Planning for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation for Akaroa Harbour

Te Kori a te Kō is a name that is inspired by our past. It reaches back into our origin stories and gives voice to our special connection to the whenua (land) and moana (ocean).

Te Kori a te Kō gives specific reference to Rākaihautū, an early and important explorer of Aotearoa from Eastern Polynesia. It is said that Rākaihautū along with his Kō Tūwhakarōria (digging implement) carved and sculpted our southern whenua and moana, including Akaroa, to provide sustenance for future generations as well as beautify our place, our tūrangawaewae. It is from this deep and rich well of history that we look to the past to define our future by awakening Tūwhakarōria and continuing the work of Rākaihautū to ensure a sustainable future.


E hoki mai rā koe

Titī whakatai arorua

E hoki mai rā koe

Ki Ōtepātātū

Ki te pā whakatangi e

Ki te kōauau

Ki tauwene ai

I raro I auē

Titī whakatai arorua

E hoki mai rā koe

O Titī, bird of the sea’

Bird of the hilltop cave,

Come back to Ōtepātātū

To the lofty dwelling

Where the sweet sounds are heard

The sounds of the faery flute,

The music of the mountains

That thrilled me through and through

This whakatauāki, written by Teone Taare Tikao, captures the mystery and magic of this area. It laments the loss of the titī and wishes for their return, and with them, the return of the music of the mountains.

Key points:

  • Global warming is the rapid increase in Earth’s average surface temperature, resulting primarily from the greenhouse gases released from the burning of fossil fuels.  The increase in temperature is already affecting weather patterns, seasonality, and the melting of the polar caps.  These changes are locked in and will increase with severity for many hundreds of years to come.
  • It is increasingly clear that we face change that will put many of our homes, livelihoods, vulnerable whānau and community, the places we connect to, and the ecosystems on which we depend for survival at risk.
  • There are two things we need to do:
    • 1. Prepare for the changes that will impact our way of life.
    • 2.  Help create a zero-carbon world to ensure a habitable planet for future generations.
  • Ōnuku Rūnanga has taken the initiative and responsibility to lead the process of preparing our whānau and our community for the challenges ahead.  Over the next three years, we will collaborate with Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Christchurch City Council, Environment Canterbury, and local community groups to develop a climate change adaptation plan for Akaroa Habour.
  • To keep whānau informed about the process, Ōnuku Rūnanga will post the latest climate change information and upcoming events on their website and FB page. Events such as wananga, planting days and education programs will be posted well before the event.  We will also be establishing a rangatahi climate change leadership group that will help us to deliver a webinar series of our climate change adaptation journey, from learning about how climate change will impact us, to exploring innovative ways to reduce our carbon footprints and prepare our whānau, our whare and our communities for the wide range of threats coming our way.
  • Ōnuku Rūnanga represents the hapū of Ngāi Tārewa and Ngāti Irakehu who are the tāngata whenua of the takiwā which covers the Akaroa Harbour, surrounding coastal environment and hills as defined by the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998.  Ōnuku Rūnanga have the responsibility to act as kaitiaki over these lands.

More about the plan and proposed framework:

We have the opportunity to prepare an integrated mahinga kai management and Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Plan for Akaroa Harbour. This could be the first example of a ki uta ki tai (catchment), whānau focused, climate change plan that centres on mahinga kai. The aspiration for the plan is that it:

  • Integrates both top-down and bottom-up frameworks: top-down frameworks are mainly designed to help understand the potential long-term impacts of climate change (using global models), whereas bottom-up frameworks are more focused on adaptation at local level.
  • Is whānau focused – we want this to be a local adaptation plan. Climate impacts are manifested locally, as such, we need local solutions to help reduce vulnerability and to enhancing whānau and community resilience and well-being.
  • To be user friendly, and can be applied at a range of scales, whānau (what we can do at home, what we can do at the marae), ki uta ki tai (what we can do within the Akaroa catchment – ie. support and initiate reforestation, advocate for policy change, plan for impacts on key infrastructure and retreat, investigate kelp farming and other initiatives which will support harbour health and carbon reduction), through to advocating for wider policy change, more sustainable forms of transport, energy and development.
  • Protect landscapes of cultural significance – wāhi tapu, urupā, pa and kainga and other sites of significance. There are many sites of cultural and spiritual significance to mana whenua within Akaroa harbour, many of these will be vulnerable to coastal erosion and sea level rise.
  • We want to prepare now – early action saves on damage later and helps us to be better equipped to face the changes ahead.

“Mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei.”

For us, and our children after us.

The plan will weave together four interconnected action areas:

  1. Kaitiakitanga – this is the ongoing safeguarding and enhancement of mauri within our natural environment, with the aim that Akaroa Harbour and the surrounding landscape is passed down to future generations in a state which is as good or better than its current state.
  2. Mātauranga taiao - building knowledge of our changing environment and enhancing our capacity and capability in mahinga kai are both critical components of building whānau and community resilience.
  3. Mitigation - deals with the causes of climate change and identifies ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  4. Adaptation – this action area deals with the unavoidable impacts of climate change and identifies ways to reduce vulnerability to build resilience.