Last Wednesday (14 April) saw a major milestone achieved for Hawke’s Bay and New Zealand. A Marine Cultural Health Programme developed over the last year and a half in partnership between mana whenua hapū of Ahuriri and Napier Port was launched. Tangaroa Tohu Mana, Tangaroa Tohu Mauri.
The programme promises real-time monitoring of the Ahuriri marine environment using a comprehensive cultural framework that integrates Māori values and perspective with a broad range of data from customary and scientific observation and research.
All of this captured and displayed in a fantastic website you must visit to appreciate fully the sophistication of this Kaupapa (initiative).
Napier Port is putting up the resources for this long-term exercise, but it is driven by a Steering Komiti of representatives from different marae, hapū and mana whenua entities representing the Ahuriri region.
The Port was prompted to make this investment by the practical and political need to involve locals – Māori and pakeha – in assessing and addressing the impacts of construction and associated dredging related to its new 6 Wharf.
But the significance of this partnership will reach well beyond 6 Wharf, Pania Reef and the behaviour of the Port.
First, the Programme and the process that has created and will carry it forward sets a very high standard for how Treaty partnership obligations should be met by all public entities. For this Napier Port deserves full credit.
And second, as the state of the Ahiriri marine environment is measured and monitored in this high profile and comprehensive fashion, the responsibilities – and failures – of all the parties who contribute to the sad state of this particular environment will be clearly spotlighted! The Port might well be the least of the ‘culprits’ as monitoring unfolds.
The Napier Port is facilitating an accountability framework and mechanism with this Programme that is long overdue … and is destined to rock many boats.
The Ahuriri Marine Cultural Health Programme is well-resourced … and well led by a superb and determined Maori leadership group. It will be a force to be reckoned with.