AUWAS WORTA : OUR WATER

This page is dedicated to auwas worta, our waters, and everything they provide for us. Specifically, this page will address the issues of water quality in the Emily Bay lagoon, and what we as a community can do to help ensure that our reef and ocean creatures stay healthy for many generations to come. 

On Norfolk, we have a multi-dimensional relationship with our waterways and our ocean. We rely on the waters to hydrate us, feed us, connect us and entertain us. For the Norfolk people of Polynesian descent, their generational reliance on a symbiotic relationship with the sea has forged a kinship that is woven into their identity. 

 

When you stand on Norfolk’s highest point you can see the ocean for a full 360 degrees. Our nearest neighbour, New Caledonia, lies almost 1,000km away. If you travel towards the southern tip of Norfolk, you will find Kingston, or Daun'Taun as it is known locally. Kingston is World Heritage Listed for its historical significance, and it is also the location of our famous Emily Bay lagoon. 

 

For over five decades, there have been concerned voices trying to raise awareness of the water quality issues in the lagoon. The freshwater runoff that channels into Emily Bay is laden with household and agricultural chemicals plus nutrients from human and animal faeces, and this has caused an inevitable decline in reef health. The increased rainfall of the past year has exacerbated the harmful affects, and we have been warned that should this continue, we may see a collapse of the lagoon ecosystem.

 

We need to miekhies (act now) before it is too late. 

 

Many of you have come to this page after watching the film ‘Just One Turtle’. This film centres around Doris, a sick Green Sea Turtle who was rescued from the lagoon. If you haven’t seen this film, you can find it at the bottom of this page. In this film, Hannah Taylor made some recommendations to the community that could help support the health of our lagoon. The Norfolk Wave team would like to elaborate on Hannah's advice, and provide some additional support for auwas community, so that we can all work together towards a solution. It will take effort from all levels, from the individual to the government, to ensure that our lagoon remains healthy for many generations to come! 

Do you want to lessen your impact on auwas marine environment? Think about these FOUR things!

YOUR BODY
YOUR BODY
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YOUR WATER
YOUR WATER
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YOUR LAND
YOUR LAND
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YOUR CURIOSITY
YOUR CURIOSITY
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YOUR BODY

  • Reduce the use of sunscreen where possible, by wearing other forms of sun protections such as rash shirts. For exposed skin areas, wear reef-safe sunscreen. Several shops in town stock reef-safe sunscreen...and if they don't - tell them how important it is!

  • Think about how you move in the marine environment. Take care not to damage the reef or ocean creatures with your body, your board or motorised sea craft. 

  • Do not fish or harvest any marine life from Emily, Slaughter or Cemetery Bays. There is a delicate balance of life in the lagoons, and it has been the cultural understanding of many generations of Norf'k salan that these areas are to be protected.

  • Take any opportunity to remove any man-made debris away from the beach, and avoid taking plastics to the beach that may end up in the marine environment.

  • Volunteer in local beach clean-ups. It will take us many years to clear the decades worth of rubbish that was tipped off Headstone.

YOUR WATER

  • Understand that everything that we pour down our sinks and flush down our toilets enters our marine environment one way or another. Our soils are very porous and will carry surface water into our groundwater systems, which then leach out into the ocean.

  • Find out when your septic tank was last pumped out. This should occur every three months at a minimum to ensure that the waste water isn't joining the groundwater system. Most people wait until their septic is smelly, though this means you have waited far too long! If you haven't pumped out your septic tank in a long time, and you still can't smell it - then the contents are most likely leaching out into the groundwater.

  • Decommission your septic trench if you have one! They are not designed to be used anywhere near a waterway...which is...everywhere on Norfolk!

  • Use environmentally-friendly cleaning products. Read the labels and ask questions! Nag your suppliers and tell your friends! 

YOUR LAND

  • Choose your agricultural chemicals wisely and use them sparingly. When we have heavy rainfall the runoff will carry these contaminants into the marine environment either directly or via the groundwater. 

  • Plant natives and protect areas of native vegetation. This helps to preserve biodiversity, which in turn creates healthy ecosystems that clean the water, purify the air, maintain healthy soil and regulate the climate.

YOUR CURIOSITY

  • Learn about your marine environment and make contributions to citizen science through observations and participating in science projects! A great example of this is the cataloging of lagoon creatures as seen on Susan Prior's website and Facebook page.

  • Contact your local Council representative, your environment minister, your political leaders - most are paid to advocate for the communities they represent. They don't want an extinction event on their hands either!

  • Research the issues and inform yourself! Click on the images below to get a better understanding of each topic: