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The coastal habitats of Tairawhiti: A review of the scientific, local, and customary knowledge

In Aotearoa/New Zealand, regional councils and unitary authorities have a range of responsibilities for decision making in the coastal and marine area (CMA). The New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement (2010), in policy 11, sets out requirements for avoiding significant adverse effects on species, habitats and ecosystems, and section 67 of the Resource Management Act (1991) indicates that regional plans must give effect to the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement. For regional councils to be able to successfully manage indigenous marine biodiversity (composed of species, habitats and ecosystems) they must have some understanding of the types of biodiversity present within a region’s CMA, and knowledge of the spatial distribution of that biodiversity. For regions such as Auckland and Northland biodiversity in the CMA has been relatively well described. For example, the Department of Conservation has compiled a marine habitat map for the Northland section of the Northeast Marine Bioregion, which covers an area of 1.34 million hectares of coastal habitat from Ahipara to Mangawhai (https://www.nrc.govt.nz/resource-library-summary/research-and-reports/coastal/). This knowledge makes it much easier for councils to develop coastal plans that provide appropriate protections and management outcomes. In other regions, less information is available which can make it difficult to put in place appropriate environmental management. The Gisborne Region (Tairawhiti) is a region for which there is comparatively little information available regarding marine biodiversity and the distribution of coastal habitats. The region has been under-represented in coastal research to date, which is largely a consequence of its remoteness to institutions conducting research in the CMA (Universities, CRIs and other research providers). Consequently the Gisborne District Council (GDC), the unitary authority responsible for Tairawhiti, does not have readily available and robust information about the marine and coastal environments of the region. This lack of knowledge spans the range of coastal habitats which GDC has the task of managing under the Resource Management Act (1991). As a first step towards gathering the information required to better manage the Tairawhiti CMA, this report collates and summarises the available scientific, local and customary knowledge on the extent, location and state of marine and estuarine habitats within the Tairawhiti region. In addition to the collation of this information, additional objectives for this report include: identifying gaps in the information base; recording information that might explain how pressures and activities within the region may have altered coastal habitats; providing advice on priorities for additional work required to fill knowledge gaps; and where possible, include mātauranga Māori in accordance with tikanga. With this knowledge, GDC will be in a better position to facilitate the development of a Regional Plan for Tairāwhiti to set the strategic direction for growth, development and resource management over the next 30 years.
Type of thesis
ERI report
Ross PM. 2021. The coastal habitats of Tairawhiti: A review of the scientific, local, and customary knowledge Environmental Research Institute Report No. 152. Client report prepared for Gisborne District Council. Environmental Research Institute, The University of Waikato, Hamilton. 81pp. ISSN 2463-6029 (Print), ISSN 2350-3432 (Online)
Environmental Research Institute