Pope Francis wades in on sea bed mining decision


Mike Watson | Stuff NZ | August 11 2017

Face to face consultation with iwi was lacking in the sea bed mining application, Pope Francis said

The decision to mine iron sand off the Taranaki coast has reached all the way to the landlocked Vatican City.

Pope Francis’ representatives down under, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand , said the decision was concerning.

The Catholic organisation submitted on the application in October quoting Pope Francis’ message that “intervention in nature can have consequences which are not immediately evident”.

Vacuuming 50 million tonnes of sea bed had short term gains but led to long term ruin, it said.

Caritas director Julianne Hickey said the organisation had highlighted the impacts of offshore seabed mining in the Pacific.

“Caritas believes that the EPA’s consent to extract iron ore sands did not give appropriate and reasonable consideration of the impact on people, communities, amenity values, social, economic, aesthetic and cultural conditions essential to an integral ecology,” she said.

“In other words, the EPA’s decision making committee’s approach failed to consider that when it comes to care for our common home, everything is interconnected.”

Hickey said the EPA’s failure to meet face to face with iwi did not make for what Pope Francis would consider an “authentic encounter.” 

“Consultation with local iwi and communities is essential and should be done before any consent is granted.”

Hickey addressed the United Nations in July on protecting and sustaining the oceans.

“Going ahead with the mining could undermine the world’s goals for the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda that New Zealand has signed up to,” she said.

“It is difficult to see where this decision gives effect to the values and interests of South Taranaki iwi.”

Hickey said the decision was centred on uncertainty and hinged on a single casting vote due to interpretative disputes and conflicting arguments.

There are long established interests within the coastal marine area and current claims by iwi under the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act and New Zealand’s international commitments are yet to be taken into account she said.

Caritas hoped the well-being of the environment now and for future generations was fully considered, she said.


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Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, New Zealand

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