The legacy of a broken promise

Inside a grassroots campaign to protect conservation land from mining - and how you can help.

Áine Kelly-Costello

Watchdog protest calling on the Government to honour the promise to ban mining on conservation land, 2017. Credit Geoff Reid

The problem

Áine: Organising with Coromandel Watchdog, you have documented the impacts of mining on Hauraki DOC lands and beyond for decades. Your latest petition asks the Government to turn down new mining permits on stewardship land until all conservation land is fully protected. Why is this moratorium urgent? And how did we get here?

Left, Archeys frog, the worlds most threatened frog. Credit Ian Preece. Right, photo of river and mountains at Wharekirauponga, conservation land under a mining permit in southern Coromandel. Credit Chris Pryor.

Valuing land

Áine: One of the key arguments the mining industry is making — and gaining traction with — is that they should be allowed to mine on stewardship land. Walk me through that. How do we define stewardship land? And what should we be talking about when we have conversations on valuing land?

‘but actually, if you look at this place, it’s full of these very special rocks and resources, and these things have a right to exist in their own terms’.

So the mauri of gold … This was very deep kōrero for us, we weren’t familiar with this. She really tried to get across to us, and to judges in the environment court, that the lifeforce of gold existed in our whenua for reasons we may not understand, and it needs to be left there. That’s why we have some amazing landforms and beneath them some amazing minerals in this area. They’re there and they’re meant to be there.

Gold Mining’s dirty trail

Áine: In ecological terms, both gold and coal mining cause extensive and long-term impacts around the country. What kind of damage does gold mining cause in the Hauraki/Coromandel and who is responsible for cleaning up?

Land and Loss

Áine: Without that happening, is there a sense of losing the essence of what it means to live in the Hauraki region for you?

Taking back power

Áine: Absolutely. So the plan for Coromandel Watchdog now is to get this temporary ban on mining stewardship land over the line. Presumably, people wanting to support should firstly sign the petition. What else can they do?

How you can help

· Sign today: Moratorium on Mining Permits for Conservation Land

We work together to create a society where people and planet are more important than profit and Te Tiriti o Waitangi is honoured.

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