Category Archives: New Zealand

NZ Māori disappointed ancestral land up for tender for oil and gas drilling in Taranaki

Land covering 2200 square kilometres around Mt Taranaki has been put up for tender for oil and gas drilling. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Leigh-Marama McLachlan | Radio New Zealand | 5 May 2019 

Iwi in Taranaki are upset the government has put their ancestral land up for oil and gas drilling.

The latest block offer, announced this week, covers 2200 square kilometres of land around Mt Taranaki.

Ngāti Ruanui chief executive Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said it stirred a feeling of anxiety they know too well.

“The whole community is caught up on what happens if they come. What happens if they are irresponsible around our wāhi tapu?

“What happens if they ruin our whenua and then go off when they have found nothing and dug holes everywhere?

“A community with uncertainty can’t reach its full potential.”

This is the first block offer for this government and comes after last year’s announcement it would ban new oil and gas exploration out at sea – but not onshore.

This week’s offer excluded conservation land and cultural sites like Maunga Taranaki and Parihaka.

But Ngāruahine iwi leader Daisy Noble said it was still unacceptable.

“It should have been a stake in the ground: There is not going to be any more offers,” she said.

“They went for a bob each way and we are sick and tired of these sorts of attitudes.”

In the South Taranaki town of Patea, 53 percent of the adults earn less than $20,000 a year.

Ngāruahine recently settled its treaty claims for $67.5 million dollars but Ms Noble said oil exploration was holding them back.

“The opportunities that exist for us at home, near my hapū, is about our whenua. By the time it comes back to us, all the goodness of it is gone. It’s already taken out.

“How do we develop our whenua when you have already taken the best part away?”

Former Green Party candidate for Te Tai Hauāuru, Jack McDonald, is gutted with the offer, which covers his own tribal lands.

“It is a slap in the face that this so-called progressive government, which is meant to be taking a new approach to climate change and a new approach to Māori-Crown relations, would actually continue with this approach.”

The government aims to reduce New Zealand’s emissions to net zero by 2050.

Te Tai Hauāuru MP Adrian Rurawhe said he understood their concerns.

“I sympathise with them but until we can transition to a low emissions economy, we are basically going to have to live with the situation we are in.”

The tender closes 28 August. In a new move, companies must engage with iwi if they want to explore within 200 metres of a sacred site or waterway.

But Ms Ngarewa-Packer said under the Resource Management Act and in agreements they formed with the companies, their area of influence extended to 500m.

“But for us, some companies could sit there and say, ‘Oh we are going to default to the Crown process, versus yours.’ So to a large degree, it falls shy off the expectations we have on the company.”

She said without the power to veto, iwi ended up in costly legal fights.

Last year, Ngāti Ruanui won a lengthy battle to stop seabed mining off the coast of Patea. It is one of many legal challenges the iwi has pursued.

Ms Ngarewa-Packer said it took a toll and all of that pressure came back each time a block offer was announced.

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Wafi-Golpu land dispute: The other side of the story

Lorenitz Gaius | The National aka The Loggers Times | March 18, 2019

IT appears that some people, like one PK Anding, had lately, been vocal and supportive of the Piu Incorporated Land Group’s claim of ownership of the Wafi-Golpu project land. PK Anding had even gone as far as to mention that the Lutheran Church had written to the prime minister informing him of its support of Piu’s claim of ownership.

Further to my previous letter to the editor, I briefly mentioned that the claim by the Piu Incorporated Land Group, led by chairman Martin Tapei, was thrown out by the Supreme Court. A brief synopsis of the case is provided below for anyone out there to appreciate the origin of the Piu Incorporated Land Group claims of ownership over the 50,000 hectares of customary land.

On Feb 22, 2001, Piu ILG applied to the Department of Lands and Physical Planning for a special agricultural business lease (SABL) over the Wafi-Golpu project land comprising of 6240 hectares. This was done without the knowledge of the people of Yanta, Hengaybu and Babuaf people, including the other seven villages in the area.

On July 24, 2001, an SABL lease was granted to the Piu ILG by the minister for lands under the Land Act comprising of 50,000 hectares instead of the 6240 hectares applied for. This grant was vehemently disputed by the Yanta, Hengabu, Babuaf people as well as the other known seven villages within the area.

On May 18, 2003, following pressures and protests by these groups within the 50,000 hectares of land, the new minister for lands and physical planning intervened and revoked Piu’s SABL lease. His decision was based on the non-compliance of the requirements and provisions of the Land Act under Section 10 and 102.

On Nov 19, 2004, the Piu ILG, not satisfied with the minister’s revocation of its SABL lease, applied to the National Court for judicial review for which leave was granted on May 5, 2005. The minister’s revocation was cancelled and Piu’s ILG title was restored, albeit temporarily.

On Aug 29, 2005, Yanta, Hengabu, Babuaf and Towangola appealed to the Supreme Court for a judicial review of the National Court order of Aug 18, 2004. The appeal was upheld and the National Court judgment was declared void, and the SABL lease granted to Piu on July 24, 2001, was declared null and void.

So to whoever is still supporting the Piu ILG claims of ownership over the Wafi-Golpu project land, I hope the above information gives you a clear picture of the situation. Questions should be asked about how Piu’s claim of 6240 hectares ended up with 50,000 hectares of customary land, especially when the land is communally owned?

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Doctor protesting proposed seabed mining with ocean swim

The Stewards plan to swim 26kms in total – the mine’s distance off shore – by swimming along the coast from Pātea to Whanganui too.

Jane Matthews | Stuff NZ | March 15 2019

Despite the risk of falling victim to the sea he’s trying to save, a 61-year-old doctor is preparing to swim across a proposed-seabed mining site more than 20 kilometres off shore.

Athol Steward is campaigning against the planned seabed mine off the coast of South Taranaki by swimming 15 kilometres in the shape of an X across the area.

“The depiction of a cross is a ‘no-go zone’ or ‘no entry’ – that is the graphic or symbolic message,” Steward said.

Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) has been trying to get consent to mine 50 million tonnes of ironsand from a 66-square kilometre area off the South Taranaki Bight for years.

Its consent has been denied, accepted, and then overturned in the Court or Appeal late last year and is currently sitting before the High Court. TTR has appealed the Court of Appeal’s decision against it. 

Steward said he has been against seabed mining from the start. 

“My concern is that it will disturb the marine environment in the way that there will be long term and permanent damage to the environment.”

In September, Steward and his Christchurch-based son Lloyd, 30, came up with the campaign ‘Making Waves’.

“We were very keen on a swim at the mine site, just because of that symbolism it carries.

“I expect it’s going to be done in fairly rough conditions, I don’t think you get the bahamas out there.”

Steward plans to swim 26km all up – the mine’s distance off shore – by swimming along the coast from Pātea to Whanganui too.

The pair, who have very little ocean-swimming experience, and their crew are ready for action but have to wait for the right weather conditions – but have seen nothing but rough days so far.

“You would have ended up a victim of the sea you’re trying to protect.”

In 2017, Steward walked from Raglan to Pātea to raise money and awareness about the proposed seabed mine.

He raised $10,600 for the anti-mining parties’ court costs. He’s hoping to reach $100,000 with this Givealittle campaign to cover the costs to come.

South Taranaki Coastguard life member John Linn said the waters the Stewards were planning to swim were dangerous.

“The thing with the South Taranaki Bight is it can change quite quickly, like the conditions on the mountain,” Linn said.

“He should be looking at it as if he’s swimming Cook Strait.”

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South Taranaki iwi Ngāti Ruanui angry at spying by Thompson & Clark during Trans-Tasman Resources mining application

Anti seabed mining protesters were spied on by agents acting for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Laurie Stowell | New Zealand Herald | 27 December, 2018

Revelations that the Government used private investigators to spy on protesters opposing Trans-Tasman Resources’ (TTR) seabed mining application have provoked outrage.

And one the groups targeted, South Taranaki iwi Ngāti Ruanui, is calling for a review of New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals, the government body that manages oil, gas and minerals and issues permits for exploration.

A bombshell report last week, following an inquiry by the State Services Commission, laid bare Government monitoring of groups seen as “security threats”, often through the use of private investigation firm Thompson & Clark.

The security company was given the profiles and newsletters of groups opposing oil and gas exploration and ironsand mining, such as that sought by TTR – and Ngāti Ruanui was one of the main opponents.

“The report says we were monitored and the only other word for that is spying,” Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ruanui chief executive Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said.

The iwi is making an Official Information Act request for more information and may make a formal complaint, referring to the spying as “corrupt practices”.

Ngarewa-Packer said the iwi was “outraged but unsurprised” to discover the Government had used private investigators to spy on them.

The 150-page State Services Commission report shows “issue-motivated groups” such as the Ngāti Ruanui iwi were treated as security threats by several government departments.

It says the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), which is responsible for NZ Petroleum and Minerals, breached its code of conduct by failing to maintain an appropriate level of objectivity and impartiality.

“MBIE’s management of its regulatory responsibilities in the petroleum and minerals area … showed evidence of poor regulatory practice.”

Ngāti Ruanui chief executive Debbie Ngarewa-Packer

The inquiry uncovered system-wide failings across the public service, including a pattern of behaviour where public servants developed inappropriately close relationships with Thompson & Clark.

The monitoring started during Helen Clark’s Labour Government, with one instance in 2002, but Ngarewa-Packer said it ramped up during the last National-led Government when Simon Bridges was Energy and Resources Minister.

In 2015 he put up the “largest ever” block offer for oil and gas exploration. New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals was making “a huge effort” to bring business into the country.

Asking for opposing groups to be “monitored” called into question every decision it has made during that period, Ngarewa-Packer said.

“It makes the Crown Minerals process look corrupt.”

She said MBIE’s poor regulatory practice and bias toward iwi and stakeholders meant the ironsands exploration process “was undermined from the start”.

“What we suspected for years has sadly been confirmed – not only have we been fighting poor practising industry but we’ve also been fighting the officials charged with providing an impartial process. New Zealanders need to trust that those at the forefront of our democratic process will have a neutral view, instead of lobbying for private industry interests.”

The South Taranaki tribe was one of a number of groups opposing the ironsand mining application by TTR. During the mining proposal hearings, its people felt their concerns were ignored and officials were biased.

“We feel like we are up against not just TTR, but the officials as well.”

It seemed paranoid at the time, but Ngarewa-Packer now believes that treatment was part of a prevailing behaviour and culture.

She called for a full review of NZ Petroleum and Minerals and full disclosure. “Taxpayers and iwi need assurance the Government can be trusted.”

State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes said last week that new standards would strengthen transparency and consistency across government agencies.

“Any decision to use surveillance requires careful judgment,” Hughes said. “It must be lawful, it must be proportionate, and it must be ethical.

“It is never acceptable for an agency to undertake targeted surveillance of a person just because they are lawfully exercising their democratic rights – including their right to freedom of expression, association and right to protest.

“That is an affront to democracy.”

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Trans-Tasman Resources given leave to appeal quashing of seabed mining consent

Trans-Tasman resources want to mine ironsand off the coast of Patea.

New Zealand Herald | 24 December, 2018

Trans-Tasman Resources has been given leave to appeal the overturning of its seabed mining consent.

Leave was granted by the Court of Appeal last week, following an application by the mining company in September.

TTR is seeking to mine ironsand in the South Taranaki Bight, and it applied to the Environmental Protection Agency to take 50 million tonnes of ironsand a year from the seafloor between 22 kilometres and 36km off Patea to export to Asia.

The agency gave its consent in 2017, but opposition groups of environmentalists and iwi appealed that decision to the High Court which quashed the consents in August this year.

This week TTR said its appeal would be based on the view that the agency followed a legally correct approach in granting the consent to TTR, including conditions specifically designed to protect the marine environment and existing interests, particularly iwi.

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NZ groups opposed to seabed mining plan prepare to go back to court

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer has been leading the fight against seabed mining. SIMON O’CONNOR/STUFF

Catherine Groenestein | Stuff NZ | October 9 2018

Opponents of a plan to mine ironsand off the Taranaki coast are hoping the Court of Appeal will set a precedent to discourage other companies with similar aspirations.

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM), Greenpeace, Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui Trust, Te Kaahui o Rauru, Te Ohu Kaimoana (the Maori Fisheries Trust) and the Taranaki-Whanganui Conservation Board have all sought leave to cross-appeal on the High Court judgment that quashed Trans-Tasman Resources Ltd’s (TTRL) consent to mine the South Taranaki Bight seabed for ironsand.  

The court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to grant it a consent was unlawful. 

Two weeks ago, TTRL sought leave to take its case to the Court of Appeal.

“There were a number of points we raised that the High Court decision did not uphold, and the Trans-Tasman Resources’ appeal has given us the opportunity to challenge those decisions,” KASM chairperson Cindy Baxter said.

“This is obviously a precedent-setting case, it’s the first application for consent, and it’s important to have this precedent as strong as possible.”

She said there were other companies interested in seabed mining along the country’s West Coast.

In May, Offshore Ironsands Mining Ltd was granted permission for mining exploration inside a marine sanctuary set up to protect the endangered Māui’s dolphins off the coast of New Plymouth.

“Our cross-appeal is a logical step to take in this precedent-setting decision, as there are other seabed mining companies waiting in the wings. There are enough pressures on our oceans already without having to deal with the impacts of seabed mining,” Emily Hunter of Greenpeace said.

Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui Trust is cross appealing on points including its mana whenua interest and rights and the EPA’s failure to take the cautionary approach required by the Act.

“We want to make sure that anyone else that comes in has to reach this extremely high benchmark, they’re not able to just bowl in without doing the research they’re required to do,” Kaiarataki Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said.

The iwi was disappointed the Labour Government had not included the mining programme in its move towards stopping oil and gas prospecting.

“We’re putting a lot of effort into fighting this sunset industry with absolutely shocking environmental practices, when we should be focusing on developing a progressive economy and energy sector we can all be proud of.”

Te Kaahui o Rauru and Te Ohu Kaimoana (the Maori Fisheries Trust) have jointly lodged a cross appeal.

Kaiwhakahaere (CEO) Anne-Marie Broughton said the process had been exhausting and expensive, but Te Kaahui o Rauru likened the protection of the sea to the protection of the marae.

“The ocean is a fragile and largely unknown ecosystem and the problem is that if we damage it, we don’t know how to fix it up again. We must stand up for our environment. There are other ways to grow a healthy and sustainable economy – seabed mining is not the answer.”

The Taranaki-Whanganui Conservation Board has also resolved to defend the High Court’s decision, as well as to seek leave to cross-appeal in order to have the High Court’s decision confirmed on other grounds.

“It’s disappointing that we have to continue to fight to protect our environment,” chairperson Brendon Te Tiwha Puketapu said.

A spokesperson from the Court of Appeal said Forest and Bird and the Fisheries Interests had also filed cross appeals.

No date had yet been set for a hearing.

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NZ Seabed mining battle continues

Ngati Ruanui protested against Trans-Tasman Resources’ bid for marine consent to mine the seabed for iron sand. More than 6000 people signed the petition calling for a moratorium on seabed mining. (File photo: Monique)

TTR plans to appeal seabed mining decision

Jane Matthews | Stuff NZ | September 21 2018

Trans Tasman Rescorses have decided to appeal the High Court decision that quashed their consent to mine up to 50 million tonnes of ironsand from a 66 square kilometre area off the South Taranaki Bight for 35 years. (File photo)

A mining company who has had their controversial consent to mine the seabed off South Taranaki denied for the second time has decided to appeal the High Court decision to stop them.

Trans Tasman Resources (TTR) has been trying to gain access to mine the South Taranaki seabed for years and was granted it in August 2017 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, about three weeks ago the High Court quashed their consent on the grounds that the company’s method of environmental management was illegal.

TTR executive chairman Alan Eggers announced on Friday the company intended to lodge an appeal against the High Court’s decision, but first had to gain the permission of the court to do so. 

“Today TTR has lodged a notice to the Court of Appeal to seek leave to appeal the High Court judgment of August 28, 2018 regarding our marine consents for the South Taranaki Bright iron sands project,” Eggers said.

“It’s before the court and we’ll respect that and we’ll now have to see if the court will accept an appeal.”

Eggers would not answer any of Stuff‘s questions but said the basis of TTR’s appeal would be that they believe the EPA did follow a “legally correct approach in granting a marine discharge consent”.

The High Court decision to quash TTR’s contract, which granted consent from the EPA to mine up to 50 million tonnes of ironsand from a 66 square kilometre area off the South Taranaki Bight for 35 years, was because they’d planned to use an “adaptive management approach”.

Adaptive management is allowing an activity with uncertain effects and continually assessing it – essentially trying it out, seeing what happens and adapting the conditions accordingly, which was argued to be illegal under New Zealand law applying to the Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf.

Kiwis Against Seabed Mining chairperson Cindy Baxter wished TTR would just ‘go away’ after years of battling. TOM PULLAR-STRECKER/STUFF

Cindy Baxter is the chairperson of Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (Kasm), who were one of the parties who appealed the granting of consent, and said she was “unsurprised” with TTR’s desire to appeal the decision.

This is TTR’s second application to mine. It first applied and was denied in 2014, and Baxter was sick of them continuing to push despite denial and vocal opposition.

“I really wish that they would just go away – there’s a huge opposition,” she said.

“We’re standing on the shoulders of tens of thousands of people.”

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