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National | Mining

Taranaki iwi celebrate Court of Appeal decision to stop seabed mining

Blue Whale off South Taranaki. Photo credit: Oregon State University

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ruanui and Te Kaahui o Rauru are celebrating the decision of the Court of Appeal to stop Trans-Tasman Resources plans for seabed mining off the South Taranaki Bight.

The Court of Appeal found there were multiple overlapping errors of law in the approach adopted by the Environmental Protection Authority’s decision-making committee.

Ngāti Ruanui kaiarataki Debbie Ngarewa-Packer says the decision is "historic" and sets a precedent that will have national and international implications.

“Ngāti Ruanui are celebrating this victory and we are proud to have led the campaign against seabed mining.”

Ngarewa-Packer says it was the third time the iwi had been in the courts to stop seabed mining.

“As kaitiaki, we are clear that we will do whatever we can to protect our moana. Even with this decision, we will need to stay vigilant and we will be continuing the fight for a ban on seabed mining across the country, she says.

“Seabed mining is risky and untested. Trans-Tasman Resources are wanting to use our moana in South Taranaki as a testing ground. This could have disastrous impacts on our lives, our abundant sea life, our food supply, our commercial fishermen and the future of our tamariki.”

Ngāti Ruanui fight to protect their environment - September 2019

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Forest and Bird chief executive Kevin Hague says the Taranaki sea is home to 34 species of marine mammals, including Hector dolphins, Māui dolphins, humpback whales and New Zealand’s own population of blue whale.

“Trans-Tasman Resources was proposing to spend the next 35 years sucking up 8,000 tonnes of seafloor every hour. This would likely kill everything on the seafloor and severely disrupt the habitat of blue whales and other marine mammals…Forest and Bird's team are celebrating for them, for iwi and for New Zealand.”

Te Kaahui o Rauru tumu whakarae Mike Neho says the iwi is thrilled about the decision but will continue work to ensure the moana and coastlines are protected for generations to come.

“We’re facing off against the seabed mining industry because we believe kaitiakitanga and environmental protection is the way forward for our people, not big overseas corporates degrading our marine environment with no local benefits.”

Ngarewa-Packer says, “This permit was granted under a National government but the current government, which talks a big game on climate change and the environment, needs to actually deliver by taking heed of this decision and putting in place a ban on seabed mining permits in Aotearoa.”