Fantastic and inspiring story last week in the Waiheke Weekender (17 December) about local environmental heroes, the Neurenters who privately own The Noises – a group of little islands northwest of Waiheke Island and northeast of Motutapu and Rakino Islands.

These wonderful people take very seriously their responsibility to be kaitiaki (guardians) for the islands and their flora and fauna. They weed out pest plants, trap rats, cut the nets of fishermen that catch stingrays and have assisted research to map the flora and fauna on the islands. We so need people like them who are helping to protect and restore the fragile ecology of the Hauraki Gulf islands.

Map of Hauraki Gulf Marine Park

Map: Department of Conservation

The article also talked about their despair at the increasing desertification of the sea around us and it seems whilst we are getting better at protecting and restoring our land in the Gulf we haven’t yet begun to understand and grapple with the impact of the ongoing degradation of the marine environment in the Hauraki Gulf.

We so need to increase our marine reserves and protected areas, decrease the recreational catch and find ways to focus on restoration of the sea in the same way we have on the land. It will require many more champions for these environments and innovative new models to match the commitment we see on land.

Unfortunately for the ecology of the Gulf, most people don’t see below the water surface and understand the losses that we are facing in the food web. So make sure you support growth in marine reserves and protected areas and any projects that seek to improve the health of our marine environments.