Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
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Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Anglers undeterred by pollution warning at Auckland’s Māngere Bridge

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
A public health warning sign at the entrance to the new Ngā Hau Māngere bridge, which opened in August last year. Stephen Forbes / Stuff
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Local Democracy Reporting | Free Public Interest News Service

A public health warning against people fishing and swimming remains in place in Auckland’s Māngere Bridge after recent extreme weather events.

But despite the fact it has the backing of the Auckland Regional Public Health Service, the message doesn’t appear to be getting through to some.

According to Watercare, an increase in the groundwater level in Māngere Bridge’s Waterfront Rd area due to the Auckland Anniversary floods and Cyclone Gabrielle, had led to an overflow of wastewater in some places.

As a result it placed public health warning signs in the surrounding area last week and at the entrance to the new Ngā Hau Māngere bridge, which opened in August last year.

The signs advise people against swimming and fishing in the area and the Safeswim website has black flagged Māngere Bridge due to the very high risk of illness from swimming.

Watercare says it has been testing the discharge twice daily to check the contamination of the water.

But on Wednesday afternoon there was a steady stream of anglers turning up at Ngā Hau Māngere bridge to try their luck.

Māngere resident John Fito wasn’t concerned about the public health warning.

“I’ve fished here for almost 20 years,” he said. “I just don’t eat the shellfish.”

Māngere resident John Fito who was fishing at Ngā Hau Māngere bridge on Wednesday wasn’t concerned about the public health warning advising people not to fish or swim in the area. Photo: Stephen Forbes / Stuff

But he admitted he wasn’t aware of the warning to not fish in the area.

Papakura resident Manuel Tawhai said he fished at the Ngā Hau Māngere bridge quite regularly. He said he knew about the warning.

“I’m not really concerned about it because I cook any fish I catch. But it would be a different story if I was eating raw fish.”

But Tawhai said he didn’t think the signs were very visible or big enough and some people might not be aware of the public health warning.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service medical officer of health Dr David Sinclair said people swimming or eating food from polluted water were at a greater risk of contracting gastroenteritis, as well as skin, eye and respiratory infections.

“In addition, marine life in the Māngere inlet may be contaminated by chemicals such as heavy metals in runoff from industrial areas and roads,” he said.

“Please do not swim, fish or gather watercress where there are health warning signs or black flags on the Safeswim website.”

In a statement, a spokesperson from Watercare said it was continuing to monitor the situation and had erected signs last week to warn the public of the health risks associated with fishing and swimming in the area.

“The water table in the area around Waterfront Rd in Māngere Bridge has risen significantly since the recent extreme weather events, and as a result, the local wastewater network has been inundated with groundwater infiltration.

“To prevent wastewater overflowing onto private property, we sought permission from Auckland Council to set up a bypass pump from our wastewater network to the stormwater network that discharges into the Manukau Harbour nearby.”

But the spokesperson said it didn’t know at this stage when the public health warning would be lifted.

Local democracy reporting

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