which put toheroa [Amphidesma ventricosum], tuatua or kahitua [Amphidesma subtriangulatum] beds in the foreshore region and kÿkota [Amphidesma australe or Paphies novaezealandiae] under pressure.
  • Heavy 4 x 4 vehicles contribute to an over-extraction of shellfish and the lighting of fires for domestic or inorganic rubbish disposal.
  • Increased pressures from vehicular access also impacts on native covers like Mäori or native musk [Mimulas repens] and ureure or glasswort [Salicornia quinqueflora], carpets of sea primrose or shore pimpernel [Samolus repens]. Beyond the river estuary into the fore dunes, remnant stands of stabilisers like pïngao [Desmoschoenus spiralis] and spinifex [Coprosma acerose], tauhinu [Cassinia letophylla], and shore bindweed [Calystegia soldanella] have survived amongst the marram grass.
  • Other plants such as rengarenga as climbing New Zealand spinach [Tetragonia trgyna] help clothe the littoral dunes. These plants compete with pervasive marram grass.
  • Increased erosion of dune areas is due to the prevailing north-westerly winds trapping sand around the base of marram grass, which builds up steep sand dunes that inevitably erode and collapse.

For any further enquiries about this project please do not hesitate to contact:

Dr Huhana Smith
Research Leader Mäori
Manaaki Taha Moana: Enhancing Coastal Ecosystems for Mäori
658 State Highway One
RD 20
Kuku (via Levin)

00 64 6 3626360 (Home Office)
021 244 8711