Category Archives: New Zealand

Whanganui doctor’s beach trek against seabed mining on final stretch

Doctor Athol Steward is walking from Raglan to Whanganui to protest against seabed mining. Photo/ Supplied

Emma Russell | Wanganui Chronicle | 11 November, 2017

Nearly two weeks ago Athol Steward started his beach trek from Raglan to Whanganui, averaging 30km a day.The Whanganui doctor walking 400km in a bid to stop seabed mining is in his final stretch and is expected to arrive on Castlecliff Beach on Sunday afternoon.

The environmental advocate was outraged when Trans-Tasman Resources’ application to extract 50 million tonnes of the South Taranaki Bight seabed every year for 35 years was approved in August.

His self-funded mission aimed to support anti-mining group Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) which filed an appeal against the Environmental Protection Authority decision in the High Court on August 31.

Dr Steward said he decided that the time for talking was over and a sausage sizzle and cake sale wasn’t going to do it anymore.

“It needed to be something that would catch some interest and hopefully put the word out there that experimental seabed mining is not ok.”

And he was right, already he has raised $3695 through his Givealittle page and all proceeds will go towards KASM’s appeal.

Dr Steward said he had lots of pleasure fishing and diving out there and it was one of the best fisheries around New Zealand.

“The TTA have called it a desert but we’ve dinned out on that one. The reef is full of life, plenty of crayfish but also rare soft sponges and masses of marine life.”

Walking the first 200km with his eldest son, Lloyd, Dr Steward is now tackling the final 100km with his youngest son, Jonathan.

On Friday they will walk Patea to Waipipi then on Saturday they will continue to Waiinu Beach.

Gathering as many walkers as they can from Ototoko Beach, Dr Steward plans to end the walk at Castlecliff Beach around 3pm on Sunday.

To donate to Athol Steward’s Givealittle fund visit: ourocean


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Locals to join in man’s 400km walk against seabed mining

Athol Steward and other KASM members protest seabed mining.

Tara Shaskey | Taranaki Daily News | November 3, 2017

A hīkoi along the New Plymouth coastline to raise awareness of seabed mining will go ahead whatever the weather on Saturday.

The walk will begin in Bell Block and finish at the Wind Wand, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) member Chris Wilkes said.

The event aimed to continue the organisation’s momentum with raising public awareness of KASM’s high court appeal on the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) decision to allow Trans Tasman Resources to mine iron sand off the Taranaki coast.

In total, seven groups are appealing the decision which included South Taranaki iwi Ngāti Ruanui, Fisheries Inshore New Zealand Ltd Conservation, Forest and Bird, iwi Ngāa Rauru, Greenpeace and Te Ōhu Kaimoana, the Māori Fisheries Trust.

Wilkes said the walk was also in support of fellow KASM member Athol Steward’s personal hīkoi, Walk the Walk Together for our Ocean.

The Whanganui doctor embarked on a 400-kilometre coastal walk on October 28 to raise funds and awareness for KASM’s appeal.

“We want to show a bit of solidarity there and allow him as much of a platform to say what he wants to say,” Wilkes said,

“He’s obviously passionate about ocean protection and we want to tautoko his efforts.”

Steward has averaged 30km a day and his walk, which began in Raglan, is scheduled to finish on November 12 in Whanganui.

“He’s been walking the beaches and farmland, it’s pretty amazing really,” Wilkes said.

“He’s very passionate and just sick of not being able to do anything. I think we all feel a bit helpless.”

A free bus will leave Puke Ariki’s bus stop in New Plymouth at 12.30pm and head to Bell Block beach ready for a 1pm start.

Wilkes expected anywhere between 50 and 100 people would take part in the event.

“Rain or shine it’s going to go ahead.”

A Givealittle page in support of Steward has raised more than $3000.

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More groups join appeal against seabed mining in NZ

On August 20 more than 100 people went to Patea’s Mana Beach to protest against seabed mining.

Laurel Stowell | Wanganui Chronicle | September 4, 2017

After much discussion the Taranaki/Whanganui Conservation Board has taken the unusual step of appealing against consent for seabed mining offshore from Patea, chairman Brendon Te Tiwha Puketapu says.

This despite the Conservation Department it works with having made no submission on Trans-Tasman Resources’ application to mine iron-sand across 66 square kilometres in the South Taranaki Bight.

Having made no submission on the application, the department cannot appeal it. But the board did make a submission, opposing the consent, and can appeal.

It has been advised that there are points of law on which the consent can be appealed, and that they fall within the board’s conservation management functions.

The board will ask whether the consenting body, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), had the best available information to work from, whether it used the precautionary principle and whether the consent given falls within the scope of an adaptive management approach.

“It has also sought to clarify how the EPA should have taken into account the Resource Management Act and in particular the strong directives of the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement,” Mr Puketapu said.

Te Ohu Kaimoana (the Maori Fisheries Trust) has also appealed the consent. Chief executive Dion Tuuta said that it did so in support iwi of the area, and that seabed mining was an unproven industry and a risk to fisheries.

Taranaki iwi Ngāruahine borders Patea and Hawera iwi Ngāti Ruanui but is not appealing the consent. Its pou whakarae Will Edwards said it was completely opposed to the mining venture and would support other iwi in their fight against it.

“We will utilise different strategies at different points at different times. Not all of these are played out on Facebook, in court, or in front of cameras.”

Another five groups have filed appeals against the mining consent. They are Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ruanui, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining with Greenpeace in support, a fisheries group, Te Kāhui o Rauru and Forest & Bird.

The appeal period closed on Thursday and the appeals will be heard in the High Court.

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Five parties appeal NZ seabed mining decision

Trans-Tasman Resources proposes to use an undersea crawler to suck up iron-sand from the seabed. Graphic/ supplied

 Laurel Stowell | Wanganui Chronicle | September 1, 2017

A “suck it and see” approach to the uncertainties of seabed mining is not good enough and is illegal – and that’s the essence of an appeal to the High Court.

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) is appealing the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) decision to allow Trans Tasman Resources to mine ironsand from the South Taranaki seabed.

KASM’s appeal to the High Court is on 15 points of law, new chairwoman Cindy Baxter said. One of them is that the EPA’s many conditions amount to an adaptive management approach.

Adaptive management is about changing the way an activity is managed in response to as-yet-unknown effects. KASM’s lawyers say such an approach is prohibited under government’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) legislation.

Another point KASM wishes to appeal on is the EPA’s failure to impose a bond on the mining company.

And it says the decision makers failed to apply caution and environmental protection or to take cumulative effects into account.

KASM is asking the court to overturn the decision.

Yesterday, the final day for appeals, Forest & Bird and Ngā Rauru joined KASM, Ngāti Ruanui and a collective of fisheries interests in making appeals. Ngāti Ruanui has employed distinguished lawyer Francis Cooke QC.

For South Taranaki iwi Ngā Rauru the decision to appeal was easy on cultural, environmental and ethical grounds, chairman Marty Davis said. But the legal challenge will be costly for the small tribe.

Forest & Bird chief executive Kevin Hague said the EPA has decided to allow mining based on uncertain and inadequate information – especially about its effect on the 30 marine mammal species in the bight. The society was also concerned mining would affect the rich marine life in the Patea Shoals.

The decision making process was unfairly weighted toward the mining company, Ngā Rauru kaiwhakahaere Anne-Marie Broughton said.

“There is no legal assistance fund available to community, hapū and iwi groups to appeal the decision, unlike under the Resource Management Act.”

That put a cost on iwi and others, and was a deliberate strategy to disempower communities and support extractive industries, she said. Ngā Rauru would be lobbying the Attorney-General and Minister for the Environment to change those conditions.

The iwi is urging others to get involved.

Seabed mining will spread quickly across the country unless it is stopped, Mr Davis said.

Other groups may appeal the EPA decision. Te Ohu Kaimoana (The Maori Fisheries Trust), the Taranaki/Whanganui Conservation Board and Whanganui and Ngāruahine iwi all have interests in it.

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KASM, Forest & Bird appeal NZ seabed mining decision

Trans Tasman Resources Limited has been given the green light to to extract 50 million tonnes of material from the seabed off South Taranaki every year for 35 years. Photo / File

NZ Herald | 31 August, 2017

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) has today lodged an appeal against the Environmental Protection Authority’s controversial decision granting consent to ironsands miner Trans Tasman Resources.

The company was this month given the green light to extract 50 million tonnes of material from the seabed off South Taranaki and export five million tonnes of ironsand every year for 35 years.

KASM today announced it would be appealing the decision under 15 points of law, under the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012, including “failing to take into account natural justice”, to apply environmental bottom lines, to take a precautionary approach, and to require “adequate information” from TTR.

KASM has called for the High Court to set the decision aside.

“We have gone through the nearly 400-page decision and we think the EPA has erred on a number of points of law, right across its decision,” KASM chairperson Cindy Baxter said.

“KASM is appealing because the EPA made a bad decision, a decision that we believe is wrong in law as well as in principle – and we have seen an overwhelming response against it.”

Forest & Bird today also announced it has lodged an appeal in the High Court.

“The EEZ Act recognises that seabed mining could have significant impacts on the marine environment, and requires protection from such impacts,” the group’s chief executive, Kevin Hague, said.

“We think the EPA’s decision to grant consent fails to protect the environment, and doesn’t meet the requirements of the EEZ Act.”

Ngati Ruanui is also among several groups that have opposed the EPA’s decision.

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NZ Greens propose marine sanctuary to stop seabed mining off South Taranaki 

A large crowd including many students welcomed the Green Party announcement for plans of a new marine sanctuary in South Taranaki. GRANT MATTHEW/STUFF

Catherine Groenestein | Stuff NZ | 29 August, 2017

The Green Party wants to stop seabed mining by creating an enormous new marine mammal sanctuary off the Taranaki coast.

Green Party leader James Shaw announced the plan at a Hawera beach when he, MP Gareth Hughes and Te Tai Hauauru candidate Jack McDonald joined a seabed mining protest by more than 200 people on Tuesday.

The South Taranaki Whale Sanctuary would prohibit new prospecting, exploration and mining for minerals, but existing petroleum wells would be allowed to continue to operate until their permits expired.

The controversial Environmental Protection Agency decision allowing Trans Tasman Resources (TTR) to dredge 50 million tonnes of sand a year from the seabed off Patea would be stopped.

Fishing would be allowed to continue in the area, whereas the seabed mining would disrupt fishing activities and was opposed by the commercial operators, Shaw said.

“Seabed mining vacuums up the seabed, filters out minerals and dumps the mud back into the ocean. For the whales it’s like someone dumping the contents of a vacuum cleaner on their plates.”

The South Taranaki Bight is home to 38 different mammals, including blue whales and the highly endangered Maui’s dolphins.

“At around 30,000 square km, or fifty times the size of Lake Taupo,  this will be New Zealand’s largest marine mammal sanctuary.”

The sanctuary would stretch from Foxton north to Hawera, and west to Kahurangi Point near the top of the South Island, covering the area where blue whales were most commonly seen.

The protest, organised by the community of  Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngāti Ruanui, began with songs from the youngsters, and ended with a heartfelt haka, then the participants formed a human chain around the grassy reserve above the beach.

Principal Mama Kumeroa said she felt overwhelmed by the number of people, who had answered her call for support.

“There are representatives here from every school, every kindergarten and educational institution in Hawera. These little ones are going to be the caretakers of the future, these young people will grow up and see this seabed mining happening, and it’s going to take three or four generations ahead of us to clean it up. If companies want to do this mining they should do it in their own backyard. This is our backyard.”

Ngati Ruanui kaiarataki Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said the iwi was pleased with the Green Party initiative.

 “We are pleased to see the Greens thinking outside the square. It gives us hope that there’s some better options out there. Hopefully the other parties will be just as innovative.”

Ngati Ruanui is preparing to lodge its appeal against the application later this week.

Maori Party candidate for Te Tai Hauauru Howie Tamati said he supported the idea of a marine sanctuary.

“I’m still upset at the decision of the EPA to let the iron-sand mining go ahead considering all of the evidence that was there to say it would have a huge impact on the sea life in the area.”

Labour candidate for Whanganui Steph Lewis said not enough information had been provided on the effects of  the TTR operation, which could run over 35 years.

“I’m not convinced the jobs it is allegedly going to create will go to people in Patea, there’s not enough evidence to support it and real big concerns about the environmental impact.”

In its application, TTR has said it would be “a sustainable and world leading development” that would have little environmental effect.

But the venture is opposed by Kiwis Against Seabed Mining, Patea-based iwi Ngati Ruanui, environmental groups Greenpeace and Forest & Bird, and by Talley’s Fisheries which also submitted against the mining when a previous application by TTR was declined by the EPA in 2014.

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Five voice fears on seabed mining to conservation board in NZ

Tanea Tangaroa and Rae Ranginui speak at the Taranaki/Whanganui Conservation Board public forum. Photo/ Laurel Stowell

“In reality the biggest pests are the humans. We are the only ones that will destroy our own habitat.”

Laurel Stowell | Wanganui Chronicle | 27 August, 2017

It was strongly urged to appeal against seabed mining happening in South Taranaki waters.A passionate young person and four equally heartfelt others poured out complaints to the Taranaki/Whanganui Conservation Board on Thursday.

The group of five spoke at the public forum part of the board’s meeting in Whanganui. They wanted the board to appeal against the Environmental Protection Authority’s decision to allow the mining.

Board members received independent legal advice on a possible appeal during the day, and also met with representatives of the Office of Treaty Settlements.

The five had a list of complaints against the Conservation Department (DOC). Tanea Tangaroa was devastated DOC hadn’t objected to the mining application.

And she said a 1080 aerial poison drop in the Ruapehu District this week had traumatised people and led to an alternative water source being offered to Ohura residents.

She asked whether a law change allowing mining on conservation land could affect land here, and said the legal assistance available for people objecting to developments has been reduced.

“For us, it’s hard enough as it is.”

When DOC didn’t make a submission on the seabed mining application, Rae Ranginui lost respect for its integrity

“I believe they are here to serve corporates,” she said.

Te Huatahi Hawira “spilled out her heart” in a long speech that included the mining issue, 1080 and another possum poison, myrtle rust, kauri dieback and Whanganui’s port development.

She said her ancestors’ ashes were in the port area and she couldn’t even go there.

“In reality the biggest pests are the humans. We are the only ones that will destroy our own habitat.”

Board chairman Te Tiwha Puketapu noted their complaints. The board’s role was to promote conservation and give “thoughtful advocacy”, he said.

It hadn’t decided whether to oppose the seabed mining consent.

DOC operations director for this region, David Speirs, said the department did not have a fixed position on seabed mining and looked at each case on its merits.

In the case of Trans-Tasman Resources, which wants to mine in South Taranaki waters, it decided to oppose the company’s first application. Its second application had some changes.

“The department decided that, to the extent it had legal mandate, it couldn’t make any gains by making a submission. It left the matter to the EPA to consider,” Mr Speirs said.

He had never met with anyone from the company.

DOC had personally apologised to the board, Nga Rauru and Ngati Ruanui for not letting them know it would not make a submission. It had talked with each about how to do things better.

“We don’t like not doing our job,” Mr Speirs said.

On 1080, a DOC spokesman said that toxin was the most researched in New Zealand for more than 40 years. It had saved kakapo and other birds from extinction.

“If we had something better, we would use it. But we do not.”

Mr Puketapu said it was clear that views on 1080 were polarised.

“We are not trying to convince each other that the other one is right. We just have to make sure we are being heard.”

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