by Catherine Delahunty
Last night Gareth Hughes and I completed an urban tour where we met community activists and organisers working on a range of threats to the environment from mining. We had great meetings in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. At each meeting we shared information about deep sea drilling, seabed mining, fracking, lignite mining, underground coal gasification, coal and gold mining proposals. We also covered the map with our knowledge of applications for different types of risky activities from Te Tai Tokerau to Invercargill and out to the Raukumara basin, the Kermadec trench and the Chatham Rise.
The audiences were quick to recognise that this is a national issue. The Government is working closely with the oil, gas and mining industries to facilitate extraction of New Zealand’s finite resources. As well as the issues of ocean, water and soil pollution there were overarching concerns about mining’s contribution to climate change and foreign control of our resources. People were upset with our low tax and royalties rates for the mining industry, and Government subsidies for industry such as the $25 million of taxpayer money which has paid for seismic surveys and the analysis of seismic data.
Each meeting was different but in each place people were using the events to build networks and share the many strategies they have to stop destructive mining in New Zealand. As was discussed, there are particular opportunities to challenge the dirty mining technologies in urban areas. The Bathurst Mining protest in support of Denniston plateau was a great urban success in the heart of Wellington.
Everywhere people were supporting the Greens stand against assets sales and wanted Solid Energy to stay a state asset. We talked about alternatives to the “drill it, mine, it, sell it off” strategy including the promotion of green energy technology, clean food production and valuing the environment as the real economy.
Highlights of the tour included hearing from the Coordinator of Coromandel Watchdog at the Auckland meeting, working with tangata whenua and campus Greens to plan awareness work in the Waikato, sharing the Wellington stage with Caleb Behn from the Salteaux First Nation in Canada about the impacts of fracking on his territory, meeting the Kaikōura anti frackers who had just achieved a ban on fracking alongside the Christchurch ban, and meeting the Southland lignite crew who drove all the way to our Dunedin meeting.
Gareth and I were inspired by the creativity and commitment of communities and we will tour again later this year with more information on creating sustainable jobs and protecting the environment as a positive future for Aotearoa.
The clear message from the people to the Government on these issues “when you are in a hole stop digging!”