Managing mangroves

MEGA REMOVAL: Manurewa Marae chairman Rangi McLean hopes the people of Manurewa will be allowed to reclaim their waterways and beaches
MEGA REMOVAL: Manurewa Marae chairman Rangi McLean hopes the people of Manurewa will be allowed to reclaim their waterways and beaches

A "MEGA mangrove removal" could be on the cards for Manurewa.

Manukau Harbour's traditional guardians Ngati Te Ata have been given $30,000 to spearhead an application to remove the plants along the eastern shore and the Waimahia Inlet.

The grant comes from the Manurewa Local Board which says it will do everything it can to support a campaign to get rid of the plants many residents regard as weeds clogging the marine environment.

"We have allocated $30,000 to Ngati Te Ata on the basis that mana whenua along with the Manurewa Marae and residents' groups in Clendon, Weymouth and Wattle Downs can join forces in order to support the removal of mangroves," board deputy chairwoman Angela Dalton says.

"A mega mangrove removal resource consent is the first step and it is a huge step."

Getting permission for the plants to be removed would start the process of reclaiming public access to beaches and waterways, Mrs Dalton says.

"I would dearly love to see inmates from the Wiri prison and PD workers clearing mangroves right along the coastal foreshore," she says.

Ngati Te Ata spokesman Tahuna Minhinnick says the iwi's main focus is on cleaning the harbour.

"I can't say we have an attitude or a view on mangroves," he says.

"We are just being guided by the views of people who have mangroves beside where they live."

Various groups have different reasons for wanting their removal, he says, but no one can move forward without permission from Ngati Te Ata.

"We have listened to those thoughts from the marae community and from the various people who live next to them and taken that into consideration alongside the pros and cons of moving them."

The mangroves have stopped a lot of activity in the harbour, he says.

"Not long ago we were able to do all sorts of things and now you can't do any of them – you have just got the channel."

Mr Minhinnick's not sure the mangroves offer anything positive to the harbour.

But in the event their removal caused an ecological disaster it would be easy enough to let them take control again, he says.

Manurewa Marae chairman Rangi McLean says the marae is interested in getting rid of the plants so waka ama squads can use the harbour again.

The marae already has a resource consent but only to cut a small access strip through the mangroves.

He's hoping support from mana whenua, the local board and the Manurewa community will get the traction needed to see the mangroves removed.

Getting rid of them would also help the marae establish tourism and the option of rowing waka taua – war canoes – back up the Puhinui Stream, he says.

Manukau Courier