At the 2016 LGNZ EXCELLENCE Awards
Air New Zealand Excellence Award for Environmental Impact.
Highly Commended: Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s ‘Ohiwa Harbour Strategy Implementation’.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s innovative Ohiwa Harbour Strategy (OHS) implementation project won praise from judges for using a collaborative approach to address deteriorating water quality – one of the big issues facing New Zealand.
The project brought together local communities, iwi and agencies to address concerns about the health of the harbour.
Community and council concerns were first raised in 2002 and a need identified for a collaborative and united response to sustainably manage the harbour and catchment in a holistic way, including improving water quality and protecting biodiversity.
A proactive approach was taken to protect this regionally significant natural resource before the deteriorating water quality became a major problem. The overarching objective was to maintain and enhance the health and natural qualities of the harbour, with an environmental focus on improving water quality and protecting biodiversity.
Signed in 2008, the OHS is overseen by a forum with membership from regional and local councils and tangata whenua.
It has resulted in the creation of Onekawa Te Mawhai Regional Park, birdlife has been increased through successful pest control, water quality has improved, and iwi and the wider community are actively engaged in the care of the harbour.
The project is an innovative example of government agencies and iwi working collaboratively to look after a body of water not mandated by a statutory settlement.
Judges praised the initiative, which has also been recognised by the Morgan Foundation, as “an excellent project and an example of how joined-up action can turn around a deteriorating water system, and of how local government, working with others, can address one of the big issues facing New Zealand at the moment”.
This article was first published in the August 2016 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.