A committee set up to examine freshwater quality in the Porirua catchment will soon begin consulting with the community.
Ngati Toa's representative on the Te Awarua-o-Porirua Committee, Sharli Morrison said she could only hope it will help to restore their harbour.
She said her people used to go there to get kaimoana, fish, swim and enjoy life, but they had not been able to do that since the 1960s when urban and industrial development polluted the harbour.
"I think it just breaks their heart, its just something they're never going to have again, it's not just gathering kaimoana, it's everything about the harbour, it's our taonga and it's not in a good place"
The Porirua committee is one of several catchment committees of community representatives set up by the Greater Wellington Regional Council to respond to the government's national policy statement on freshwater management.
Committee chair Stu Farrant said the impact on public health of wastewater overflows that run into the harbour through the stormwater network is another high profile issue of concern to iwi and the wider community.
"Particularly at those recreational beaches and also things like the waka ama and so forth within the harbour where people are having that secondary contact with water and seeing that wounds are not really healing particularly well."
Porirua City Council bylaw to ban contaminants from carwashes directly entering the stormwater system was greeted with a public outcry last month.
But Browyn Kropp, council representative on the committee, said people were more positive when it was explained to them that it did not mean they could not wash their cars in their driveways.
She said people could funnel water onto the grass using old towels, or make use of community car washes.
Ms Kropp said surveys show there's a need to better inform the public about the issues, and the Whaitua Committee can play a part in that.
"Sixty five percent of people in the last survey didn't realise that the drains on the street go directly into the harbour, so our stormwater goes directly into the water body without being treated and when only sixty five percent of people know this it shows us that we desperately need more education."
Ms Morrison said she would like everybody to think about what they do before they put anything down a sink or a drain.
"People need to all become a little bit more aware of what our harbour is and what it means. Some people say its the jewel in our crown, its our lifeforce. Be lovely to see people using our harbour more, really enjoying the harbour, but that's a long time away."
Mr Farrant said the harbour was not in good shape and the community would have to weigh up the costs and benefits of simple behavioural changes such as carwashing with care, and the expense of steps such as retrofitting stormwater treatment and improving the wastewater system.
He said the committee would set water management targets that will go into the regional plan.