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Ngāti Manuhiri Welcomes Government Funding To Address Exotic Caulerpa Seaweed Infestation

Ngāti Manuhiri Settlement Trust (the Trust) welcomes the Government's announcement of a $5 million funding boost to fight the invasive seaweed, exotic caulerpa.

First discovered near Aotea Great Barrier in 2021, exotic caulerpa is a foreign seaweed that forms dense mats across the seabed, smothering native plants and disrupting the fragile marine ecosystems that our kai moana, like crayfish and scallops, rely on.

The Trust has been working to rid Te Moananui-ā-Toi/the Hauraki Gulf of this pest since July 2023, when it was discovered to have spread to Iris Shoal near Kawau Island. Nicola MacDonald, Acting Chief Executive of the Trust, says the Government’s investment is a welcome sign it is listening to mana whenua about the seriousness of this biosecurity risk.

“It’s great to see the Government stepping up and investing in the development of technologies that aim to rid our moana of exotic caulerpa.”

“We are particularly pleased to see there will be an advanced trial to further test local elimination at Iris Shoal. The Trust has been intensely focused on removing caulerpa from this site, using our own boats and resources to survey the waters and raising awareness of caulerpa in our community to reduce its spread.”

Ms MacDonald says the removal method chosen is crucial to ensuring the health of the moana can be restored.

“We have avoided removal techniques like chlorine and synthetic benthic mats that can cause further upset to the natural balance of our moana, so the Government’s investment in less destructive technologies is a welcome step towards eradication of the invasive seaweed.”

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Ms MacDonald also welcomes recognition of the efforts by iwi and hapū throughout the motu to combat caulerpa and says there is much to gain from inputting local knowledge and experiences into wider national strategies and management of caulerpa removal.

“We support the decision to establish a steering group to assist in coordinating on the ground efforts to eliminate exotic caulerpa. Iwi and hapū, alongside their local communities, have been leading the charge on caulerpa removal and we know there is much to be gained by sharing knowledge in this space.”

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