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Navigating the Oil and Mining Debate in New Zealand

The Ground Between: Navigating the Oil and Mining Debate in New Zealand

There is a deep dysfunction in the way we talk about oil and mining.

Oil and mining developments in New Zealand are always contentious. From the 40,000 people who marched through Auckland in 2010 to protest mining in conversation areas, to protests against deep sea oil drilling, how we make decisions about these kinds of resources are never easy ones.

Regardless of the project in question, debates over oil and mining developments are fierce and polarised. Often presented as a simple trade-off between conservation or quick profit, the debate leaves little space for discussion.

In this new BWB Text, author Sefton Darby reflects frankly on the state of resource extraction in New Zealand, placing it within a global context. Darby is a Sydney-based consultant, with the rare experience of having worked for governments, private mining companies and NGOs.

Here he provides an insider perspective across the ideological divide and reflects frankly on the state of resource extraction in New Zealand. The Ground Between doesn’t seek to give a yes or no answer to whether New Zealand should extract, but rather, it explores the questions that should inform that decision. If you think you’ve made up your mind on oil or mining – whether for or against – this is essential reading.

Polarisation is increasingly a feature of New Zealand public debate: people pick their side, the battle lines are drawn, and productive conversation ends. The Ground Between is ultimately about how we – as a country – make decisions around contentious issues. Darby makes a compelling case that we need to do better.

About the Author

Sefton Darby is a Sydney-based consultant working on strategy development, community engagement, and overseas aid and development projects. His clients include governments, NGOs, corporations and multilateral organisations in New Zealand, Australia and globally.

Darby grew up on the Otago Peninsula and graduated with a BA (Hons) from the University of Otago, followed by an M.Litt. from the University of St Andrews in Scotland. He has worked on extractives governance issues since 2003 in Europe, the United States, New Zealand, Australia, West Africa and Central Asia for the British and New Zealand governments, the World Bank, NGOs and private mining companies.

His interests are in multi-stakeholder governance; the political and security impacts of climate change; and the future of the oil and mining sectors.

For more information, go to the BWB website.


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