History of the Whangateau HarbourCare Group (Inc.)

The need for an organisation to protect the Whangateau harbour from damaging actions, central and local government excesses was recognised when Whangateau Resident Rex Collings Snr took up the fight against sand-mining on the Mangatawhiri Spit and in the Omaha Bay. Protests from the 1930s had been ignored. In 1955, with a group of locals, he set up the Sandspit Erosion Committee which petitioned the Government. This had no effect and mining accelerated.
In 1963 an Omaha property owner and member of the Erosion Committee, Bill Fraser, took legal action against the Marine Dept and the mining ceased. Illegal mining continued at night for a time but by then considerable damage had already been done.
Some years later a proposal to pump raw sewage into the harbour from the Omaha North development caused concern to residents from Ti Point, Whangateau, Point Wells and Omaha. The protest group formed at this time had dye dropped into the harbour to demonstrate tidal flow and the probable routes of sewage. This proved effective, but several subsequent decisions by local government, were made without local consultation. An attempt to pump raw sewage from the Omaha North development into the Harbour was narrowly averted and a series of further actions attempted by the Rodney District Council (RDC) without consultation led Whangateau resident, Elizabeth Foster, to call a public meeting in the Point Wells Hall on the 12th March, 1995 to consider ways in which the local community could protect the Harbour and its catchment.
Twenty seven people signed up to membership of the Whangateau Harbour Protection Society. This group was quite informal and met irregularly to discuss topical issues and in July 1998 a meeting agreed to the formation of a Landcare Group under the auspices of the N.Z. Landcare Trust with the assistance of Helen Moodie from Whangarei and Trevor Sampson who had set up the first Rodney Landcare Group in Puhoi. This group met informally in the homes of local residents until the first proper Committee meeting was held on the 12th Oct, 1998 in the Point Wells Hall with Elizabeth Foster in the Chair. Margaret Earle, was elected as Convenor and Floor Anthoni as the Minutes Secretary. The Group gave itself the title the Whangateau HarbourCare Group and was incorporated in May, 2000.
In its early days the Group was well supported by the Auckland Regional Council (ARC) and RDC but this support has gradually drifted away but RCD is currently backing our exhibition of harbour photographs. However the group remains strong with some 60 people on its mailing list from areas all around the Harbour. Convenors following Margaret Earle have been Tony Enderby, Roger Grace, Elise MacDonald and Les Thompson. Secretaries have been Floor, Elizabeth, Jenni Reynolds and Jo Richards. Margaret edited an excellent Newsletter and was followed by Janette Thompson. Roger instigated regular cockle counting and weeding on Horseshoe Island. In between we have had many educational activities including seed collecting and planting, planting natives on the harbour’s edge, educational talks and discussions and walks around the Harbour fringes.
The Group has involved itself in all local issues of planning with the RDC and ARC and the Resource Management Act (RMA) related to the Harbour and its catchment and remains dedicated to preventing the excesses which can destroy this unique environment.
The aims in its Constitution:
• To help local people to work together in planning and implementing sustainable management and protection of the harbour, land and other resources in the Whangateau Harbour and Catchment area
• To seek funding for such land and resource based projects
• To invite assistance with activities, to commission research and to share information.

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