Tauranga City Council has agreed to work with the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to explore the possibility of a future managed retreat of polluting industries from the Hewletts Road industrial area in Mount Maunganui.
The Whareroa Marae community has called for a cross-agency approach to deal with air quality impacts and other issues arising from industrial activities in its neighbourhood.
Tauranga City Council and Bay of Plenty Regional Council have been working with government agencies including WorkSafe, Toi Te Ora, the Ministry for the Environment, and the Whareroa community, to consider a number of issues stemming from the close proximity of industry to the marae’s longstanding kainga (village) residential activities.
That follows a presentation by representatives of the Marae in June 2020 to the Tauranga Moana Advisory Group (TMAG), which then recommended:
“The urgent development of an Action Plan in collaboration with Whareroa marae hau kainga, and as a first step: commission an independent, comprehensive report to investigate the potential for instigating a managed retreat of pollutant industries from the Totara Rd site south of Hewletts Road and report back to this committee when completed.”
As the authority responsible for land use and the zoning of the area, TCC has agreed to seek an initial scoping and issues report to consider options for a potential future managed retreat.
BOPRC is responsible for air quality management and last week agreed to commission a health study, in conjunction with the Bay of Plenty District Health Board and Western Bay Primary Health Organisation, to assess the impact of air pollution on Whareroa residents.
Tauranga Mayor, Tenby Powell says the build-up of industry around the Marae over many decades has clearly had an impact on the Whareroa community’s wellbeing.
“There are a number of issues in play here, such as relationships between councils and tangata whenua, potential human health impacts of the wider community and significant commercial interests,” he says.
“It is important that all parties work together to understand the issues and find solutions. It will also be important to find ways to mitigate any impacts through air quality improvements in the short- to medium-term.”