Tag Archives: New Zealand

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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Legal battle looms over seabed mining

Simon Hartley | Otago Daily Times | 16 August 2017

The gloves are coming off as mining interest groups and environmentalists prepare for a legal battle over consenting issues.

Similar legal challenges to Bathurst Resources’ coal mining consents on the West Coast dragged on for two years and the global coal price collapsed, forcing Bathurst to mothball much of its proposed operations.

Mining industry lobby group Straterra has applauded the granting of marine consents for Trans Tasman Resources to move towards ironsand extraction from Taranaki’s seabed.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) granted the consents last week, but environmental groups vowed to lodge appeals within the 15-day appeal period.

Submitting group Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) had said it would appeal and yesterday said its lawyers were working on an appeal, spokeswoman Cindy Baxter said.

”Apart from the fact that we consider this decision very flawed, and that such a huge operation with potentially devastating consequences only got the go-ahead because the chair of the committee had two votes, we have to look at the precedent it sets,” she said in a statement.

Straterra chief executive Chris Baker said the EPA’s decision making committees’s decision sent a strong signal to extractive sector investors ”that New Zealand is open for business”.

”The [decision] committee had to satisfy itself, on best available information, that effects can be well managed,” Mr Baker said.

Ms Baxter said after Trans Tasman’s first application was refused in 2014, many of the companies with permits on North Island coasts subsequently dropped them.

She said Trans Tasman’s application failed on several fronts, saying there were no surveys or studies on any marine mammals, penguins, fairy prion petrels or bottom dwelling organisms, nor measurement of existing ambient noise; which was an issue for marine mammals.

”They made no effort to undertake any baseline monitoring of the seabed, despite the lack of it being one of the grounds the EPA refused their first application,” Ms Baxter said.

Mr Baker noted more than 100 conditions were imposed on Trans Tasman, including a two-year monitoring plan before mining could take place.

Trans Tasman’s two applications and ongoing research and development costs are now understood to have cost it a total about $86million.

Trans Tasman wants to suction dredge about 50million tonnes of sands from the seabed annually, to extract 5million tonnes of ironsands, for the next 35 years.

More than 13,000 people opposed the application. Much of the opposition centres on the effects from the ”plume” of sands when being returned to the seabed.

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Catholic bishops praise ‘systematic and coordinated opposition to seabed mining’

Catholic Bishops: “Members of Parliament and local Governors and other civic authorities have a particular duty to promote long term economic and social development and to be vigilant in guarding against any attempts by international businesses to exploit our common resource”

Catholic Bishops Urge Care for Sea & People of West Papua

Federation of Catholic Bishops | Scoop NZ | 14 August 2017

The Executive Committee of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania (Australia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, New Zealand, CEPAC – the rest of the Pacific) is currently meeting in Auckland, New Zealand. We come from a multitude of island nation States spread throughout the Pacific Ocean.

We are delighted to be here in Aotearoa New Zealand and have enjoyed greatly the beauty of its nature and the hospitality of the people. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to De La Salle College in South Auckland, the highlight of which was Mass for the entire school community. The boys’ enthusiastic participation in the liturgy uplifted our hearts. A further highlight was our presence at the City Mission on Friday evening where we served meals to the homeless, the mentally unwell and those suffering economic deprivation. This was a humbling experience during which we felt deeply Christ’s call to sit and walk alongside those who struggle or find themselves on the margins of society.

As Bishops of the Pacific, the place of the sea in the lives of the peoples we serve was a central focus of our meeting. Our common ocean is teeming with life and goodness. For many of our peoples the sea is their treasured source of nutrition, sustenance and livelihood. In solidarity with them, Psalm 107 resonates in our hearts: “those that do business in the great waters, they behold the world of the Lord and his wonders in the deep.”

We are acutely aware of the impact of climate change on island nations and some of our number have been visiting communities and recording the destruction of shorelines affecting them. On a happier note, we are heartened to learn of the systematic and coordinated opposition to seabed mining which turns the ocean floor into a stage of exploitative destruction of ocean habitats.

Our interest in the “Blue Economy” is to uphold a model of development that respects the fundamental importance of sustainability that looks way beyond any perceived short term economic windfall. Members of Parliament and local Governors and other civic authorities have a particular duty to promote long term economic and social development and to be vigilant in guarding against any attempts by international businesses to exploit our common resource. We applaud government, community and private initiatives to develop water ecotourism and sustainable sea fishing. We are not “anti-development”. We look to the common good and thus advocate for an integrated approach to development where local customary practices are respected and communities are assisted to grow employment opportunities.

A further focus has been the livelihood and cultural integrity of the people of West Papua. We do not promote a view in regard to independence. Indeed we believe that where this question becomes a single focus, care to uphold and strengthen local institutions of democracy may be overlooked. We echo the call for quality education in Papua, for fair and transparent access to jobs, training programmes and employment, for respect of land titles, and for clear boundaries between the role of defence and police forces and the role of commerce. The large majority of indigenous people of Papua seek peace and the various dialogue groups, advocating and witnessing to peaceful co-existence, are a source of hope for all.

Let us conclude with reference to Pope Francis’s inspiring encyclical Laudato Si which he opens with the beautiful canticle of Saint Francis of Assisi who also reminds our generation that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us.

We look forward to our Plenary Assembly in Port Moresby in April next year to which is invited all the bishops of Oceania. Our theme will be – ‘Care of our Common Home of Oceania: A sea of possibilities’.

  • Archbishop Sir John Cardinal Ribat MSC (President), Archbishop of Port Moresby, PNG.
  • Bishop Robert McGuckin (Deputy President) Bishop of Toowoomba, Australia.
  • Archbishop Michel Calvet SM, Archbishop of Noumea, New Caledonia.
  • Bishop Colin Campbell, Bishop of Dunedin, New Zealand.
  • Bishop Charles Drennan, Bishop of Palmerston North, New Zealand.
  • Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, Australia.

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