Archive for the 'Environmental Issues' Category

Eliminating pest plants on Waitītiko

July 3rd, 2019

Yesterday STEPS and our friends the Freelance Moth Plant Removers had a third session in a large property at the top of the Waititiko Meola catchment.  Margaret and Camilla worked around the wetland; Jeremy and Oliver worked back along the watercourse (source of Meola Creek), and Jean, Keith, Sel, Neil, Shannon and Liz went along the western boundary to remove moth plant pods before they could burst. We hope we prevented millions of future plants!


The weeds had become entrenched since the gardener of many years moved on. Both moth plant (Araujia  hortorum) and woolly nightshade ( Solanum mauritianum) are listed as pest plants by Auckland Council.   We plan to soon finish off many woolly nightshades which are still there in order to provide the owner with a clear starting point for containing these weeds.  Unfortunately each araujia pod may have 1000 seeds and the ground will now be covered in seedlings for many more years.

The top of the catchment is a critical point for transmitting weeds down to the neighbours and wider catchment. This is the last of four large watershed properties to commit to managing weeds and we have been delighted by the enthusiasm of staff volunteers. Because we don’t want to repeat this effort here we now plan to work with the gardening management and team to prevent recurrences.


Thanks so much to Jean who organised us and provided photos;  and to Keith and those who brought gear; Shannon for materials and for joining us and of course our large professional gang who did all the work – the largest so far according to Jean!

“They also serve who only stand and watch admiringly”😃

Auckland Council Healthy Waters stormwater network discharge consent

June 19th, 2019

On 16 April 2019 Auckland Council commissioners granted Auckland Council Healthy Waters a network discharge consent for the diversion and discharge consent for all of the existing and future stormwater discharge from the public stormwater network.  Here is the decision.

While we appreciated the public notification and we supported the goal of aligning the range of HW stormwater consents into one framework, STEPS had submitted jointly with Oakley Creek opposing several aspects of this consent. We consider that “all future stormwater discharge” is far too broad given the problematic situation now. Further we see no standards for what can be discharged.

Following our submissions, we were later shocked at the lack of consultation with residents and groups such as STEPS. Special follow up sessions were held by Healthy Waters consent team with various corporate groups who had concerns, but none with other submitters such as Forest and Bird, SASOC (Stop Auckland Sewage Overflows Coalition) or STEPS.   On 31 May STEPS and Friends of Oakley Creek jointly became section 274 participants to the appeals of both Forest and Bird and SASOC, to try to achieve some more balance and involvement of ratepayers in the discharge consent process.  For us this is about clean water, as stormwater is the major driver of pollution in Meola Creek.

Caring for Waitītiko Meola Creek

March 14th, 2019

The photos below were taken on 14 March at Norgrove Reserve, Mt Albert.  They show an unhealthy oily scum on Waitītiko Meola Creek, just below the  1 kilometer pipe coming from the Roy Clements Treeway. We were alerted by a local resident who had seen the problem growing over 2-3 days. We logged the problem (INR60218869) with Auckland Council Pollution Hotline., and  5 or 6 hours later received advice from Auckland Council.

This was not a sewer overflow situation.  The officer stated that both PH and ammonia measures were neutral. Therefore they could take no further action. They assumed it was pollen.

According to the pollen calendar from Massey University, gorse and privet are the most likely pollens in March. Chamberlain Park rock forest, on the opposite right bank at this same location is riddled with a dominant canopy of mature tree privet 10+ meters tall. While Auckland Council states that “Auckland Council controls tree privet in regional parks and in parks with high-value ecosystems” they do nothing at this location to manage pests like privet or even possums and rats. The rock forest is an outstanding natural feature, and the privet is complemented by a few mature titoki trees, with an understorey of puriri, kawakawa and other natives typical of a healthy lava rock forest. Less than 1% of an estimated 5000 Ha or lava rock forest remains in Auckland. We expect that with the significant budget and resource expansion of from the targeted rate for the natural environment, Auckland Council would hold true to its word and control this privet.

The Asthma foundation lists privet as a trigger for asthma, and with 100,000 people in Albert Eden local board area and more than 33 people per Hectare it seems to us that control of privet would be another significant health issue for the local population. [The pipe at this location is part of Auckland Council’s ownership, control and use of Waititiko Meola Creek as a vehicle for discharging sewer overflows when it rains. (See an article on Te Auaunga which also carries raw sewage, e-coli and piped stormwater.) STEPS sees combined sewers as the biggest environmental health issue for Auckland residents, and people who access streams, beaches and harbours.]

To compound these issues a judicial review  into Chamberlain Park redevelopment was lodged by golfing advocates pleading for their historic rights to an 18 hole public golf course. In June 2018 the High Court found in favour of Auckland Council who plan to allow access to Waititiko Meola Creek in Chamberlain Park. Currently this publicly owned stream in a publicly owned golf course is fenced off with no public access allowed ever. The Albert Eden Local Board required STEPS volunteers to cease our work in controlling privet and asparagus weed here.  The reason given was that the court might misinterpret our work as part of AC’s redevelopment. We believe it is time for Auckland Council to address and inform the public on exactly why we are not allowed into this unfenced area to carry out pest control work which their own staff are not doing.

STEPS asks:

  • Auckland Council recognise the high ecological value of the Waititiko  margin rock forest in its entirety
  • Auckland Council place a value on the health and well being of residents of Waitemata and Albert Eden Local Boards who have the densest populations in New Zealand
  • Auckland Council support STEPS volunteers to control pests including privet, rats and possums along Waititiko Meola Creek
  • Auckland Council and Watercare Services separate sewers and release Waititiko Meola Creek from the burden and threats of piped sewage from the upper reaches of both Waititiko Meola Creek and  Waiateao Motions Creek.

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