Friends of the Hauraki Gulf

The proposed Hākaimangō-Matiatia Marine Reserve offers stunning views out over the Hauraki Gulf and encompasses complex and valuable habitats.
Photo Andy Spence.

E-newsletter January 2022

The sharp end: Hakaimango-Matiatia Marine Reserve proposal goes formal

Great news! After nine months of preparation and pre-notification consultations and public meetings the application for the Hākaimangō-Matiatia Marine Reserve has been formally, publicly notified on 20 January. This as set out under section 5 of the Marine Reserves Act (1971), has involved placing public notices in the daily newspapers in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin and in the local Waiheke Gulf News.

The Department of Conservation in a parallel statutory process required by Section 4 of the Conservation Act (1987), and the Marine & Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act (2011) has placed its own public notices in the same newspapers, informing ‘persons, whānau, hapū and Iwi’ of the application. This begins a two-month period allowing objections and submissions from the public on our marine reserve application, a process which is managed by DOC.

DOC has also produced the official plan of the proposed marine reserve as required by the Marine Reserves Act:

As an outcome of the pre-notification process we’ve had time to reconsider the eastern boundary of the proposed reserve and have adjusted it 100m to the east to ensure the entirety of the islets off Hākaimangō Point are all safely within the boundaries of the proposed reserve. (More about the ecological values of these islets later in this issue).

At the end of the public submission process on 20 March 2022, the Friends (the applicants) have one month to respond. The Director-General of Conservation will then make recommendations to the Minister of Conservation who after conferring with the Minister of Fisheries, Environment and Transport will make a decision for or against. In the past such decisions can often take many months.

Formal letters have gone to all the statutory bodies and directly affected parties as required by the MR Act and to manawhenua. We can report that all work relating to our statutory obligations for formal notification under the Marine Reserves Act have been completed. It’s now over to the public.

We thank FOHG chair Mike Lee and secretary Chris Curreen for their work in getting to this important milestone.

Please support the Hākaimangō-Matiatia Marine Reserve proposal with positive submissions to DOC, at

The final version of our comprehensive application report ‘the proposal’ written by Mike Lee and Leith Duncan and supported by a long list of contributors, setting out the scientific and cultural basis for the application has been completed and is up on our website where you can readily download it:

DOC has printed out the report in hard copy for display at their city office, Bledisloe House in central Auckland, Waiheke public library, the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and the Waiheke Local Board offices.

Hard copies are also available from the Friends of the Hauraki Gulf at a cost of $32 a copy.

A common triplefin (Forsterygion lapillum) on a sulphur boring sponge (Cliona cilata).. Photographed in the waters of the proposed marine reserve by Shaun Lee.

If successful this would be the first marine reserve in the Hauraki Gulf since Tawharanui was upgraded by the ARC from a marine protected area to a full marine reserve in 2010.

The last entirely new marine reserve was Te Matuku Marine Reserve proposed by Waiheke Forest & Bird in the 1990s.

The proposed Hākaimangō-Matiatai marine reserve is the first application for a marine reserve by any community group in the Hauraki Gulf since that of Waiheke Forest & Bird in the late1990s.

The recently-retired Director-General of DOC, Lou Sanson told his managers that ours was the first marine reserve application he had seen from a community group during his eight years as the Director-General of DOC

If approved at 2350 ha Hākaimangō-Matiatia would be the largest marine reserve in the Hauraki Gulf.


  • Currently less than half of 1% of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park is in protected no-take marine reserves - despite its legislated ‘national significance’

  • Therefore, a total of only 3961 ha is fully protected in a Hauraki Gulf Marine Park which covers more than 1.2 million ha. This amounts to only 0.33%. A shameful situation that must be remedied.

  • The proposed marine reserve would at one stroke almost double the size of the area of full-protected marine environment in the Hauraki Gulf. It would still mean just over half a percent of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park is protected in marine reserves.

  • The Hākaimangō-Matiatia site covers an ecological transition zone between the waters of the inner and outer Gulf. The inner Gulf is slightly cooler, more turbid, shallower, low energy (sheltered by a screen of islands including Waiheke) compared to the outer Gulf which is deeper, warmer, clearer and comparatively high energy marine environment.

  • Marine species normally found in the outer Gulf such as packhorse crayfish, a rarity anywhere nowadays, are found in the area.

A little parore (Girella triscupidata) checking out Shaun Lee’s camera in Owhanake Bay.

Bit of background

The area was first identified in a study commissioned by the Waiheke Local Board in 2016 by marine biologist Tim Haggitt of eCoast who of all the areas he surveyed considered this the best and designated it ‘PMR1’ (proposed marine reserve 1). Haggitt’s PMR1 was somewhat bigger as it included Matiatia harbour which we considered not suitable due to it being an important transport hub, a consented site for wastewater discharges and because the old wharf a popular place for fishing for those who don’t have boats,

The area of the proposed reserve is geologically remarkable for its extensive underwater platforms and terraces

This important geological feature supports significant areas of healthy kelp forest

These in turn would enable relatively rapid restoration of Waiheke’s currently damaged and depleted coastal ecosystem in this area. Enabling the regeneration of a myriad of species small and large. A major step towards restoring heathy eco-system processes

The Colmar Brunton Survey commissioned by the Waiheke Local Board in 2015 via means of a postal and on-line public opinion survey to which a total of 1999 residents responded as follows::

· Total support for marine protected areas from island residents 67% and off-island ratepayers 54%

· Total support for no-take marine reserves for island residents was 64% with 52% off island ratepayers supporting,

So, it’s fair to say the proposed marine reserve would have the support of a good majority of people and is well within the conservation tradition of Waiheke Island and the strongly stated aspirations of its people.

Hākaimangō-Matiatia will enable ideal outdoor education opportunities for young people of Waiheke and of Auckland via an easily accessible marine reserve, which would for example enhance Waiheke High School’s Seasports Academy (snorkelling and scuba) integrating it with the sciences curriculum.

It will enhance the resilience of the Hauraki Gulf to climate change impacts, particularly heatwaves, invasive species and ocea acidification.

And be advancing long-held aspirations by marine scientists and the people of New Zealand for a network of marine reserves in the Hauraki Gulf.

Views over the western seaway of the proposed reserve back to the inner Gulf Islands and the skyline of Auckland City. Embayed islet in the foreground will become
a haven for roosting seabirds. Photo Andy Spence.

Economic benefits of marine reserves

The recent publication of break-through research by Auckland University marine scientists focussing on the Cape Rodney to Okakari Point (Goat Island) Marine Reserve, near Leigh, identified considerable economic benefits generated by the relatively high productivity of marine life within the marine reserve, in this case the highly sought-after, by commercial and recreational fishers alike, tāmure snapper (Chrysophrys auratus). This through the widespread dispersal of adults and larvae to the rest of the Gulf.

To quote the paper: ‘Empirical evidence shows that 10.6% of newly settled juvenile snappers sampled up to 55 km outside of the Cape Rodney - Okakari Point (Leigh) marine reserve were the offspring of adult snappers from the marine reserve. This suggests a significant boost to the commercial fishery of $NZ 1.49 million catch landing value per annum and $NZ3.21 million added from recreational fishing activity associated spending per annum. These values all come from the recruitment effects associated with one species, from only 0.08% of the marine space in the Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand. The economic valuation of this marine reserve’s snapper recruitment effect demonstrated $NZ 9.64 million in total spending accruing to recreational fishing per annum and $NZ 4.89 million in total output to commercial fisheries annually.’ (Qu et al. 2021).

While some caution is needed, projecting these figures onto the area of the proposed Hākaimangō Point to Matiatia Point marine reserve, more than four times the size of Leigh or Goat Island, would amount to some NZ$19 million per annum to the recreational fishery industry alone. More importantly if marine reserves are functioning as significant biomass generators in the way these scientists have discovered at Leigh, then there will be a significant increase in snapper recruited all around the inner Gulf as an outcome of establishing this new marine reserve. And snapper is just one species. One can also assume populations of other species including notably kōura crayfish species would also be enhanced by the addition of a significantly-sized marine reserve in this locality.

This is finally doing something tangible and meaningful to protect the Hauraki Gulf and the precious threatened wildlife which lives here – instead of endlessly talking about it.

The proposed Hākaimangō-Matiatai Marine Reserve would strengthen the historic, traditional, cultural, and spiritual relationship of the tangata whenua of the Hauraki Gulf and generations to come, with the waters and the restored marine creatures of Tikapa Moana, the children of Tangaroa, a living reminder of the heroic times of the tribal ancestors.

The area has remarkable existing environmental values, a highly diverse, indented foreshore, islets and Miocene fossil bearing cliffs, highly productive undersea rock terraces and kelp forests making it highly suitable for ecological restoration.

It’s an important feeding ground for all marine species - including seabirds and marine mammals.

Hākaimangō-Matiatai presents an ideal habitat for lost or depleted taonga species hāpuku, kororā , kōura (crayfish - both spiny lobster and packhorse), kekeno (fur seals).

Hākaimangō – the name, the peninsula and its islets

We know the 300m long peninsula at the eastern boundary of the proposed reserve, Hakaimango Point has a long Māori history. As our application report reveals, thanks to historian Paul Monin it was originally a refuge pā or fortress but by the19th century the extensive peninsula became mainly used by Ngāti Paoa as an ideal site for drying and preserving school sharks taken from the then highly productive Mahurangi shark fishery near Kawau Island. Shark drying and preserving was a major seasonal economic activity for the tribes of the Hauraki Gulf. To acknowledge the historical meaning of this name the Friends have decided to place macrons in our proposed name for the marine reserve (we of course are not changing any names on the charts) – not only as an aid to proper pronunciation (the purpose of macrons) but to recall the original meaning of the words that make up the name, ‘Hā’ – smell (or stink) or taste ‘Kai mangō’ shark food.

The remote headland and its attendant complex of islets, essentially two islets with associated stacks and intertidal/sub-tidal terraces also have important ecological values. Long term residents recall fluttering shearwaters, white-fronted terns and spotted shags breeding on the cliffs and embayed islets of the northwest coastline. Two separate, recent surveys by Mike Lee on 19 December 2021 and coincidentally by Dr Matt Rayner, Ricky-Lee Erikson and Rebecca Braye of Auckland Museum on 21 December 2021 (the latter a more extensive survey of the inner Gulf, part of an annual count of white-fronted terns) revealed significant numbers of white-fronted terns (Sterna striata) breeding on the outer-most islet with southern black-backed gulls (Larus dominicanus) breeding on the inner islet and on the end of the peninsula, Hakaimango Point, itself. Red-billed gulls ( L novaehollandiae scopulinus) have their own preferred breeding site across the bay on an emabayed islet at the foot of a headland between Oneroa beach and Little Oneroa.

Dr Rayner is concerned about the impact of rats on seabird breeding on the two islets and this is something the Friends intend to investigate once the current breeding season is over.

Packhorse crayfish (Sagmariasys verreauxi) are normally found in the remote outer Gulf but remarkably they are present here - albeit in very low numbers. A testament to the ecological potential of this area. Photographed in the waters
of the proposed marine reserve in November by Mitch Thorburn.

To view the latest version of the application document please see:

Read the full proposal here.

Carbon storage benefits

Photos on the left north-west of Waiheke Island and right Goat Island (Cape Rodney - Okakari Point Marine Reserve) by Shaun Lee.

By Dr Zoe Qu

Scientists at the University of Auckland have calculated the carbon storage benefit's of long term reef protection. They found that kina barrens do store some carbon in coraline turf, but it's only 3% of what a restored kelp forest can store. When the area they measured was being restored in the 1990’s it had both kina barrens and kelp, much like the area we have proposed for protection. This area now stores 50% more carbon in its protected forests! Read more about the findings in this report from Auckland University marine scientist Qu Zoe.

MPAs protect habitat from overfishing (Burge, et al. 2014; MacKinnon, et al. 2020), overharvesting (Luypaert, et al. 2020), which could combat the anthropogenic stresses (e.g., illegal harvesting) (Edgar, et al. 2014). Global investigation of 87 MPAs shows that species richness of large (>250 mm total length) fish species per transect was 36% greater, large fish biomass was 35% greater than fished areas, and sharks 101% greater (Edgar, et al. 2014). Increasing predator density and body size could increase predation pressure on populations of herbivores (e.g., sea urchins) (Baskett, et al. 2007). In the CROP MR ( Cape Rodney – Okakari Point Marine Reserve aka Goat Island or Leigh) New Zealand), the kelp forest was 0.46 km2, while the urchin barrens were 0.45 km2 (Figure 1). After 30 years of protection from overfishing, the kelp habitat was 0.96 km2 which occurred 60% of the rock area (Leleu, et al. 2012). The capability of carbon storage of kelp forest (standing stock) increased dramatically due to habitat recovery (no-take protection).

Facebook & upgraded website

The Friends of the Hauraki Gulf group has established a Facebook page. Please give us lots of likes.

And our website has a new domain and easier-to-find address

Find out more - an invitation

The Friends of the Hauraki Gulf group would welcome any invitations (of course subject to Covid restrictions) to make an illustrated presentation to any interested community groups.

Please visit our new website for detailed information on the ecological values and the background of this proposal.

Please support us!

We will gratefully receive and acknowledge donations to our cause. All the work has been done, and now we need a little more to get our proposal over the line.

Our bank account details are:

Friends of the Hauraki Gulf
Kiwibank, Oneroa, Waiheke Island

The area of the proposed marine reserves still has good kelp beds,
as seen through the water here. Photo Andy Spence.

Newsletter editor Alex Stone. Please contact me at
if you would like to contribute to this newsletter.

Copyright (C) 2022 Friends of the Hauraki Gulf. All rights reserved.

Update Preferences | Unsubscribe

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp