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New Forum urged to reach quick consensus

New Forum urged to reach quick consensus on priorities

Conservation and Associate Maori Affairs Minister Hon Sandra Lee has urged the inaugural meeting of the Hauraki Gulf Forum in Auckland today to come to a quick consensus on priorities.

Ms Lee, who is also Minister of Local Government, said the challenge was for the agencies and groups represented on the Forum to move beyond the basic functions of receiving reports and sharing information, to devising effective approaches on key issues like monitoring water quality.

"One of the difficulties of past attempts to come up with an integrated management structure has been the myriad of agencies involved, " she said.

"But I am confident the Forum can devise appropriate procedures to facilitate imput from all groups with an involvement," Ms Lee said.

"It is significant that the new Hauraki Gulf Forum provides a setting where local authorities, tangata whenua and crown agencies can sit around the table as equals, and discuss issues involving the management and care of important sites," the Minister said.

"There has been a high level of interest from a wide range of groups in having representation on the Forum," Ms Lee said. "I am already receiving expressions of interest on the few vacancies that will occur in 12 and 24 months time, and I have given assurances there will continue to be broad consultation before appointments are made."

The Forum has been set up under the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act which was passed in February to coordinate statutory functions and integrate the management of all land which drains into the Hauraki Gulf, to protect the surrounding waters.

It is also specifically required by law when carrying out its functions to have particular regard to the historic, traditional, cultural and spiritual relationship of tangata whenua with the natural, historic and physical resources of the Hauraki Gulf, its islands and catchments.

"The Government has recognised that the Hauraki Gulf is a special place," said Ms Lee. "It is rich in natural resources and rich in history; but it is also the busiest commercial and recreational waterway in New Zealand. The run-off from our largest metropolitan city and most intensively farmed catchment drains into the Gulf. The wise integrated management of this area is a matter of national significance."

Ms Lee said the Forum brings together 15 agencies with decision-making powers which affect the quality of the Hauraki Gulf and the life that it sustains. It also brings to the table for the first time six tangata whenua representatives.

"Their brief is to 'cooperate and integrate' so that future generations have a Gulf worthy of their praise and thanks," she said.

"I wish the Forum well with its endeavours and urge them to focus on the tasks at hand with energy and commitment."

ends

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