Friends of the Hauraki Gulf

The Hakaimango-Matiatia Marine Reserve Proposal - latest news
23 August 2021

Read the full proposal here.

Working together

The Friends group has been busy talking with the Waiheke community about the proposed new marine reserve.

We were pleased at the outcome of very successful meeting on Monday 9 August with the Piritahi Marae Committee led by chair Pita Makahe who hosted a deputation of the full committee of Friends of the Hauraki Gulf led by chair Mike Lee. Mike congratulated Pita and the Marae Committee on its work on behalf of all Waiheke Islanders before giving a PowerPoint presentation on the proposed Hakaimango-Matiatia Marine Reserve. He and the Friends answered questions from committee members. Pita and his committee, notably whaea Huhana Davis, expressed support for the marine reserve proposal and thanked the Friends for our work on behalf of marine protection. Piritahi Marae it should be remembered played a key role in support of the Ngāti Paoa rāhui declared earlier this year. The Friends were gratified by the warmth and aroha of our reception. Marae committee members articulated similar concerns about the state of the Gulf and the decline of marine wildlife shared by many Waiheke Islanders - and the need to do more to turn things around.

Previously, on Friday 16 July, founder member Alex Stone and Sid Marsh presented the marine reserve idea to a very supportive group of 85 people – including fieldworkers and staff of the Waiheke Resources Trust – at the Kai Conscious Café at the Sustainability Centre on the island.

Then on Wednesday 28 July, chair of the Friends Group Mike Lee and secretary Chris Curreen spoke to a seminar of some 70 people at the Waiheke U3A (University of the Third Age) monthly meeting at Club Waiheke (Surfdale Bowling Club).

Most recently a successful presentation by Mike and Alex to the Rotary Club of Waiheke, again held at Club Waiheke. Again questions and comments from Rotary members on the proposed marine reserve were thoughtful and supportive. More community meetings are being planned but subject to pandemic restrictions.l.

On the evening of Thursday 29 July, the Friends met with members of the Waiheke Marine Project steering group and staff, at the Adult Learning Centre.The Friends briefed the WMP on their current pre-notification consultation process on the proposed Hakaimango-Matiatia marine reserve.

The meeting was positive and constructive, with both groups affirming their commitment to working towards the same goal – the restoration of abundant biodiversity in the Hauraki Gulf.

The rare matuku moana reef heron (Egretta sacra) is found on Waiheke offshore islets and in Pūtiki Bay, and would no doubt appreciate the restored habitat of the Hakaimango-Matiatia Marine Reserve.

An example of the work of both groups being complementary is that addressing the state of kōura (crayfish) populations on the northern coast of Waiheke. In June a survey was done to measure kōura abundance, and to gather baseline data to support the rāhui declared by Ngāti Paoa supported by Piritahi Marae in January. The survey was led by Craig Thorburn and a team of 27 divers. It confirmed kōura populations both spiny red lobster and packhorse crayfish species, to be extremely low. But the survey confirmed the comparatively high ecological values in the area of the proposed marine reserve (northwest Waiheke). The survey result is consistent with previous surveys undertaken in this area in 2013 by marine biologists Vince Kerr and Roger Grace for the Friends of the Hauraki Gulf, and in 2016 by Tim Haggitt (eCoast) for the Waiheke Local Board.

The Friends of the Hauraki Gulf chair Mike Lee said the Friends welcomed the opportunity to engage with the Waiheke Marine Project and while the approaches of the two groups were different their objectives were complementary. “A good example is the exciting proposal to ‘re-wild’ crayfish. Permanent protection is needed in addition to the present rāhui to ensure the success of such a project. It’s this sort of permanent protection that a marine reserve in this high quality habitat zone can provide, and this is what the Friends are working for.”

WMP Steering group navigator Miranda Cassidy-O'Connell said: "listening to the FOHG proposal is consistent with the WMP's 'Protection Tools' commitment derived from the recent Future Search hui. Keeping the whole island system in mind, all tools are explored to develop effective marine protection." Both groups also agreed to continue future communications with each other.

The Friends are happy to give the presentation about the marine reserve proposal to any community groups who may be interested.

Bring back the giants!

With thanks to Shaun Lee for this fine graphic (above).

Find out more - an invitation

The Friends of the Hauraki Gulf group would welcome any invitations to make an illustrated presentation to any interested community groups.

We have been invited to speak to the Onetangi Residents Association - date to be announced.

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

Research links

In our meetings with the people of Waiheke, the subject of available local research findings as been raised.

There have been a number surveys of Te Matuku Marine Reserve on the SE coast of Waiheke, and these can be accessed on the DOC website here. The great aerial photo of Te Matuku Marine Reserve (above) is by Andrew Macdonald, Biospatial Ltd 2019

Wider monitoring of other New Zealand marine reserves can be found here.

The purple dots in this image (above) indicate penguin burrows found in a 2016 Auckland Council survey of Waiheke coastal birds. It’s clear to see a concentration of them in our proposed marine reserve NW shoreline. For a report on the survey by Dr Tim Lovegrove, please click here.

Note that Hakaimango Point, Double U Bay (Including Fossil Bay) and the Island Bay headland were not surveyed due to difficulty of access but are likely to hold even more penguin borrows, underlying the importance of the proposed marine reserve for Waiheke’s little penguins/kororā population.

Quick facts about the Hakaimango-Matiatia Marine Reserve proposal

  • The first new marine reserve proposal in the Hauraki Gulf for 20 years.

  • At around 2,500ha largest marine reserve in the Hauraki Gulf which in one stroke could double the area of the Gulf currently protected.

  • A priority site recommended in a Gaps Analysis and Feasibility Study commissioned by the Waiheke Local Board and published in 2017

  • Located between Matiatia Point (the north head of Matiatia Bay) and Hakaimango (the western head of Oneroa Bay); extends 3km north from Hakaimango;then 4.5km westward to a line 2.1km west of Matiatia, then southward 4.2km, then eastward to Matiatia Point comprising some 2,500 ha.

  • Is a marine ecological transition zone between the outer and inner Hauraki Gulf.

  • 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.

  • Important feeding ground for all marine species - including seabirds and marine mammals.

  • Ideal habitat for lost taonga species hāpuku, kōura (crayfish), kekeno (seals).

  • Readily accessible for those who wish to study or who just quietly appreciate the marine environment and the natural world (see below)

We need your help!

Please let us know by email if you know of any people who would like to be added to this emailing list.

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

Letters in support of the marine reserve proposal to the media, especially Waiheke’s Gulf News would be greatly appreciated too! Please send to

About Us

Friends of the Hauraki Gulf is a Waiheke Island-based conservation research group with members on Great Barrier/Aotea, Rakino and Auckland working to conserve marine life and restore marine ecosystems in the Hauraki Gulf.

All our work is based on best-practice science, and always has the protection of nature - our sustaining environment - foremost.

The Friends groups has members on Waiheke, Rakino, Aotea Great Barrier Island and Auckland.

The committee of the Friends of the Hauraki Gulf is:

Mike Lee MSc., chair. Long-term conservationist, and former Chair of the Auckland Regional Council.

Chris Curreen MSc, secretary. Head of biology studies at Waiheke High School for 30 years.

Leith Duncan Phd, scientific advisor. An expert on the fisheries management, and a driving force in the creation of Te Matuku Marine Reserve on Waiheke Island.

Sid Marsh, treasurer. Experienced scuba diver and field ecologist. Sid worked as a ranger on Hauturu Little Barrier Island. He is also an artist, author and writer/designer of graphic novels.

Andy Spence MSc. Long-term park ranger for DOC and at Whakanewha Regional Park on Waiheke.

Alex Stone MA. Artist, researcher, writer.

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