For the past six years, the Hauraki Gulf Forum has been holding seminars on the current state and future prospects of the gulf. The seminars are part of the SeaChange initiative to create a marine spatial plan for Auckland’s marine front doorstep.
This year, one segment of the day-long seminar—entitled “Heart Talk”—focused on the emotional and spiritual connections people feel to the gulf. I was invited to talk about my own relatedness to an expanse of sea that has been part of my life since very early childhood.
The seminar was videoed, and my talk can be watched above, and the text is available here.
At the seminar there was a palpable sense of positive change happening, with more in store. Hauraki Gulf Forum Chair John Tregidga (who reminded me on the day that we had connections going back to my very first media job, at the appropriately and coincidentally named Hauraki Herald newspaper in Thames in 1980) summarised a few of these developments in his opening remarks:
We have heard about the threats to black petrels. Today we have a long line fleet committed to being seabird smart.
We have seen historic milestones in the settlement of treaty claims, the transfers of ownership of some of our iconic islands and the reassertion of kaitiakitanga alongside nature preservation.
We are facing up to the big challenges, how to fish, to farm, to intensify our urban spaces, profitably and within limits.
What is new and different is often the processes for those decisions – we are having difficult conversations with more people in the room, with more transparency, with more skin in the game, and consequently more potential for resolution.
We all need to share the responsibility of operating in and around the Gulf in ways that contribute to its wellbeing and enhancement.
There are good things happening offshore of New Zealand’s biggest city. I wish the SeaChange team well in producing a bold plan that preserves the blue wilderness at the same time as making it a greater part of Aucklanders’ identity.