Responsibilities & relationships

 

 

The Resource Management Act and the Inlet

Responsibility for the Inlet involves the maintenance of good relationships between the local authorities, some central government departments and agencies, and local environmental groups. Greater Wellington Regional Council (GW) and Porirua City Council (PCC) have the largest official role to play, deriving from their responsibilities under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) and its subsequent amendments.

 

The RMA is the legislation that seeks to protect our environment from degradation caused by human activities. The RMA’s overarching purpose is ‘to promote the sustainable management of natural and physical resources … in a way which enables people and communities to provide for their social, economic, and cultural wellbeing … while safeguarding the life-supporting capacity of ecosystems.’

 

To fulfil this aim the RMA requires ‘all persons exercising functions and powers under the Act’ to provide for the following:

 

‘(a) The preservation of the natural character of the coastal environment … and the protection of it from inappropriate subdivision, use, and development;

(b) The protection of outstanding natural features and landscapes from inappropriate subdivision, use, and development;

(c) The protection of areas of significant indigenous vegetation and significant habitats of indigenous fauna;

(d) The maintenance and enhancement of public access to and along the coastal marine area.’

 

 

Who has the 'functions and powers'?

The ultimate power lies with two central government ministries, both of which provide policies on matters of national significance relevant to achieving the purposes of the RMA. The Ministry for the Environment issues a National Policy Statement and the Department of Conservation a New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement.

 

The practical power lies with the local authorities who must ‘give effect to’ the national policies when administering and interpreting the RMA for their particular areas. Pauatahanui Inlet and its catchment lie within the jurisdiction of the Greater Wellington Regional Council and the Porirua City Council.

 

Greater Wellington Regional Council (GW)

The wider responsibilities of a regional council are to:

(a) set objectives, policies and methods for integrated management of the natural and physical resources in its region;

(b) set objectives and policies in relation to actual and potential effects of use [including development] of land in its region.

 

Regional councils set these objectives and policies through a Regional Policy Statement to which the regional, city and district councils must all give effect in their own local plans.

 

GW is responsible for direct control over the following matters of relevance to the wellbeing of the Pauatahanui Inlet:

(a) Soil conservation (mostly this means erosion control);

(b) Water quality in lakes, rivers and coastal waters (in practice this is usually linked to issues concerning human health);

(c) Avoidance or mitigation of natural hazards (including flood control);

(d) Discharges of contaminants to land, air and water, and of water to water (e.g. stormwater).

 

This means that GW is responsible for all activities affecting streams in the Inlet catchment and in the Inlet itself below high water mark.

 

 

Porirua City Council (PCC)

As with the regional council, the city council is charged with establishing and implementing an integrated management plan for land within its area. The design of an effective integrated management plan for the Inlet catchment therefore requires the active cooperation of both PCC and GW. A plan for the entire Porirua Harbour must also involve Wellington City Council (WCC) as most of the catchment of the Porirua Stream lies within WCC’s boundaries.

 

PCC is responsible under the RMA for the very important issue of control of subdivision of land. The council provides guidelines for subdivision in its District Plan, which states what kind of development can take place in both urban and rural parts of the Porirua district. In detail, PCC controls the nature and extent of earthworks associated with development. However, since the discharge of silt and sediment into a waterway is a regional council matter, both councils have to work together in setting conditions for development and monitoring compliance with them.

 

PCC is required under other legislation to provide environmentally sensitive services such as sewage and stormwater drainage, and thus is responsible to the regional council for ensuring that contaminated water does not discharge into the Inlet and its streams. At present sewage is mostly adequately dealt with but most stormwater drains empty into the Inlet and harbour. This is not a pressing issue for the Inlet in the short term as these drains do not carry a high contaminant load, but could become so in the future.

 

 


Porirua Harbour Strategy and Action Plan

Prompted by the Guardians (GOPI), the Pauatahanui Inlet Action Plan (PIAP) was drawn up in 2000 by representatives from GOPI, local residents and officers of PCC and GW following extensive consultation with the public and with the agencies mentioned below. The Action plan provided a blueprint for the two councils as they sought to achieve their obligations within the RMA with respect to the environment of the Inlet and its catchment. The Inlet Action Plan has now been replaced by the Porirua Harbour Strategy and Action Plan, which provides a blueprint for action in the whole harbour.

 

 

Other agencies and organisations with responsibilities in the Inlet

As the local iwi, Ngati Toa has a vital interest in the health of the Inlet and its flora and fauna. Much of the Inlet is included in its Treaty of Waitangi claim with the Crown.

 

The NZ Transport Authority is responsible for State Highways 1 and 58 and responsible, with PCC, for Grays Road. Maintenance and improvement of these roads has the potential to affect the Inlet.

 

The Natural Gas Corporation’s main supply line lies beneath the Pauatahanui Wildlife Reserve. Any disturbance of this pipeline would cause major havoc for the reserve.

 

The Wildlife Reserve is partly public land vested in the Department of Conservation and partly land owned by the Royal Forest & Bird Society, who have development and management responsibility for the whole Reserve.

 

The Ministry for Primary Industries sets regulations governing fishing in the Inlet.

 

The Pauatahanui Inlet Community Trust (PICT) was formed to promote and facilitate the implementation of the Pauatahanui Inlet Action Plan. It concentrated on providing advice to GW and PCC on the community’s view and on monitoring the two councils’ progress on achieving the objectives of PIAP. By the beginning of 2010 a new organisation, the Porirua Harbour and Catchment Community Trust (PHACCT), was in place to play the same role for the whole of Porirua Harbour. PICT continues to exist but its focus is now on helping to ensure the Porirua Harbour Strategy and Action Plan is fully implemented in the Inlet.

 

 

Our relationship with these organisations

Over a period of more than 20 years GOPI has built an excellent relationship with GW and PCC, such that our opinion is sought by them on all issues potentially affecting the environment of the Inlet and its catchment. We also work closely with PICT, whose objectives are identical to ours, and we hope to build a similar close relationship with PHACCT.

 

 

 

 

 

Last Updated: 14/12/2015 12:01am