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Ngati Hau Open Letter to PM on Exploratory Drilling Concerns

Ngati Hau Trust Board Resource Management Unit
38 Puhipuhi Road
RD 2 Hikurangi
Ph 09 433 9734

Embargoed Until Tuesday 10 December 2013

An Open Letter to Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Key

10 December, 2013

Ko Kahukuri te tangata
Ko Ngati Hau te hapu
Ko Puhipuhi te whenua
Ko Waiariki te Awa
No roto te Whare Tapu O Ngapuhi

Tena koe Prime Minister

We have previously invited you to a hui at the Whakapara Marae to advise you of our concerns about gold exploratory drilling disturbing the mercury and other heavy metal contaminants that are embedded in the soil and rocks of our rohe of Puhipuhi. Your office responded that you were unable to attend the hui at Whakapara Marae on 30 August 2013, nor were any other government representatives present, which we found very disappointing. Nevertheless, there was a useful discussion of economic development alternatives to mining for the area with local government respresentatives, opposition MPs, and other interested parties.

We have serious concerns about the impact of any drilling, including exploratory drilling, will have on our waterways. The Puhipuhi hills have a myriad of underground aquifer which feed into our bores for personal household use and farming. There are also numerous streams and headwaters which all eventually lead down into the northern part of the Kaipara Harbour.

We would like to refer you to the Waiariki Stream Baseline Survey in June 2012 undertaken by Bioresearches Group Ltd.

Section 3.2 Sediment Quality (our emphasis added) states :

“ The concentration of the majority of metals analysed in the Waiariki Stream sediments were well below the ANZECC sediment quality guidelines. The exceptions were antimony and mercury. …….. The mercury concentration within the stream sediments (1.94 mg/kg dry weight) exceeded the ANZECC ASQG-High guideline concentration of 1.0 mg.kg dry weight. This result indicates that adverse effects on sediment biota due to the presence of mercury are likely to occur frequently.”

We believe it would be reasonable to assume that, with the current sediments already showing a high level of mercury, then any additional disturbance, whatever the scale, will increase the risk and magnitude of that risk. Even exploratory drilling will inevitably cause some disturbance within that area.

We agree that Northland needs significant financial investment and a strategic plan to bring jobs and income to our peoples, but we do not think gold mining is the answer. We believe instead there are other ways to economically develop Northland, and our presentation at the afore-mentioned hui provided a basis for discussion of these. We would still like to find a beneficial solution to economic development, between you and us, that we can talk through amicably.

We organised a peaceful protest which involved closing off State Highway One at Waiotu, north of Puhipuhi, on Thursday morning 28 November for two hours. We did this to draw attention to the fact that we have serious and genuine concerns about the exploratory drilling for gold that is likely to happen soon.

And we would like you, Prime Minister, and senior Minister Hon Steven Joyce to visit us - so we can talk about our concerns and put forward to you our alternative solutions for future jobs in Northland.   We are making this invitation in the form of an open letter as we are not sure that your office registered the nature of our most recent invitation to you to discuss this matter (E-Letter dated 25 November 2013).

We look forward to your positive response.
Yours sincerely

Allan Halliday

Ngati Hau Resource Management Unit


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