To mark Auckland Council Environment Month, Mayor Phil Goff writes about the challenges facing the city and surrounding area – and how the new target rate will be used to address them.
Auckland is blessed with a beautiful natural environment. It is located on three ports, with 1,000 beaches, numerous maunga and reserves, and flanked by the bush-covered Waitakere Ranges to the west and the Hunua Ranges to the south. Our air quality is good, as is the overall quality of our water.
New Zealand tourism marketing prides itself on “100% pure” which is a big aspiration but does not accurately reflect our current reality. Here in Auckland, the truth is that for decades back-to-back councils have worked hard only to manage the gradual environmental decline of our region.
With 53 native bird species already extinct and a warning that 80% of our surviving species are now endangered, it’s high time we took the threat of predators to our native birds and their dwindling natural habitats seriously.
The water quality of our beaches has been affected for generations by the intrusion of storm water into sewage pipes and by runoff from roads. The result, as demonstrated by the Council’s new Safeswim real-time data, is that every time it rains, stormwater causes sewage overflows and over 60 of our popular beaches are unsafe for the beach. bathing.
Analysis of the state of the gulf by the Sea / Change working group showed that siltation and commercial trawling have damaged marine habitat and snapper is below sustainable level.
Kauri dieback has become a threat to our iconic trees, which could decimate and even endanger the survival of the species. Add to these challenges the issues of climate change and coastal erosion and it should be clear to all that environmental issues can no longer be an afterthought. They must be, alongside transport and housing infrastructure, a major focus for the Council.
As mayor, I am committed to making transformational changes that meet our obligations in this generation, to pass on to our children and grandchildren an environment in a better state, not worse, than the one in which we have it. find.
It starts with committing the funding needed to bring about the change. In this year’s 10-year budget, I presented Aucklanders with a plan that massively increases investments in areas such as water quality, protection of our natural heritage, climate change and coastal management, and l expansion of open public spaces.
I also challenged that to make the changes we needed, two special targeted rates would be needed to make a difference and raise over $ 700 million in additional investment. In our Aucklanders consultation and survey process, we found that by a margin of more than two to one, they supported the target rates. They told us to just go on and do it.
Within a decade, thanks to the commitments we have made, sewage overflows in our rivers and beaches will be reduced by up to 90%. We signed up for the Predator Free 2050 program and added Waiheke to the list of Gulf Islands that will be free from predators. One need only look at Tiritiri Matangi to see how this and the replanting of native bushes can quickly lead to a resurgence in endangered bird numbers.
The Mayoral Million Trees program has already seen 770,000 native trees and shrubs planted in the first two years and we will continue to create even more ambitious goals for the future.
Critical steps to contain kauri dieback have been taken and we seek to work with regional and central government partners to address threats to health in the Hauraki Gulf.
We are working to create a more compact city, with electric public transport and more cycle and pedestrian lanes to reduce transport emissions which account for 40% of our total carbon emissions.
And most importantly, we partner with hundreds of community groups, schools and other organizations to unleash the power of thousands of volunteers.
We are working to change Aucklanders culture to embrace sustainability, waste management and enhance our natural heritage.
There is no room for complacency, but I am convinced that together we are making a difference for a healthier and more sustainable environment.
Subscribe to Rec Room, a weekly newsletter bringing the latest videos, podcasts, and other recommendations from The Spinoff straight to your inbox.