Celebrating four years of support for regenerating the Hauraki Gulf

By Andy Kenworthy

Foundation North’s Gulf Innovation Fund Together (GIFT) is providing a vital helping hand for work to restore the health of Tikapa Moana/Te Moana-nui-a-Toi.

The work that the Sustainable Business Network (SBN) is doing in the Gulf is one of many projects that has received funding from GIFT. SBN is focusing on actions to address heavy metals, plastics and sediment pollution in the Gulf. We’ve developed two key initiatives. One is to promote the adoption of copper- free brake pads in fleet vehicles to cut down on transport pollution. The other is to trial the installation of litter traps in storm drains on business premises, to cut down on litter flowing to the sea. We are now ready to present our initial findings, and are looking for partners to take this work to the next stage.

At the same time SBN has been exploring a fundamental shift in attitudes and beliefs about the Gulf. The aim is to move away from the idea of the Gulf as just a thoroughfare, fish store and dumping ground to a deeper, more respectful personal relationship with her as a living entity. That aspect of our Gulf work has flowed into greater cultural awareness for the organisation as a whole, which is establishing formal cultural training and an organisational cultural support role.

Eryn Hooper, who leads the project for SBN explains. “One of the most exciting aspects of working with GIFT is the emphasis on the Mori concept of mauri. Mauri is often translated as “life-giving essence”, but like most concepts like this, there is far more to explore. The approach is to take a closer look at the flow of life in the Gulf, and seeing how that deeper understanding might shift our relationship and actions.”

With that in mind, GIFT funding has helped SBN to host several unique events as part of the project. These include the creation of The Memory of Water a dramatic portrayal of recent history from the perspective of our seas and waterways. In December we also hosted the online Gift to the Gulf Series covering all the relevant issues and what can be done about them.

Now in its fourth year, GIFT has provided more than $7 million to organisations and community groups tackling this challenge in a host of different ways. This has included work on fisheries and shellfish, marine protection and restoration, seabirds as well as land-based action and work aimed at shifting hearts and minds.

Eryn says: “The Fund has done some amazing work already, and we’re delighted and grateful to be a part of it. Going forward the Fund is particularly encouraging engagement with Māori mana whenua. As SBN continues to expand and deepen its understanding and connections to Te ao Māori and iwi nationwide, we hope to be in a strong position to continue this work together.”