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Māori voice shines in mining debate

MEDIA STATEMENT

18June 2014

Māori voice shines in mining debate

Māori Party candidate for Te Tai Hauāuru, Chris McKenzie is over the moon that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has declined the Black Sands Mining application by Trans-Tasman Resources. “Whilst this opportunity may have brought employment in to our rohe, overseas business operations must be able to provide good evidence that their methods are safe and will not destroy the environment for the locals to clean up after they have left,” said McKenzie.

McKenzie also praised the efforts of local iwi and in particular Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Apa and Ngāti Ruanui who opposed the application. “The decision shows that the authority has listened to the concerns of the majority including Māori and other environmental groups and that iwi are exercising our role as tangata tiaki for our resources. We know many groups including Ngāti Apa and Ngāti Ruanui have opposed the Trans-Tasman Resources application because of a poor process used for the cultural impact assessment report for example and inadequate consultation. Maori were also opposed because of the inability of the applicant to prove there would be no environmental damage.

"This is not the end. Other companies will also be interested in mining and will need to ensure they communicate effectively with local communities.”

McKenzie believes this is an example of the importance of the EPA and acknowledges the role the Maori Party had in supporting its inception. The Māori Party cast the deciding vote to establish the Environmental Protection Agency during the passage of legislation that established this agency, despite opposition from ACT, Labour and the Greens.

The Maori Party had negotiated hard for a Treaty clause in the EPA legislation as well as setting the standard that members of the Environment Protection Board must have knowledge and skills relating to the Treaty and to tikanga Maori. The Maori Party had also argued for the establishment of a Maori advisory committee as part of the Authority, to provide assistance and advice to the Board on matters that come up from a Maori perspective.

“These steps that we laid down in May 2011 have borne fruit in the decision today” said McKenzie.

ENDS


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