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Forest & Bird Joins Whangaroa Hapū In Condemning Mining Threat

Concerned Whangaroa hapū members and Forest & Bird representatives have gathered at two locations in Northland to speak out against the threat of mining in the area.

People protested on public conservation land, which is among the last 1% of unlogged ancient kauri forest. The image shown is at Manginangina Scenic Reserve in Puketī Forest today.

This area is included in a prospecting permit for lithium and rare earth elements that the Government granted late last year to Mineralogy International Limited, owned by controversial Australian mining billionaire Clive Palmer.

The Whakarara Conservation Area behind beautiful Te Ngaere Bay and above the water source of local hapū is included within a different prospecting licence held by the same company.

Bianca Ranson, spokesperson for Ngāti Kahu ki Whangaroa at the event, says: “Mining affects the whenua, taonga and wai. Allowing mining on incredibly important conservation land like on Whakarara maunga could destroy native forests and lead to pollution of waterways out to Whangaroa Harbour and the sea.

“We dodged a bullet being missed by the worst of Cyclone Gabrielle. But in a world where extreme weather events are becoming more common and more severe, we would not want toxic mining waste in an area close to the coast that's famous for flooding.

"In Whangaroa it has been an intergenerational fight to keep mining companies away. Our people have told the Government again and again that we don't want mining here, but they continue to allow more prospecting and exploration. Minister of Conservation Willow-Jean Prime has the opportunity to step in, support us as hapū of Te Tai Tokerau, and protect our whenua from the mining interests of an Australian billionaire.

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“We ask her to move swiftly, particularly now that she is in Cabinet, to end new mining on current conservation land. Our future is the return of our whenua, not more desecration and extraction that will have impacts on generations to come.

“The prospecting permits cover a combination of private land, Māori land, and public conservation land that is under Treaty claim. The Government is making another mess before cleaning up the first one."

Robyn Tauroa of the Whangaroa Papa Hapū says, “In this area we have underground streams all through our mountains and whenua that we don’t want polluted by mining companies. We have been standing firm to protect the wai of Whangaroa from mining pollution for at least 30 years, and that won’t be stopping any time soon.”

Forest & Bird has been calling on the Government to fulfil its 2017 promise of no new mines on conservation land, helping the public write to MPs in support of a Bill to end new mines on conservation land and holding protest banner events around Aotearoa.

Over 150,000 hectares of exploration and prospecting permits have been signed off covering conservation land and at least 78 mining access arrangements on conservation land have been granted since 2017 – contrary to Jacinda Ardern’s speech from the throne declaring it a priority for this Labour Government to stop new mines on conservation land.

Forest & Bird Northland Conservation Manager Dean Baigent-Mercer says, “We need the Government to hurry up and fulfil their promise to end new mines on conservation land before the election. Local communities should not have to continually fight decade after decade to prevent mining company attempts to destroy ancient forests, wetlands and rivers that we thought were already protected.”

The banner being held in today’s photos and footage is a replica of the banner that was at the front of the massive 2010 March Against Mining protest that over 40,000 people took part in down Queen Street.

Note: Forest & Bird has held multiple banner protest events against mining on conservation land over the past six months, including in the Coromandel, on the West Coast, and near Nelson. Photos are drone footage are available here.

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