First region-wide climate adaptation strategy adopted in Northland

Published on 11 May 2022

Flooding

Te Tai Tokerau councils celebrated a unique milestone in April after the adoption of New Zealand’s first region-wide climate adaptation strategy.   

The Te Tai Tokerau Climate Adaptation Strategy was developed by Climate Adaptation Te Tai Tokerau (CATT), a joint council working group, under the governance of the Joint Climate Change Adaptation Committee. The Strategy was formally adopted in April by the Northland Regional Council, Whangarei District Council, Kaipara District Council and Far North District Council, in a move that will allow the alignment of climate adaptation work across Northland.  

At the heart of the Strategy lie 46 Priority Actions across four key areas of growing relationships, improving knowledge and understanding, reducing risk and vulnerability, and building capacity. These Priority Actions form a framework to ensure council strategy and planning work is developed with community resilience and climate adaptation at its core.  

Councillor Amy McDonald, of Northland Regional Council, is Chair of the Joint Climate Change Adaptation Committee, sitting alongside elected members from each council and tangata whenua representatives. 

“This strategy is the culmination of four years of collaborative mahi with iwi and hapū representatives, elected members and council staff from across Northland. It’s an ever-evolving piece of work and, as such, the Te Tai Tokerau Climate Adaptation Strategy is very much a living document. It gives us the foundations and connections we need to have meaningful engagement with our communities to plan for managing the effects of our changing climate.” 

For Delaraine Armstrong, Te Orewai hapū of Ngāti Hine and Deputy Chair of Climate Adaptation Te Tai Tokerau, this strategy represents the beginning of a journey where tangata whenua will need to make their voices heard.  

“The rhetoric of tangata whenua involvement must be genuinely enabled and supported. However, this responsibility doesn’t sit only with non-Māori.  

“Tangata whenua must step into the space we demand and provide clear advice and structural options for a new framework to work with councils. The beginning of this journey in Tai Tokerau is reflective of the willingness to do that, but far more resource is needed to build capability and capacity with tangata whenua, communities and workforces.” 

Recently released data from the NZ SeaRise project on sea level rise and vertical land movement has revealed the impacts of climate change will be felt much sooner than originally projected in some locations. This means tangata whenua, wider communities and local governments will need to coordinate and initiate adaptation and mitigation actions as soon as possible.  

Tom FitzGerald, Manager of Climate Change for Northland Regional Council and a core member of Climate Adaptation Te Tai Tokerau, is determined to increase public awareness of the real-life impacts of climate change in Northland. 

“Te Tai Tokerau is in a very good position right now to coordinate an integrated regional response. The first step is for our communities to have access to climate change data, develop a shared understanding of the potential impacts on their local area, and for communities to have their chance to feed into and guide this climate adaptation planning work.  

“Our first community adaptation planning project, led by Kaipara District Council, is already underway in the Ruawai and Raupō communities. I urge everyone to take the time to read this strategy, and to begin thinking about how we can work with you and your community on this journey.” 

The Te Tai Tokerau Climate Adaptation Strategy is available online:

www.catt.org.nz 

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