Natural Environment  |  Taiao

The Natural Environment in Whaingaroa

The Natural Environment within the Whaingaroa area is diverse and comprises many types of natural habitat.
The Land – The area includes a range of land types with underlying rocks including limestone, volcanic and mudstones. The land varies from very steep and unstable to gentle fertile river valleys. The land has been largely cleared of forest, scrub and wetlands in the last 150 years and then developed for farming. The indigenous forest that remains today is mainly above 400m. Because of inherently unstable geology and lack of forest cover, many of the steep slopes of the catchment are prone to slips, gullying and sheet erosion. As a consequence, streams and rivers can carry high silt loads especially following the intense rainfall events experienced on the West Coast.
The forest covered Mt Karioi is the largest formally protected area in the catchment. Extensive predator control is currently being carried out on the maunga and surrounding land my the Karioi Maunga ke te Moana project.
The Harbour – The Whaingaroa harbour catchment covers 525 km2 and the harbour covers 35 km2 and has 220 km of coastline. It runs 12 km inland from the entrance, for the most part is less than 2 km wide. Many small streams draining the steep catchment join to form larger rivers such as the Waingaro, Kerikeri, Waitetuna, Wainui and others. These feed into the many arms of the Whaingaroa harbour. Raiparian fencing and planting by landowners and Whaingaroa Harbour care over the past 20 years has improved the water quality within the harbour.
The Coast – sand dunes, surf breaks (more info needed)
The People – The people of Whaingaroa live close to the land and sea, and many derive their livelihoods directly or indirectly from the surrounding natural resources. There are several high-profile environmental groups and organisations based in the area (detailed below), all working towards protecting Whaingaroa’s natural environment.

What topics were covered and who has been involved so far:

We appreciate all the work of the Focus Group members

Please note: this Snapshot report is a starting point for community-wide input and is not a finished or complete report. Your input will build on this report.

Topics Covered:

  • Native Environments
  • Biodiversity
  • Developments & Structures
  • Access & Activities
  • Views
  • Protecting Natural Character
  • Pollution
  • Climate Change
  • Ecosystems
  • Environmental Education
  • Ecological Awareness
  • Community Gardens
  • Planting

Who is contributing to this Snapshot

Anna Cunningham, WEC, Phil McCabe, Leanne Steel, John Lawson, Mike Moss, Kate Richardson, Wiea Van der Zwan, Hannah Mueller, Eleanor Gee, Ollie Gansell, Sam McElwee

Partners, organisations, people

  • Tangata Whenua
  • Whaingaroa Environment Centre
  • Xtreme Zero Waste
  • Whaingaroa Harbour Care
  • Karioi Maunga ki te Moana Project
  • Reserves Committee
  • KASM
  • Beachcare
  • Board Riders Club
  • Sport Fishing Club
  • Local Schools
  • MetOcean
  • eCoast
  • Waikato District Council
  • Waikato Regional Council
  • OC
  • West Coast Zone Committee
  • Waikato Biodiversity Forum

Natural Environment Strengths & Assets


  • Tangata Whenua – long history of environmental activism
  • Large, engaged and diverse volunteer base
  • Environmental professionals (skills in community)
  • Permaculture Community
  • Environmental / organic agriculturalists
  • Eco-tourists (visiting because of Raglan’s eco-reputation)
  • Passionate, supportive and engaged individuals and community


  • Whaingaroa Harbour – extensive and varied ecosystems
  • Karioi (one of 12 outstanding natural features and landscapes of regional significance)
  • Surf Breaks (national significance)
  • Coastline
  • Wetlands – Aro Aro,
  • Waireinga / Bridal Veil Falls
  • Reserves (list – see Appendix to WDC Reserves Plan and Access Map)
  • Raglan is surrounded by wild places, many with good access
  • Sand dune ecosystems
  • Hopes and Johnsons Bush on the deviation that receive intense pest control as they are halo sites and key in the Tui numbers increasing

Rare, unique and notable species

  • Maui Dolphin
  • Oi
  • Bats
  • Bitterns
  • Geckos


  • Maui Dolphin Day
  • Predator control network around town / coast / mountain
  • Many Environmental Education initiatives
  • Local environmental initiatives (e.g. PBFR) have positive impact on natural environment
  • Township is surrounded by wild places – connects people to natural environment. Attracts people to the area (to visit and to live)
  • Raglan has many success stories


  • Long tradition of community-driven environmental initiatives
  • Good community support for environmental initiatives
  • Many local businesses are environmentally aware

Future Challenges & Opportunities

Key challenges that are specific to the Natural Environment:

  • Resource exploitation leading to environmental degradation (e.g. seabed mining)
  • Biodiversity hazards (e.g. Myrtle Rust)
  • Agricultural run-off
  • Invasive plant species on both public and private land, challenging native species
  • Invasive animal species (including but not limited to rats, stoats, possum, feral cats, Canada geese, rainbow skinks, fallow deer, pigs (Karioi), goats (bridal veil bush)
  • Rubbish dumping
  • Increasing amounts of waste in the ocean being washed up on our shores – threat to wildlife and reducing enjoyment value of our wild spaces.
  • Unsustainable land-use practices (both urban and rural)

For the key challenges that need to be considered across all focus areas, these are the questions we are asking:


  • How does this challenge impact on the Natural Environment?
  • How does the Natural Environment impact this challenge?


  •  What is the opportunity for the Natural Environment in relation to this challenge?

The key challenges: (Please note that some of these sections are still to be completed.)

Climate change

Impact:  Loss of biodiversity and native habitats
Opportunity:  Environmental education re. positive changes that our community can make to reduce carbon emissions


Impact:  Reduced access to funding for environmental initiatives

Growth in visitor numbers

Impact: Greater stress on natural environments, leading to degradation. Greater stress on infrastructure, leading to increased pollution.
Opportunity:  Eco-tourism. Engage and inspire visitors with Raglan’s success stories. Increased funding for environmental initiatives through ‘tourist tax’ (e.g Able Tasman area).

Implementing the Treaty of Waitangi

Opportunity:  recognition of the unique status of Mana Whenua, respecting and honouring their knowledge and experience, and their cultural and spiritual values, in relation to the natural environment.


Impact:  Uncontrolled, poorly thought out town planning and urban/rural development places further strain on biodiversity.
Opportunity: Increasing population within area means more people to engage in local environmental initiatives – more volunteer manpower.

Aspirations & Goals Identified by the Focus Groups with supporting projects, strategies and initiatives.  
(Please note that there may be areas that are still to be completed.)

Values behind the goals & aspirations
Aspirations vision for long term
& Goals measurable, specific, achievable
Different ways goals can be achieved
Projects & Initiatives
Specific actions, responsibility, funding
with other Focus Areas
Protection of our wildlife and natural habitats from further degradation, and enhancement where possible. ● No storm water or waste water discharge to sea
● Reduction of plant and animal pest species
● More restored forest areas mimicking Wainui bush reserve
● All harbour catchment waterways are appropriately fenced and planted in native species
● Restoration of wetlands
Development that protects and enhances the natural environment. ● Sound environmental urban / rural planning
● Landowners will implement land use practices that protect the soils and the water
● Planting of native species
● Eco Tourism
● Harbour wide development consents and riparian planting spaces taking into account changing sea levels.
● subdivisions in keeping with low key housing focused on ‘sustainable backyards’
Community and individual ownership of environmental problems ● Continued priority and resource for waste management, moving towards zero waste
● Environmental Education for all ages (adults and children)
● Community is aware of what is going on, and empowered to have their voices heard.
● Continue to be a national / global leader on environmental issues
● More local food production on a range of scales (backyard to commercial)
● Accessible green spaces
All plants, animals, fish and shellfish will be managed in such a way that the resource is protected for future generations to enjoy their use at the same levels as today (2018) and if possible restore the stocks to a better level than 2018.
Video for tourists & new residents – ‘this is how we do it in Raglan’ – inspiring habit changes for environmental protection. Tourism, Arts
Waste Water Treatment Plant upgrade – land based system, circular economy Infrastructure, Business
Walking track connecting township to Whale Bay – connects people to environment, encourages people out of cars Transport, Recreation, Infrastructure, Planning
Attention to pest plant species before they further overwhelm existing reserves spaces and private property.
Sand dunes planted and protected to act as natural buffer for sea-level rise / coastal erosion
Mixed ability access ways though all the reserve spaces, ie, wheelchair, pushchair, flat options.
Community Gardens

Questions from the Natural Environment Group

  1. What’s missing in our Snapshot

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