Auckland Conservation Board update

Auckland Conservation Board members with Te Kawerau a Maki representatives CEO Edward Ashby and Environment Officer Mihi McMahon for the meeting held at Arataki Visitor Centre on 10 April

I was appointed to Te Runanga Papa Atawhai o Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland Conservation Board (ACB) in August 2023. The Board has an advisory and community liaison role in the conservation of the Auckland region.  As part of my role I am the liaison with Te Rūnanga Papa Atawhai o Te Tai Tokerau Northland Conservation Board.  My liaison report to their May meeting was a good opportunity to provide an update on what the Board has been up to so far this year. 


The year started for ACB with a field trip in February to Ōtata, The Noises a chain of islands, rock stacks and reefs, lying within the inner Hauraki Gulf Marine Park / Tīkapa Moana / Te Moananui-ā-Toi.  One of the islands’ owners, Sue Neureuter (in the photo right with board members and DOC’s John Galilee), guided our members around the largest island, Ōtata. The tour included seeing wētāpunga, which had been bred by Auckland Zoo, who hold wētāpunga from their source population on Hauturu/Little Barrier. We support the Neureuter family’s proposal for a High Protection Area around the islands to restore the marine ecosystem. 

The Board attended a joint formal meeting with the Waikato Conservation Board in mid-March 2024 in Hamilton. A number of shared issues were discussed including advocacy goals to support the work of the Northern NZ Seabirds Trust (Sentinel – Seabirds of Aotearoa exhibition has just opened at New Zealand Maritime Museum Hui Te Ananui a Tangaroa with the support of the Trust.  On until 27 October) .

Our recent advocacy has included:

  • presenting our submission to the Environment Select Committee on Hauraki Gulf Tīkapa Moana Marine Protection Bill with several recommendations on how best to support a partnership approach with mana whenua that will help ensure the continued health of the Hauraki Gulf for everyone’s benefit.  The Board strongly supports the need for Marine Protected Areas because they work!
  • presenting our submission to Auckland Council’s draft Long Term Plan. We called on the Mayor and Councillors to restore the NETR (Natural Environmental Targeted Rate) and the WQTR (Water Quality Targeted Rate) to their past levels and adjust them for inflation. Both rates were established 6 years ago to address the underinvestment in the environment in the Auckland Region after amalgamation and ongoing declines in the natural environment on land and in the sea.  It is the right thing to do to stop the further degradation of harbours and freshwater and to prevent loss of species from predation and invasive pests such as Caulerpa. 
  • preparing a joint submission with Te Hiku o Te Ika Conservation Board and Te Rūnanga Papa o Te Tai Tokerau / Northland Conservation Board in opposition to the government’s Fast-Track Approvals Bill

Our strategic priority areas are: 

  • Addressing the crisis of Auckland’s declining indigenous biodiversity, particularly in the marine and freshwater environments.
  • Enhancing relationships with Treaty partners by supporting the implementation of Treaty of Waitangi partnerships and the requirements of section 4 of the Conservation Act.
  • Supporting the transition to a lower-carbon conservation delivery model,  having regard to the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment  Act 2019 and reducing the Board’s own carbon emissions. 

Relevant on-going issues top of mind for ACB: 

  • the spread of caulerpa 
  • impact of the wreck of the “Niagara” 
  • fairy tern habitat 
  • sand mining off Pakiri 
  • kauri dieback
  • impacts of severe weather on walking tracks
  • understanding the implications for the Auckland Region of the 6.5% cut to the Department’s budget

In addition, monitoring implementation of the Auckland Conservation Management Strategy (CMS) 2014-2024 is a priority for the Board.  Resourcing issues have delayed work on the review of the CMS. Reporting to the board by DOC on key milestones in the CMS is expected through 2024.


Andrew Baucke with Chair Nicola MacDonald, and members Kate Waterhouse, Gael Ogilvie, Pippa Coom and Rahul Chopra

Board members attended the recent retirement function for Andrew Baucke, Director Operations for the Auckland Region.   We welcome new director Alex Rogers on 20 May. 

Chair, Nicola presented Andrew with a stunning taonga carved by Ngāti Manuhiri and gifted by Ngāti Manuhiri and Te Papa Runanga o Papa ki Tāmaki Makaurau / The Auckland Conservation Board.

The name of the taonga, Te Tohu can simply mean, The Mark or The Sign and aptly signifies the significant contribution of service that Andrew has made to conservation and Te Taiao.

Nicola MacDonald Environmental Hero of the year award winner

We are all extremely proud of ACB Chair Nicola MacDonald for winning Kiwibank’s Environmental Hero of the Year from a very strong field of nominations and finalists.  Nicola ended our April meeting at Arataki Visitor Centre in the Waitākere Ranges as she addressed the audience in accepting her award at the New Zealander of the year awards night on 27 March: 

Hei tiaki i te whenua

Hei tiaki i te moana

Hei tiaki i nga tamariki, mokopuna

He kaitiaki koe

He kaitiaki au

Mauri ora!

More about the Board here