We have a beautiful natural environment, framed by our spectacular coastline, harbours, our maunga, islands and regional parks. Those are assets that must be sustained and protected for generations to come.
We need to make Auckland a place where our urban environment and lifestyle matches the quality of our natural environment. Good urban design and protecting our green open spaces is vital as the city intensifies.
Protecting our marine environment
Our harbours, the Gulf and more than a thousand beaches are the jewels in the crown of Auckland's environment. One sixth of Auckland households own a boat. As Aucklanders, part of our birthright has been access to clean water, relatively uncrowded beaches, and the chance to fish or gather shellfish. However, these are under threat.
The last two State of the Hauraki Gulf reports point to a deteriorating environment. Snapper stocks have declined to 19 percent, well below the 40 percent sustainability level. Sedimentation is damaging water quality and habitat in three quarters of the sites being monitored around the Gulf.
Government plans to make the inner Gulf a recreational fishing park will not make a sufficient difference. We need to end commercial trawling in the fish breeding areas, create more marine protected areas and establish better sediment and pollution control.
As Mayor, I will give clear and strong backing to the Sea Change agenda and to Auckland Council efforts to restore the Hauraki Gulf.
I support expanding the Marine Protected Areas which currently protect only 0.03 percent of the Gulf area. More protected areas are needed to help restore fish stocks.
Significant damage is being done by bottom trawling and Danish seine trawling. Auckland Council will work with central government and its agencies on initiatives to protect spawning grounds and eliminate damaging commercial fishing practices.
Riparian planting to stop sedimentation going into the Gulf and our harbours will be a key component of my campaign to plan a million trees in three years.
Auckland's State of the Environment Report late last year warned that nearly a third of the City's streams were of poor standard and 28 percent of swimming spots, at times, presented moderate to high risk of swimmers becoming sick.
Storm water infiltration of the wastewater system is a major cause of overflow and beach contamination. Construction of a new Central Interceptor and other capital works are needed as soon as possible to significantly reduce this problem.
Aquaculture is an important industry but must be located in areas where the water quality is high and it does not interfere with other users of the space. The part of the Hauraki Gulf from the North Shore to Mangawhai Spit should be retained for other uses.
Auckland's Port will not be allowed to encroach into the Waitemata Harbour with further reclamation.
Increased recycling and the reduction of waste going to landfills is already underway. Auckland needs new initiatives to achieve its aspirational goal of zero waste to landfill by 2040, set out in Auckland Council's Waste Management and Minimisation Plan.
Aucklanders use hundreds of millions of plastic bags each year. They are used on average for 12 minutes before they enter the waste stream as non-biodegradable rubbish.
Last year the United Kingdom introduced an equivalent 10 cents charge on all plastic bags used in supermarkets (with exceptions for some goods such as meat, fish and vegetables). The result was an 85 percent reduction in plastic bag use. This replicated in cities around the world which have taken this action. We need to do the same.
Charging for plastic bags cannot be introduced through bylaws. As Mayor I will with MPs to promote change through a Local Bill passed through Parliament.
Pollution from plastics is a serious problem worldwide with the eight million tonnes of plastics going into the world's oceans each year. That damages bird and fish life and the marine environment. Plastic is found in the digestive systems of 90 percent of the world's seabirds. Auckland and New Zealand must play our role to reduce the amount of this going into the waste stream.
We will work with the Government to make the Waste Minimisation legislation more effective in relation to disposal of products such as tyres, chemicals, paint and electronic goods.
We will work to reduce methane producing organic waste from being dumped in landfills.
A Million Trees Programme
I have announced an urban forestation programme for Auckland which aims to plant a million, predominantly native, trees and shrubs across the region over three years. The goal is to green our city, offset carbon emissions, protect our water quality by planting along rivers and coastlines and improve our living environment.
Local boards, schools, service and social sector groups, private entities, farmers, Department of Conservation, New Zealand Transport Association and developers are just some of the organisations which already plant trees and shrubs around the region. The Council’s role will be to coordinate and help provide an overall strategy around which tree species are planted and where.
As Mayor, I will ensure Council works alongside all of these groups to facilitate the planting of a million trees in three years.
Auckland Council will budget $1 million each year to fund its contribution to the Million Trees Programme. The fund will be used to provide practical support and coordination and to expand existing planting programmes. We will off-set costs by partnering with government agencies, NGOs, private sector sponsors, iwi and other groups.
Addressing global warming
Climate change poses a major threat to the world's and New Zealand's environment. We urgently need to reduce carbon emissions and create carbon sinks to meet the obligations we have taken on internationally under the Paris Agreement. With more than one-third of our country's population and the majority of its growth, Auckland has to play its part in tackling the problem.
Planting trees as carbon sinks under the Million Trees programme will help offset carbon emissions.
Reducing carbon emissions from transport is a key priority. We can do that by increasing public transport use with non-polluting electric trains and light rail, and building walk and cycle ways. We need to progressively convert petrol and diesel cars and buses to electric vehicles.
The Council should both encourage conversion of corporate fleets and reduce and convert over time its own fleet of 800 cars. To set an example, the Mayor's car should be electric.
Council will work with Auckland Transport to ensure obstacles to installation of EV charging systems and stations are removed and explore other ways to incentivise electric car use.
Green public spaces and reserves
As Auckland grows by up to a million more residents over the next 30 years, and housing becomes more intensified, it is critical that the city sustains and expands its green public open spaces and reserves.
Access to and viewshafts of significant environmental features of the city must be protected. This applies particularly to our volcanic cones maunga which are a key part of the city's identity. Crater Hill should not be built upon.
We should preserve and protect sensitive coast and estuarine areas, and not encroach on fertile agricultural areas such as Pukekohe.