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Mangere Shoreline Restoration A Great Improvement

27 May 2002

Massive Mangere Shoreline Restoration A Great Improvement

Manukau mayor Sir Barry Curtis says the $451 million Project Manukau is a creating a superb asset for Manukau City and the Auckland region. "It is restoring the original beauty and pristine quality of the harbour foreshore we lost decades ago. When it's completed it will make the area one of the best natural attractions in the region, complete with new white sand beaches."

Watercare Services is restoring 13 kilometres of the eastern shoreline of Manukau Harbour and Puketutu Island as part of its upgrade of the Mangere Wastewater Treatment Plant. It is the biggest public works programme underway in New Zealand currently and the most extensive coastal environment restoration project ever in this country.

Beaches and bird roosting islets are being created, coastal water purified, a tidal inlet restored and a freshwater wetland area created. Wildlife and shellfish beds are already returning.

The project is due for completion late next year. Already two sludge lagoons have been returned to the sea, as have two oxidation ponds. The final two ponds will be opened to the sea by August.

The upgrade of the treatment plant is part of Watercare's strategy for dealing with growth in the Auckland region and has led to the introduction of a significantly more advanced treatment process which produces higher quality effluent. The treatment process will be land-based and will not pollute the Manukau Harbour.

Sir Barry Curtis says, "For many years this area was a foul-smelling disgrace. The harbour was filthy and local people endured forty years of a defiled environment. The air stank for kilometres around, local homes were swamped by midges. But that will soon be just a memory and I commend Watercare for its commitment to the enormous improvement.

"Once this huge project's completed, traditional Maori fishing and shellfish collecting grounds will be restored and people will be able to fish, swim or spend a day at the beach, or simply enjoy the natural beauty of the shoreline."

Six new white-sand beaches have been created along the Ihumatao shoreline, including one 250 metres in length, and one on Puketutu Island.

Construction of beaches on this scale is believed to be unprecedented in New Zealand.

Bird roosts have been built for bird populations as a key part of the project. The area attracts migratory godwits and other birds from Siberia and Alaska every summer and local wading birds throughout the year. Migrating birds are using newly created islets for roosting.

Sir Barry says he is proud that Manukau City Council has had a strong influence in making Project Manukau a true restoration project.

"There's great potential for tourism and recreation around the shoreline and in Mangere as a whole. We are aiming to make Mangere a tourism and visitor destination in the future. The Manukau Harbour is one of the treasures of the Auckland region but the pollution of past decades robbed us of that treasure. I look forward to the day when Project Manukau is complete."

The restored coastal foreshore is expected to become part of a network of visitor and tourist attractions being developed to take advantage of the natural features and cultural sites of the area between Mangere/Puhinui in the south to Mangere Bridge in the north. The concept, still in its early stages, is called the Gateway Heritage project and is being co-ordinated by Manukau City Council.

It will be accompanied by commercial developments such as the $30 million development of a new winery and vineyard for Villa Maria Wines on the Mangere foreshore, involving the building of a restaurant and other visitor facilities.

Sir Barry says, "I hope we'll soon have Ponsonby residents coming out to Mangere for brunch at a vineyard, enjoying a glass of wine as they gaze out over the beautiful Manukau Harbour.

"Mangere is more than just a residential suburb with streets and houses. It contains a wealth of historical, cultural and geological sites which are not only significant but which have great tourism and visitor potential. They range from volcanic cones and historic pa sites to a world class winery and a bird reserve. Large numbers of Maori lived in the area for many centuries and left a rich footprint.

"For many years the area's been seen by the rest of New Zealand as merely a bad news "trouble spot". It never deserved that reputation, and the restoration of the shoreline will be a big part of this new direction for Mangere."


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