Introducing SBN’s new major programme – protecting and restoring the Hauraki Gulf

By Andy Kenworthy

The Sustainable Business Network is on a mission to restore the mauri, the life-giving essence of Tikapa Moana.*

We are an ocean people. Our islands are marooned by water at the bottom of the globe. The area of ocean we are responsible for is 15 times larger than the land we live on.

There is nothing the sea has not given us. It shapes our nation geographically, psychologically and spiritually. The waves carry our history and traditions. The sea brings vitality to our lives.

The catchments feeding the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, Tikapa Moana Te Moananui a Toi, cover much of the North Island. They reach into Northland just south of Mangawhai. They hug the coast down to Waihi and inland almost to Rotorua. Those who live and work in this region are enlivened by glittering vistas. We are calmed by its beaches. The Gulf is our constant companion.

We play with the sea. We jump from wharves, we fish, we roam its shores. The sea helps to raise our children strong and independent. The hush of the waves lulls us to our holiday sleep.

But today the Gulf is calling for help. We can be forgiven for thinking she does not need it. Her power and beauty hides the scars. But all of us who care to look deeper can see. We pour our waste into her from our farms, towns and cities. We take too many fish. We are choking her with soil washed from the land we clear. Similar stories are playing out around our country’s entire coastline.

The Sustainable Business Network has formed a new partnership with Foundation North’s Gulf Innovation Fund Together (GIFT): Gulf X. It is bringing business people together from across the region to help reverse the degradation of this national taonga. GulfX will initially run for three years. Its first phase will culminate in time for the 2021 Americas Cup and the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation meeting of world leaders.

GulfX takes a multi-pronged approach. It builds on SBN’s more than 15 years of working with business on sustainability. It embraces the Network’s current work on the low carbon circular economy and tree planting.

The initial aims will be to tackle practical challenges like:

  • keeping plastic from our harbour waters. This will be achieved by reduction, recycling and redesign and through the widespread adoption of storm water drain litter traps to keep rubbish from the sea
  • tackling heavy metal pollution, including exploring reducing the copper content of brake pads for commercial vehicle fleets and shifting to smarter transport approaches
  • restoring native bush to the region’s waterways with Million Metres

SBN is reaching out to business partners and organisations all over the region to collaborate on further innovations and practical actions.

Rachel Brown is SBN’s founder and CEO.

“We believe the first right of Tikapa Moana, the Hauraki Gulf, is to be healthy and whole in itself. The second right is for the Gulf, its catchments and its inhabitants to be healthy. Only once the Gulf’s mauri or life essence is whole and intact, and its inhabitants safe, may we use the water. We must work to re-establish this respectful relationship.”

“We will be doing all we can to help our members and other progressive business people to take this on. We believe our businesses have a special responsibility to ensure that our work is positive for the oceans that surround and define us. It is this care that our long term prosperity will be based on.

We will weave our work into some of the many awesome initiatives already out there. We need to get everyone rowing together on this. And then we want to take this model nationwide.”

Get involved right now by:

  • Join SBN’s Plastic Packaging Innovation Programme, which will tackle plastics pollution at source, before it reaches our oceans. Do you work for a business that produces or uses significant amounts of plastic packaging? This is your chance to work collaboratively with experts on reduction, redesign and recycling.
  • Help reduce pollution from the land. There are many practical ways to do this, from installing traps in drains, to using low copper brake pads in vehicles, or cutting down on car use. Property and fleet managers can find out more by contacting phil@sustainable.org.nz or calling 021 835 146.
  • Donate to, volunteer for or partner with one of the region’s Million Metres community-led riparian planting projects. Restoring native bush along waterways can reduce pollution flowing into the Gulf.

GulfX is set to be launched at special Immersion Event among Sea Life, Kelly Tarlton’s in Auckland on February 28. Register now to join us.

You can also get in touch with us to talk about how you or your business might like to get involved, contact phil@sustainable.org.nz or call 021 835 146.

* Tikapa Moana takes its name from Gannet Rock, northwest of Waiheke Island. Tikapa means ‘sound of mournful sobbing.’ It refers to the ebb and flow of the tide around this rock. It was here that early Maori performed rituals and ceremonies to claim the land when they first arrived in Aotearoa. Te-Moanaui-a-Toi ‘The great ocean of Toi’ referring to the early Polyneasian explorer, Toi, an early settler of Aotearoa.