Waitematā Harbour rāhui lifted by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei

7:49 am on 16 November 2023
Karakia were held at Ōkahu Bay to formally lift the rāhui over Waitematā Harbour.

Karakia were held at Ōkahu Bay to formally lift the rāhui over Waitematā Harbour. Photo: Facebook / Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei

The rāhui over Waitematā Harbour has been lifted and Watercare says most beaches are now safe for swimming.

Millions of litres of sewage per second spilled into the Waitematā Harbour when the Ōrākei sewer collapsed on 28 September creating a massive sinkhole.

A rāhui was placed over Waitematā Harbour in response and Auckland Council has been keeping an eye on a number of inner city beaches which have been marked 'do not swim' on its Safeswim website.

Tangata whenua and ahi kā of central Tāmaki Makaurau, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, held a karakia Thursday morning at Ōkahu Bay to fromally lift the rāhui.

Several beaches remain unsafe to swim at according to the Safeswim website on Thuirsday morning, though at Ōkahu Bay was listed as 'safe'.

Lifting the rāhui is a traditional means for recognising and managing the effects of such disruptions, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust chair Marama Royal said.

"After close consultation with Watercare, and having conducted our own assessments, we are now confident that the mauri of our cherished Waitematā has recovered sufficiently.

"We are pleased to announce the lifting of the rāhui. Activities such as swimming, fishing, and paddling can now resume," she said.

"We thank everyone for respecting the rāhui, and as we move into this next phase, let's remember our collective responsibility as kaitiaki."

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Sentinal Road Beach remains unsafe for swimming. Photo: RNZ / Anusha Bradley

Watercare chief executive Dave Chambers said the overflows were heartbreaking to many Aucklanders but particularly for the people of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei as kaitiaki of the Waitematā.

"Our water quality and wider environmental programme is ongoing, but the results so far indicate the harbour is recovering incredibly well and as a result, most beaches have green water quality pins on Safeswim again, which is great news ahead of summer."

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and Watercare are meeting with experts in environmental systems regeneration next week to begin planning for the rehabilitation of Waitematā.

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