Politics | Debbie Ngarewa-Packer

Ngāti Ruanui and Taranaki iwi back anti-seabed mining bill, despite Labour snub

Since 2011, Ngāti Ruanui and Taranaki iwi have spearheaded the fight against seabed mining and today they took another leap towards achieving their goal.

Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer's Prohibition on Seabed Mining Legislation Amendment Bill had its first reading in Parliament today.

“We will never take a backward step despite the outcome," Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ruanui chairman Haimona Maruera says. "What will eventuate is our resilience, and our passion, and sincerity to this cause. It’s not only for Ngāti Ruanui but for all."

Ngarewa-Packer says, “For our whānau the frustration is at a real grassroots level there have been tens of thousands of hours put into protecting ourselves and fighting this kaupapa.”

Parker demurs

The bill aims to create a nationwide ban on seabed mining consents within Aotearoa's exclusive economic zone and coastal waters governed under the Resource Management Act.

“We won in every court of this nation, and we brought this politically to the forefront not only here in Aotearoa but in the world," Ngarewa-Packer says. "And I am really proud that we will continue to fight this, whether it be on this front or another front. We won’t give up - it's too important."

Debbie continues to fight.

Environmental Minister David Parker says he is mindful of the potential role minerals recovered by seabed mining could play in New Zealand's transition to a de-carbonised economy.

“As minister for the environment I'm always concerned to protect the environment. There are no current [reasons] that require us to immediately pass legislation that would close down the Maui gas platform and put at risk New Zealand's electricity supplies,” Parker says.

Ngarewa-Packer says valuable minerals versus the health and well-being of oceans' ecosystems has absolutely no equivalence.

'Another plan up our sleeve'

"Our ability to breathe comes from the ocean, so I just think that Labour has played Russian roulette with us in the environment and climate change space. They have been the biggest disappointment.

“This bill isn't just for us but for all of Aotearoa and that is why we’re concerned about their (government) stance. However, we do have another plan up our sleeve that is specifically Māori, so that we carry this issue with the grace fitting for a cause that has much significance to us,” Maruera says.

Despite this bill last year, the government made a decision to back a conditional global moratorium on deep-sea mining. It’s a decision that has many local environmental advocates stumped.