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2017 Election – which party will protect Karangahake from mining?

We have asked the Coromandel candidates and the Conservation spokespeople from each party to give us clear statements on exactly where they stand on extending Schedule 4, and protecting Karangahake conservation land from mining.

We have received replies from Labour and the Greens, affirming both parties commitment to extending Schedule 4.  Furthermore, the Greens have a policy of banning mining on all conservation land, nationwide.  We have not heard back from National or NZ First. However, based on their responses at local candidates meetings, we do know that neither of these parties are committed to protecting the Coromandel from mining.

So, here are the responses we did get:

Scott Summerfield, Green Party candidate for Coromandel:  “The Greens have pushed for years to extend schedule 4 south from the Kopu-Hikuai Road to take in all of the Coromandel ecological area, which would include all of Te Aroha in the Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park and northwards. We have advanced that policy now though. We are committed to banning all mining on all conservation land, right across the country. This will stop environmental destruction through mining activity on the DOC estate and make sure that conservation land is preserved for biodiversity purposes, protecting historic sites and ensuring public recreation opportunities.”

Mojo Mathers MP, Green Party Conservation Spokesperson: “Our conservation lands are precious and need to be protected for all to enjoy, not opened up for mining or extraction. The Green Party has a proud history of standing up for conservation land. We will extend schedule 4 protection for the Coromandel as far south as Mt Te Aroha including Mt Karangahake. We will also prohibit any new exploration, prospecting and mining on or under all conservation land.”

Nathaniel Blomfield, Labour Party candidate for Coromandel: “Labour has a long history of opposing mining on the Coromandel. In the 80’s we imposed a ban on open cast mining.  In the 90’s Labour MP Judith Tizard’s 1997 private members bill to ban all mining on conservation and the coast on the Coromandel Peninsula as far south as Te Aroha was passed.  This forced National to pass the Schedule 4 law in 1997. But National’s law was a compromise because they just drew an arbitrary line across the peninsula – the Kopu Hikuai Road – so only DoC land north of the road was included. This was strongly opposed by Labour at that time.

In 2010, when National tried to open up schedule four land to mining on the Coromandel, Labour was at the forefront of the opposition with Labour’s “ours not mine” campaign. Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern campaigned strongly to keep Coromandel land and coast in Schedule 4. She came to the Coromandel on several occasions to support the campaign and marched up Queen Street along with 30,000 other protesters. In 2014 and again this year, Labour has a policy of extending Schedule 4 south of the Kopu Hikuai Road to include all conservation land and the coast as far south as Te Aroha. So this covers Mt Karangahake where active prospecting is occurring.

Personally I remember growing up on the Thames coast and our car having multiple Coromandel NO MINING bumper stickers on it and the no mining movement being so important to my parents! To have it still even an issue just goes to show how social issues and the interests of the people of the Coromandel have been put on the back burner by the National govt in favor of the interests of corporations.
I look forward to the Labour/Green govt after Sept 23rd finally putting this issue to rest.”

Nanaia Mahuta MP, Labour Party Conservation Spokesperson: “Labour acknowledges and values the natural heritage features of the Coromandel Peninsula. In recognition of this commitment Labour in Government will extend Schedule 4 protection from the Coromandel south to Mt Te Aroha.”

WHICH PARTY HAVE COMMITTED TO PROTECTING KARANGAHAKE CONSERVATION LAND FROM MINING-

Not even a 3-tonne boulder could stop us!

Saturday’s Rally for the Mountain was split in two, when a boulder smashed into SH2, closing the Gorge and separating rally-goers.  About 150 people gathered at the Waikino Hall, and another 150 at the Karangahake Hall.

We were amazed to have so many people show up,  despite extreme circumstances, and SO many people getting turned away because of the rain and the Gorge closure.

We had people turning up from Whakatane, Gisborne, Tauranga, and all over the Coromandel to show support for our mountain.

We’ve had so much good feedback, with people feeling inspired and moved.

On the Paeroa side of the Gorge, more than 150 people gathered on a footbridge crossing the main highway, holding banners. The gathering included karakia from local iwi representatives and guest speakers Green MP Catherine Delahunty and Green candidate for the Coromandel Scott Summerfield.

MP Catherine Delahunty said she was impressed by the turnout.

“This group represents an even greater number all across New Zealand who want conservation land protected.”

“The fact that Karangahake, a sacred maunga lying deep in the heart of conservation land, is being opened up for mining is shocking and wrong.

“It’s wonderful to see how many people were willing to turn up in the pouring rain to support this event, and we know there are thousands standing behind them who want to see the integrity of conservation land restored.”

On the Waihi side of the Gorge, the second camp of rally-goers gathered in the Waikino Hall, and were treated to live music performance, food, coffee and speakers.

We rounded off the day with a concert The Refinery, showcasing live art performance, film and music.

Artist Dawn Tuffery made this beautiful image of our “rally of two halves but one message”, which perfectly sums up the day.  You can see more of Dawn’s work here.

Dawn Tuffery image

 

Ex-DOC worker arrested on public conservation land

An ex-DOC worker arrested this morning for standing in front of mining vehicles on public conservation land in the Karangahake Gorge says DOC is unable to fulfil their protection and advocacy role, so members of the public are left to do it instead.

Karangahake local Rebecca Gribble says her decision to remain on the road in front of mine vehicles felt like something she just had to do.

“Standing on public conservation land this morning with a mining vehicle coming towards me I felt a profound sense of duty. My feet simply remained rooted to the spot – how could I move aside to let a company through who plan to destroy the very land that I have spent my entire working career trying to protect?”

“I have worked for DOC for the past 15 years on various projects protecting our unique flora and fauna. DOC’s ability to do this has been stripped back over time and now they are nothing but a shell of an organisation.” says Gribble.

“To be arrested while trying to protect DOC land is incredibly sad. The police told me that if I stand in the way of mining vehicles again, I will face court.”

Protest actions on Mt Karangahake have ramped up in the last 3 months after New Talisman Gold Mines Ltd locked off the Portal Pad and commenced clearing land and setting up infrastructure in preparation for triggering their bulk sampling consent, which allows them to take up to 20,000 cubic metres of ore from the mountain over a 2 year period.

Gribble was taken to the Paeroa Police Station, but was subsequently let go with a pre-charge warning.

The community is holding a rally and concert this Saturday September 2nd from 2pm, by the Karangahake community hall, and organisers say it is a chance for people to come together and show just how much support there is for the protection of Mt Karangahake and conservation land throughout the country.

Standing Ground

The Karangahake community stood their ground yesterday morning to stop mining company New Talisman Gold from entering the mining site on conservation land in the Karangahake Gorge.

More than 30 people stood in front of the gate to the mining site, halting work vehicles from entering for more than two hours.

Nine people were physically removed by police, arrested and immediately released.

One person was arrested and removed from the site by police.

Protect Karangahake spokesperson Susan Durcan says the morning went really well and served to strengthen the resolve of the community to stand up against mining in the area.

“We had an amazing turn-out of supporters and peacefully halted work, while demonstrating our opposition to mining on conservation land in our local community.”

“There was a friendly relationship maintained between police and our local community, and our protest felt strong and poignant.”

Our talented videographer friend, Carl Naus, made this beautiful video of that day and it is a must watch.

You can also listen to these live radio interviews at the action, with The Morning Report (approx 4 mins) and Gold FM (approx 5 mins):

Up close at the mine site on Mt Karangahake

Today a group of us went for a bushwalk and scaled down a cliff to reach the back of New Talisman’s mining operation – the site known as the Portal Pad. We stood outside their fencing to bear witness, and record what is happening.

New Talisman are still locking a now completely unnecessary gate at least 50 metres from the site under the guise of “health and safety”, which means it’s impossible for any members of the public to see in from there. So, this is what we had to do.

This area of the mountain was fragile, recovering ecology, coming back to life after years of destructive mining. It has now been taken backwards, and returned to an industrial mining operation again.

BEG

There are generators, a ventilator system, a permanent site office, full underground communications, wifi, a second gate, security fencing around the entire perimeter, a digger, major timber piles, a full-time security presence, 16 mounted cameras, and the workers have already progressed hundreds of metres underground.

ALL of this activity is taking place under the banner of *prospecting*, which is a so-called permitted activity under the Hauraki District Council’s district plan, apparently allowing 5kg samples to be taken from the mine.

So what does that mean? It means the company have not triggered their 2 year resource consent yet, and so are not bound by the conditions that pertain to it. They can get all their preparation done for their bulk sampling without using up any of that 2 year period, or needing to have a Traffic Management Plan in place. It means the regulatory framework is utterly skewed in favour of mining, and not even sensitive, recovering conservation land is safe! We won’t have it!

Once they start bulk sampling, New Talisman plan on taking 100,000 tonnes of ore per annum out of the mountain, over a 2 year period. And, according to them, that is just the beginning.

We WON’T have it!

Stand with us at our Rally for the Mountain on September 2nd, and say no to mining on conservation land!

Grandmother blocking mine road

On Monday local Karangahake resident Linda Gilmore refused to let New Talisman Gold Mines vehicles access their mine site on Mt Karangahake.

Gilmore, a local business owner, has lived in the area for 35 years and was forced to sell her home in Waihi after conditions became unbearable because of mining operations.

“To hear a mining company is coming here [to Karangahake], all I can think of is the lies we were told, the noise, the blasting, the trucks, the total lack of thought for the intrinsic values of life.”

“I love this mountain and all the beautiful walks around here,” said Gilmore.

“We should not have to share conservation land with a mining operation.”

Gilmore raised her children in the area and her family has spent a lot of time in Karangahake gorge, walking, camping and now cycling.

“They love it here, and so do my grandchildren,” said Gilmore.

“A lot of money has been spent on the cycle trail and other tracks in the Karangahake Gorge to successfully encourage tourism, to start mining here now is ridiculous,” continued Gilmore.

Gilmore had previously written to the Minister of Conservation explaining why mining was inappropriate in Karangahake and asking her to come see for herself. She received a stock standard reply from the Ministry’s secretary stating it would be looked into and may reply if “deemed necessary”.

Last week, a petition asking to extend the ‘Schedule 4’ land classification to protect all conservation land in the Coromandel from mining, was presented to Parliament.

Gilmore says she is happy the group now has the commitment of the Labour and the Green party to extend the Schedule 4 land classification.

“But I think it’s disappointing that Maggie Barry is refusing to consider the idea.”

Gilmore said she now sees the local community is left with no other option than peaceful resistance.

“This is our only choice.”

Karangahake community takes fight for mountain to beehive

Parliament2Our Wellington trip was such a great success! We gathered supporters to Parliament’s grounds to stand with Coromandel Watchdog of Hauraki presenting their petition calling for the extension of Schedule 4 to protect Mount Karangahake and ALL the conservation land of the Coromandel-Hauraki region.
The petition was handed to Catherine Delahunty by Cath Wallace, long term Watchdog activist and all round legend, amidst karakia, waiata, and chanting. It was officially presented to Parliament by Catherine the next day. Labour’s environment spokesperson, David Parker, was in attendance and he made it clear to us that a Labour government will implement the extension of Schedule 4 and will ALSO make Schedule 4 itself far more robust, which was great to hear!
The fact that New Talisman have started mining operations on Mount Karangahake, and the sacred maunga is now in danger of becoming a full scale industrial operation once again, is the perfect illustration of why the entire Coromandel-Hauraki region should have been included in Schedule 4 protection from the start – not just land north of the Kopu-Hikuai road. The Watchdog petition will now go through the official channels, and all going well, will go before a Select Committee in the new term of Parliament. And we will be supporting it all the way!
We then went from the steps of Parliament into the public gallery to watch Catherine Delahunty question Maggie Barry about why National are allowing a private mining company to lock off conservation land and prospect for gold in an area deemed a national treasure, and whether Maggie would listen to the petitioners and guarantee that the Coromandel’s precious places would be protected. We were disappointed, but not surprised, to hear Maggie Barry simply answer “No, I will not!”.
Meanwhile, our big Avaaz petition is still gathering momentum, currently at 16,690 signatures and climbing, so we’ve decided to make it HUGE, and use it to maximum advantage AFTER the election. So, keep sharing it and stay tuned for what’s next!

Gold fever doesn’t faze Karangahake community

The Karangahake community has vowed to double the resistance in its bid to stop mining in the Karangahake Gorge, following gold mining company New Talisman’s claim to have have “struck gold” this week.

Karangahake local Susan Durcan says; “No matter how much gold they find it will not change the fact that kiwis are being shut out of conservation land, so that a small few can profit.”

“While New Talisman spouts hype about their gold find, what they don’t realise is that our community, and communities all across New Zealand are driving the movement to restore the mana of their conservation land and our resolve is only growing stronger – that’s what’s important here,” she says.

“While New Talisman have locked the gate to conservation land, and proceeded to hunt for gold, New Zealanders are standing up in ever growing numbers around the country and demanding that their conservation land be protected – the recent derailing of plans for the Ruataniwha dam is just one example”.

Protect Karangahake spokesperson Duncan Shearer says the true value of Mt Karangahake lies in its forest and waterways.

“The Karangahake Gorge is one of the most popular DOC sites in New Zealand – what sort of message does it send to overseas visitors about how much we value our natural resources?”

“It is part of the conservation estate and is an important ecological corridor. We need to protect this land from toxic gold mining industries and shift towards an economy that offers sustainable and environmentally beneficial industries, like tourism,” he says.

Greens MP Catherine Delahunty condemns mining in Karangahake

Greens MP Catherine Delahunty swapped her Beehive-friendly formal shoes for a pair of red-bands when she hiked up Mt Karangahake this afternoon to declare her support for the local community currently opposing mining in the heart conservation land in the Karangahake Gorge, Coromandel Peninsula.

Delahunty said she made the special visit because she wanted locals to know there was strong support behind them, stretching all the way to parliament.

“These people are on the frontline for the rest of Aotearoa New Zealand, right now,” she said.

“I want them to know that we’ve got their backs – mining on conservation land should not be happening anywhere, and this community is standing up for the rest of the country when they say no to the desecration of their mountain.”

Delahunty and locals walked up to the prospecting site where a gate, usually open to the public, had been locked and security put in place after mine prospecting began two weeks ago.

Delahunty said she was upset to see conservation land shut to the public.

“There shouldn’t be gates, barbed wire and security on conservation land, protecting toxic industry.”

“In 2010, 25,000 New Zealanders marched to demand conservation land be protected from mining, the Government is betraying their values in allowing this to happen on DoC land ” Delahunty said.

Click here to see the video

Protest walk to the locked gate

Locals and supporters from across the wider community came together last Sunday in the iconic Karangahake Gorge, Coromandel Peninsula, to protest the locking up of conservation estate and the locking out of the local people while destructive mineral exploration took place. We marched up into the heart of this native forest and gathered outside the locked gate, bearing witness to this scandal. Thank you to those that came at such short notice. We will see you up there again very soon!
We told New Talisman Gold Mines to “unlock the gate”and give conservation land back to the public. Mining has no place on Mt Karangahake.