In 2019, the Neureuter’s hopes for restoring the marine ecosystem received a major boost with the formation of The Noises Marine Restoration Project, a partnership between the family trust, Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum and the University of Auckland.
The partnership was formed in part thanks to a Gulf Innovation Fund Together (GIFT) grant from Foundation North. Funding has also been generously provided by Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy and C&L Gregory Charitable Trust, and the Museum and University of Auckland generously give their time in-kind.
The ambition for The Noises Marine Restoration Project is bold:
To enable restoration and regeneration of the marine environment surrounding The Noises islands, to deliver holistic protection of the land and the sea.
Inspired by the vision of Sea Change, we see this work being about the revitalisation of mauri. This is our kaupapa.
The Project team has commissioned several streams of work, including:
- Scientific surveys. Led by University of Auckland’s Dr Tim Haggitt and Dr Nick Shears this survey work is being used to map an effective marine protected area. We’re building a marine biodiversity dataset for The Noises which can be used to make comparisons to other locations in the Hauraki Gulf.
- Monitoring framework. The Museum is developing a long-term monitoring programme to track biodiversity and ecological changes at The Noises – using biological indicators in the terrestrial and marine environments.
- Mātauranga Maori framework. We are also developing tohu/indicators of change, working alongside iwi and the Neureuter family who have intimately observed The Noises environment for generations.
- Archaeology. The Museum has undertaken several midden digs to confirm time-frames of occupation and indicate the historical, environmental state of the Hauraki Gulf.
- Kina removal trial. Ōtata Island is one of three trial projects led by the University to remove approximately 100,000 kina (sea urchins) across a 1 hectare area. A rangatahi engagement programme was included to enable youth participation and to support knowledge building.
- Iwi engagement. We are continuing to create opportunities for re-connection to The Noises for iwi and, in doing so, ensure that the islands and the surrounding marine environment are accessible and familiar.
- A proposal for marine protection. Our team is in the early stages of developing a proposal for marine protection around The Noises. This includes an assessment of the policy and regulatory tools available to achieve this.
- Stakeholder outreach. The Project recently initiated a stakeholder communications programme and the family have generously hosted many groups over the summer months, including politicians and decision-makers.
Aerial view of The Noises. Photo: Shaun Lee.