The trust was established in 2002 in response to increasing amounts of rubbish entering the sea via roadways and stormwater channels, often clogging up streams and estuaries along the way. This rubbish creates a significant hazard for birds and marine and freshwater fish species, and causes direct damage to the environment through leaching and degradation of habitats.
Initially it was sponsored by Watercare, Ports of Auckland and local Auckland councils, and was called the Waitemata Harbour Clean-Up Trust. The Ports of Auckland provided the Phil Warren boat which was named in recognition of the environmental initiatives led by the late chairperson of the Auckland Regional Council.
Today the trust is sponsored by Watercare – Auckland’s water and wastewater service provider – which provides both sponsorship and administrative assistance. In July 2011, it changed its name to the Watercare Harbour Clean-Up Trust.
Its trustees are: