In the final meeting of the Hauraki Gulf Forum for the year the co-chairs looked back at the progress and hurdles of the forum.
At the meeting on August 22, the co-chairs report looked at the change the forum underwent and the advocacy that went along with it for the year.
Across the year the forum adopted a co-governance framework, took on a new advocacy positon, saw 95 percent of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park closed to scallop harvest, had large planting efforts and restoration for kūtai, green lipped mussels off Kawau Island.
Coom said over the term relations between the forum and Ports of Auckland had greatly improved.
The new chief executive was “chalk and cheese” compared to the previous one according to Coom which she said was promising in efforts to improves the health of the gulf.
Members had recieved abusive emails over the transition to co-governance with some members of the public comparing it to apartheid but the forum made it out the other end and were “stronger because of it,” Coom said.
Forum member Denis Tegg put forward a vote of thanks to the co-chairs and said MacDonald and Coom had chaired the forum with integrity.
“I have seen the dirt under your fingernails and the salt spray on your face,” Tegg said.
Co-chair Nicola MacDonald said they had gone out into icy cold waters to photograph 60 scallop beds and send the message to the Minister for Conservation that “when damage occurs to scallop beds, they don’t come back.”
“I feel we have done our best to demonstrate action… Things can only improve as we continue to enhance our position,” MacDonald said.
The forum “faced transformative challenge,” she said and was proud of the governance framework for the forum.
MacDonald recited a line from the governance statement that said “a canoe that is interlaced will not become separated at the bow. In unity there is strength.”
With the Hauraki Gulf Forum being an appointed body, the coming local election may see a new mix of members.
As the meeting closed MacDonald said farwell to members Sandra Goudie, Donna Arnold and Rob McGuire who would not be returning to the forum.
She said she appreciated having “some salt in the pudding” on the forum.
“We have not always seen eye to eye but that is what informed democracy looks like.”
The next meeting of the forum will be in March 2023 where new and returning members will be inducted and members will elect a co-chair to work alongside the tangata whenua co-chair.