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Climate Change Action Plan Released

Kaipara District’s coastline winds from the wild West Coast Ripiro Beach into the impressive Kaipara Harbour and over to the beautiful Mangawhai Estuary and scenic East Coast. The coast borders some of Aotearoa’s most fertile land and skirts significant rural develop. The beaches and harbour are an important community asset with many unique characteristics and natural qualities we want to preserve for future generations to enjoy.

But unfortunately, like many coastal communities around Aotearoa, Kaipara faces significant environmental challenges caused by changing climate and associated rising sea levels. For example, more intense and frequent drought, more extreme rainfall causing land instability and slips, increasingly severe cyclones, a 1% rise in average temperature by 2040, a 0.3m sea level rise in the next 24-40 years causing damage to all manner of property, 10-20 more heatwave days by 2040, and sea acidification.

Along with the changes there are also opportunities, which Kaipara District Council is acting on with the release of the Kaipara Ki Tua Climate Smart Strategic Framework.

The framework’s Climate Change Advisor Katy Simon says, “we have the chance to act now to not only adapt to the changes, but also to support transitioning to low emissions and curbing further change”.

Katy notes that while it’s still uncertain how significant these challenges will be and how quickly they will happen, there is now enough information to start planning and actioning. “The Kaipara Ki Tua Climate Smart Strategic Framework puts a programme of climate change work together to understand and plan for the impacts of the climate change and support the low emissions transition.”

Kaipara Ki Tua translates to ‘Kaipara into the future’ and Mayor Dr Jason Smith believes it could not have come at a better time.

“Our home is changing. Kaipara’s climate is changing. Average temperatures are rising, both in the air and the water. Rainfall patterns are shifting, and recent-year trends show Poutō and the Oneriri Peninsula west of Kaiwaka have the lowest rainfall levels in Northland.”

“There are increasing drought conditions, but also stronger storms and heavier rainfall in shorter amounts of time. The chemical balance in the seas and oceans is shifting and growing more acidic. Sea levels are predicted to increasingly rise, a new challenge for communities here between the two oceans and two harbours of Kaipara District,” said Mayor Smith.

These changes are predicted to have big impacts on the health and wellbeing of Kaipara people and on Kaipara’s land and waters.”

Katy Simon adds that there’s a common misconception that rising temperatures mean nicer weather. Instead, she says the weather will become more extreme and more unpredictable.

“A changing climate affects our economies, our built environments, our cultures, our health, our lifestyles, and the ecosystems and natural world that surrounds us. We are seeing and experiencing these effects now. Generations to come will continue to feel the impacts,” says Katy.

“For Council’s work, a changing climate will impact services to our communities. Increases in extreme weather and sea level rise (SLR) will impact our stormwater drainage schemes, our flood management systems, our roading and pathways, and our water supply schemes. It may also impact our domains, reserves, and parks.”

Two approaches are laid out in the framework for the climate change mahi to come – mitigation and adaption. The first means reducing our greenhouse gas footprint by finding different ways of functioning as a Council and by encouraging carbon removal / sequestration. It means supporting and enabling community to do the same.

“For Council, this could look like reducing our office waste or providing resources to help local businesses measure their emissions.”

Adaptation is about increasing the Kaipara District’s resilience and ability to thrive in a changing environment. Katy says it involves planning for how we grow, develop, and make decisions on how best respond to climate change. “Adaptation allows us to look for opportunities to thrive as we face the challenges. For Council, this could look like using climate change projections to help make decisions on locations and designs of future infrastructure such as parks, roads, stormwater drains or community buildings.”

These approaches will be planned out in detail via the Climate Change Work Programme, which is mapped via three Council work streams including the Climate Smart Policy, Climate Action, and Adaptive Pathways Planning.

“The Climate Smart Policy sets standards and guidelines for how Council understands climate change and applies climate change considerations in our work and decisions. The Climate Action Plan commits Council to short, medium- and long-term actions to reduce emissions and grow resilience. Short term actions will be operative, focused on getting our own house in order. Medium-long term actions will focus on bigger changes.”

“These actions will be identified with the wider Kaipara community, Mana Whenua partners and Tangata Whenua. And finally, the Adaptive Pathways Planning covers making decisions on adaptation with coastal communities most at-risk to climate change impacts. Council will work alongside communities, Mana Whenua partners and key stakeholders to design and implement future pathways. Adaptive Pathways Planning is also a part of the future Te Tai Tokerau Climate Adaptation Strategy.”

Adaptive Pathways Planning is not new to local government nationally. It is being used by regional and district councils in Wellington, Kapiti, Auckland, Hauraki, Thames Coromandel, Dunedin, Waikato, Whakatāne, Western Bay of Plenty, Hastings, Napier, Hawkes Bay, Hurunui and Christchurch.

Council will use its work streams to meet four goals including working with Kaipara communities towards a collective resilient and adaptive future; addressing climate change impacts and implications for resources, assets and services; identifying, disclosing, and reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions in line with the national emissions reduction target; and supporting communities and businesses to lower their emissions.

Additional climate change work is happening outside of the climate change work programme. This work is not directly a part of the climate change work programme, but it is connected and important. It includes the District Plan Review; improvements to flood management, stopbank and stormwater systems; improvements to water supply connections; and work within the Waste Minimalisation Plan.

You can download a copy of the Kaipara Ki Tua Climate Smart Strategic Framework, by visiting www.kaipara.govt.nz/climatechange


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