The Salt Marsh

Have you ever noticed that When a developer wants to Drain a Wetland they refer to it as a Swamp? This alternative title demeans its value, and in my view  this sublimely  influenced the Environment Court in its verdict.

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Geotechnical survey undertaken early 2007

As previously stated the red outline in the bottom picture demarks the original wetland. the green outline approximates the area that the Thames Coromandel District Council has filled in with dredgings since 1986.This was the same year that Bruce Scott, future (and current president of surfing New Zealand was elected to the Whangamata Community Board. In 1990, Scott requested that the Community Board again fill in the wetland, as the RMA was about to be enacted, and this could make it more difficult to do so, in the future.

During the Environment Court proceedings the Whangamata Marina Society presented an expert Witness, an ecologist by the name of Graham Don, Who stated that in his opinion (like so much of the Society’s  scientific advice) proclaimed that;

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“The Salt marsh area is significantly compromised, and that the pattern of quality diminuation is likely to accelerate as more and more residential activities establishes in the vicinity, particularly within the HEDPA (Housing, Extra Density Policy Area). all witnesses agreed that without engineering intervention, the salt marsh will dry up of its own accord due to the relatively rapid rate of siltation that has been accelerated since construction of the adjacent causeway.”

This diminuation of the wetland is mostly responsible from Bruce Scott promoting the filling in of the wetland since 1986.

Earlier this year (2007)The Marina Society carried out its first (incomplete) geotechnical survey of the proposed Marina Basin and found an Aquifer where they wish to Dig. The Aquifer Originates in the Salt marsh. And it would appear that the dumping of dredging’s  by TCDC since 1986 has caused a bund, (marked in Yellow) or a  heaving event (when you put fill on top of an Aquifer, It pushes down, and rises the ground up somewhere else) The Marina Society have  yet to release their full findings, yet it is now obvious they will not be able to keep within the turbidity parameters set down in the Consent to protect the Kai moana beds.

in October 2005, the day after the Court case finished, a group of marina society members and their supporters, organised by Simon Friar, and TCDC councillors Jan Bartley and  Jack Wells,cleared the mangroves illegally, this action was also enjoined by Sandra Goudie, National M.P. for Coromandel.  for the first of many times.  They were warned to stop by correspondence from WRC but they continued.  Investigations were called and as a result of those investigations indigenous coastal reptiles were also found in the close vicinity, suggesting that they were in the whole area.  The Court had yet to make its final decision.   From my understanding the WRC, TCDC, DoC, never put before the Court or the two ministers that the surroundings had been significantly changed by mangrove removal and the “discovery” of indigenous coastal reptiles. It is now being suggested that the Whangamata indigenous coastal reptiles (Mokomoko) have qualities unique to them.

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Any one who studied the Whangamata saltmarsh would know that it was a freshwater wetland with periodic flooding of saltwater, usually about 5 days every lunar (tidal) cycle.  The Environment Court determined that the enhancement site was mitigation for this wetland.  When the Environment Court visited, it was surrounded by a mangrove forest and they made an assumption, correctly or otherwise, that it was suitable as an enhancement site as it would have the periodic inundation of saltwater that a saltmarsh requires. 

This was the submission of the marina society, WRC (EW)  and TCDC which the Court accepted.  The Iwi grouping said it wouldn’t work and should be thrown out or at least,  utilising the precautionary approach, should have had a trial planting first.  This idea was rejected by the marina society, WRC and TCDC and after submission the Court also rejected it.

Thoroughly, and exhaustively tested through the courts…

 

 

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