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Part 1: Introduction

Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari: Creating a marine spatial plan for the Hauraki Gulf

1.1
The Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana covers 1.2 million hectares. It reaches from Mangawhai in Northland to Waihi on the Coromandel Peninsula. The Gulf includes five marine reserves, multiple nature sanctuaries, and more than 50 islands.

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Because of its national significance, the Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana was designated as New Zealand's first marine park under the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act 2000.

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There are many different interests that use the Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana, including aquaculture, fishing, tourism, shipping, and ferry transport industries. Each year, the Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana generates more than $2.7 billion in economic activity.

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The Hauraki Gulf Forum, established under the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act 2000, is responsible for facilitating integrated management of the Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana.1 Since being formed in 2000, it has released a report every three years on the state of the Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana called State of our Gulf.

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The 2011 State of our Gulf report showed an overall decline in the Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana and stated that better management of its resources was needed. This report led to the "marine spatial plan" project. The Hauraki Gulf Forum supported the project.

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The two State of the Gulf reports completed since 2011 continue to show an overall decline in the state of the Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana. For example, the 2017 report noted that litter is a pervasive problem for beaches in the Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana, and that crayfish and edible cockle numbers are in decline.

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The 2017 report also notes there has been an increase in non-indigenous marine pest species, and toxic metals have been recorded at levels above sediment quality guidelines.

Marine spatial planning

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Marine spatial planning is increasingly used internationally to manage marine areas. This approach aims to balance demands and reduce conflicts about how the marine area is used, while also protecting marine ecosystems. It has been described as:

… a practical way to create and establish a more rational organisation of the use of marine space and the interaction between its uses, to balance the demands for development with the need to protect marine ecosystems, and to achieve social and economic objectives in an open and planned way.2

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Marine spatial planning generally results in a comprehensive spatial management plan for the marine area, which includes priorities and their future implications.

The Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari project

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In 2013, Auckland Council and Waikato Regional Council started the Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari project (the project). They were joined by the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries. The Hauraki Gulf Forum also supported the work. The objective of the project was to create New Zealand's first marine spatial plan (the plan) and secure a healthy, productive, and sustainable future for the Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana.3 The plan was to be a non-statutory and non-binding document.

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The project governance arrangements for the project included councils from the region, mana whenua, relevant government departments, and stakeholder groups. Figure 1 shows the project's structure.

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The project was a "stakeholder-led collaborative project". This means that the plan was prepared by a working group made up of representatives from the community instead of the agencies. A stakeholder-led approach is one type of collaborative approach. In this report, we also talk about collaborative approaches more generally.

Figure 1
Structure of the Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari project

Arrangements for the project included many different groups and stakeholders.

Structure of the Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari project

Source: Office of the Auditor-General.

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The Project Board was responsible for the administration and resourcing of the project within a set budget.

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The Project Steering Group4 took a co-governance approach. In a resource management context, the terms "co-governance" and "co-management" are negotiated arrangements between iwi, central government, local government, and/or local groups to effectively manage an environment or conservation resource.5 The Project Steering Group had a strategic oversight function. Its role was to monitor progress and review and approve the marine spatial plan.

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The Stakeholder Working Group was responsible for preparing the marine spatial plan. Initially, the Stakeholder Working Group had 18 months to prepare the plan. An independent chairperson was appointed to lead the Stakeholder Working Group.

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The project had an Independent Review Panel. The panel was to provide assurance that the project followed good practice in marine spatial planning.

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The Mātauranga Māori Reference Group was formed during the course of the project.

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The project was officially launched in September 2013, with an initial deadline of June 2015 for completing the plan (see Figure 2).

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Overall, the plan took just over three years to complete. This was 18 months longer than planned.

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In May 2015, the project was put on hold for six months. When the project resumed, the Stakeholder Working Group had a new independent chairperson.

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The project was put on hold in May 2015 because mana whenua representatives involved in the project felt that their input was not being adequately and accurately reflected in the plan. The issues were resolved and people involved in the project agreed that it worked better after the project resumed. The plan was completed in December 2016.

Resourcing

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Auckland Council, Waikato Regional Council, the Department of Conservation, and the Ministry for Primary Industries (the agencies) resourced the project.

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The overall budget was about $2.1 million, with Auckland Council and Waikato Regional Council agreeing to share the direct project costs. The total spending for the project has been estimated to be $6 million.6 The Ministry for Primary Industries contributed $550,000 through the Aquaculture Planning Fund. The Department of Conservation also contributed a small amount and funded development of the marine spatial planning tool, Sea Sketch. The Department of Conservation put substantial resources into the tool and provided staff to use it.

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The agencies all provided support staff, and there was a dedicated project manager for the duration of the project.

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The agencies provided a significant amount of technical support, including geospatial work carried out by Auckland Council and Waikato Regional Council.

Figure 2
Timeline of the Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari project

The project was officially launched in September 2013, with an initial deadline of June 2015. The final plan was released in December 2016.

Timeline of the Sea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari project

Source: Office of the Auditor-General.

What we audited

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We focused on the project to create the marine spatial plan. Specifically, our focus was on the agencies and how they set up the project and supported the Stakeholder Working Group and Project Steering Group. We also looked at how the agencies planned for implementation during the project.

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We wanted to identify what other public agencies could learn from the project and could apply to other collaborative projects. Similar collaborative approaches are increasingly used for managing rivers, lakes, and streams (and other natural resources) in New Zealand and supporting councils' decision-making.7

What we did not audit

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We have not assessed the quality of the final plan that was produced. The Independent Review Panel used the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) publication Marine Spatial Planning: A Step-by-Step Approach toward Ecosystem-based Management in their work as a guide for good practice in marine spatial planning.

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We have also not considered the effectiveness of implementing the plan, because that has yet to happen.

How we did the audit

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We carried out more than 60 interviews and reviewed more than 100 documents. These included interviews with many of the Stakeholder Working Group and Project Steering Group representatives, interested stakeholders, and a wide range of staff from the agencies. Interested stakeholders that we interviewed included people from the commercial fishing and aquaculture industries.

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We have used the interviews to form a view of what worked well, what could have been improved, and lessons for future collaborative projects. Documented evidence provided supporting information to help support the interviews.


1: Hauraki Gulf Forum members include representatives from the Ministry of Conservation, Ministry of Fisheries, and Te Puni Kōkiri; elected representatives of Auckland Council, Waikato Regional Council, Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki, Waikato, and Matamata-Piako District Councils; and representatives of the tangata whenua of the Hauraki Gulf/Tīkapa Moana and its islands.

2: Ehler, C and Douvere, F (2009), Marine Spatial Planning – A Step-by-Step Approach toward Ecosystem-based Management, UNESCO, page 18.

3: See the Sea Change website at www.seachange.org.nz.

4: Representatives from Auckland Council, Waikato Regional Council, Thames Coromandel District Council, Hauraki District Council, Hauraki Gulf Forum, Department of Conservation, and the Ministry for Primary Industries and eight mana whenua members.

5: Controller and Auditor-General (2016), Principles for effectively co-governing natural resources, Wellington.

6: This does not include indirect costs, such as the time contributed by staff of the agencies.

7: See www.landcareresearch.co.nz.

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Report details

CoverSea Change – Tai Timu Tai Pari: Creating a marine spatial plan for the Hauraki Gulf

ISBN 978-0-478-44297-7

State of the Gulf
Infographic, 333kB, 800px wide by 1158px high.