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Answering TÄ«kapa Moana's call for help - through philanthropy.

Like many Aucklanders, I have had the privilege of growing up and living close to our magnificent taonga, the Hauraki Gulf, aptly named Tīkapa Moana by early Māori for its pristine sparkling waters.

It has been easy to take this natural treasure for granted, as superficially it has a comforting permanence and beauty in all seasons. However, it is shocking to discover how shabbily we have treated these waters as Auckland has developed over the many decades since its emergence as a major city.

We have allowed all sorts of sediment and pollutant run-off to sully our precious harbour, over-fished, dredged, and severely damaged the once bountiful marine eco-system.

Our friends at the Hauraki Gulf Forum released their triennial State of The Gulf Report 2020 earlier this year, which makes sobering reading - but also contains seeds of hope. We can solve this problem and restore the Gulf to health and abundance if we hear the call to action. It is late in the day, but not too late, to help the natural resilience of the living environment to restore itself. We just need to do all we can to allow these natural processes room to exert themselves.

The science is clear.

Restoring the reefs and re-seeding the mussel beds that once covered the sea floor will encourage the regeneration of fish stocks and at the same time filter impurities from vast quantities of water.

Wetland and stream restoration will reduce the amount of sediment and pollutants that reach the Gulf.

Local authorities have a role in ensuring that the drainage infrastructure is fit for purpose, particularly in these times of ‘unprecendented’ weather events, and properly maintained to avoid sewerage spills, and enforcing regulations against hazardous waste disposal. We can all do our bit to reduce waste and pollution flowing into the harbour and clean up rubbish wherever we see it.

More challenging is gaining agreement to reduce over-fishing both commercially and recreationally to a level that is sustainable and allows these resources to recover. Gaining agreement to increase marine reserves is also formidable, but would be a quick win.

There are many dedicated organisations working to improve our Gulf and restore TÄ«kapa Moana’s ‘mauri’. Between them there are a multitude of specific projects which will need to be sustained over many years in order to achieve lasting change.

Auckland Foundation has taken the initiative to support these organisations by launching the Hauraki Gulf Regeneration Fund to make it easy for members of the public to donate through a central organisation. Funds can be given either to build a legacy fund for long-term support of the Gulf’s regeneration, or towards specific projects which resonate with the donor. 

We have also brought together an Advisory Panel of experts to select where donors' support can have the most impact.

This is an exciting new development which enables all of us to pull together and answer the cry for action from our beleaguered and beloved Hauraki Gulf.

We cannot fail her.

Ngā mihi nui,
Ken Whitney

Practicing as a lawyer for over 30 years, Ken has deep experience of both large and small philanthropic trust governance. A Trustee of Foundation North for 8 years and Chair for 6 years, he is currently Chair of Philanthropy New Zealand, and a Trustee of Auckland Foundation, the Auckland Health Foundation and the Chisholm Whitney Charitable Trust.


If you would like to consider supporting the Hauraki Gulf Regeneration Fund with a donation or leaving a gift in your Will - or if you want to know more about its long-term goals, we'd love to hear from you.