Politics | Mining

Headache for conservation minister

Labour has voted against a Green Party bill prohibiting the mining of conservation lands. This follows its continuing refusal to commit to a ban on seabed mining as well.

Those issues may prove to be a major headache for Conservation Minister, Willow-Jean Prime.

The newbie minister was today celebrating her move up Labour’s party list for the next election.

Willow Jean-Prime says, “I acknowledge the select committee for my position in the rankings, and our whole team. I am very pleased with my position.”

But celebrations were shortlived as she faced a barrage of questions on why Labour wouldn’t support the Green Party bill banning mining on conservation lands.

Mining is banned in national parks and mining consents also have strong environmental safeguards

“I work within this portfolio for one and all. I have been working alongside Ngāi Tahu in these past months to solidify their rights as guardians of pounamu in the south.”

But Green MP Eugenie Sage says Labour has abandoned conservation efforts.

“The Greens are really disappointed that we’re not seeing conservation land protected from mining. Only 50% of the conservation estate is protected from mining.”

Sage also says it’s a slap in the face for locals in Coromandel and their long struggle to protect forests and coastlines from gold mining.

“In the Coromandel, we’ve seen the northern part of the peninsula, with its beautiful forest protected under schedule 4 of the Crowns Minerals Act. That doesn’t cover the area south of the Kopu State Highway 25A road.”

And it seems Sage isn’t the only one who thinks it’s a slap in the face.

Anaru Kira of the Ngāti Kahu iwi, which is based in Whangaroa, Northland says, “For long now she has known of our concerns and now they have downed the Green’s member’s bill. And that is the nuisance this issue is to her own people of Northland.”

But Prime says she has other priorities.

“I am here to fight for my seat again, the general seat of Northland,” Prime said.