A public meeting on mangroves in January was "packed" and provided valuable feedback, says Coromandel MP Scott Simpson, pictured addressing the gathering.

Mangroves are bearing seeds at an unprecedented rate in Whangamata Harbour, say the volunteers who have managed their growth for more than two decades.

Whangamatā Harbour Care is seeking helpers to reduce the proliferation of mangrove growth which they say will limit areas for recreation such as kayak and dingy sailing if left unchecked.

Harbour Care was established in 1997 and is a group of volunteers that do nothing illegal, but follow the strict protocols and policies put in place by Waikato Regional Council around mangrove removal.

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"We're restricted severely by WRC and their consents, and we're a compliant group.
"We're not clandestine," says chairman John McCoombe.

"We can't take out mature mangroves but we can proceed under the regional council's resource consent as we have been doing, to remove seedlings."

A special rate is levied on Whangamatā ratepayers for mangrove management.

However the actual removal is done mostly by volunteers.

Help is sought for people to assist with removal on Sunday 14 July starting at 9.30 am.
Helpers are asked to ensure they have suitable footwear, like gumboots or old sandshoes, gloves and bring tools like weed eaters, chop or push hoe or loppers.

Following the work, participants will be rewarded with sausages and onions, or bacon and egg sandwiches and tea or coffee.

John says the group is just getting on with the removals while local authorities continue to draft up their management plans.

A mangrove management bill proposed by Thames-Coromandel and Hauraki councils has been put on hold until further notice in Parliament.

The bill, drafted by Mayor Sandra Goudie, sought to make it easier and less costly to remove mangroves throughout Coromandel and Hauraki districts.

But a Government select committee added a new layer of bureaucracy to the process for managing mangroves in the harbour and the bill has since been parked.

"Mangroves, meanwhile, just keep growing faster," says John.

"If we just stop for two or three years, because they're such magnificent colonisers, and the seabed has changed so much, you don't need to be a scientist to see what is happening.

"We've got plants 40cm high bearing seeds, and they're juvenile.

"I've never seen that before."

Coromandel MP Scott Simpson says he has had "no clear direction" from Thames-Coromandel District Council on whether to proceed with the bill after changes made by the select committee.

Hauraki District Council had withdrawn its support for the bill, he says.

"It is currently on hold and I'm awaiting clear instruction on how to proceed with TCDC now that HDC has withdrawn.

"Hauraki District Council had a look at it and said 'we don't want to be part of this anymore' so they've pulled out.

"What I'm looking for is a clear, equivocal direction from Thames Coromandel councillors whether they want to proceed or not."

He said following the changes to the bill as proposed: "We are probably better off with what we've got than running the risk of something worse being presented to us, and that's the possibility if this proceeds."

In the meantime the mangrove seedling removals continue.

Harbour Care volunteers not only remove mangrove seedlings according the regional council's strict consents, but also carry out predator control around the harbour.

Anyone interested should meet under the awning on the helicopter reserve off Hetherington Rd by the causeway bridge, weather permitting.

For more information phone 0274 33 0461 or 07 865 8009 or 027 4422 38