by Catherine Delahunty
This week the mining industry, the Ministry of Energy and Resources, and the Far North Mayor came to Waitangi to supposedly launch the results of the aerial survey of Te Tai Tokerau. At the presentation we saw no maps or results from the survey that has cost us all about $2 million and has helped miners pin point their targets. Instead we had rhetoric from Phil Heatley about how Northland can be Taranaki. He doesn’t seem to know what’s going in the environment of Taranaki let alone the fact that oil and gas are not particularly abundant in the north. Wayne Brown chanted that we need jobs, jobs and more jobs.
However kaumatua and other speakers at the event expressed little enthusiasm for this non-presentation. They wanted to know why decisions about the future of their whenua were being made prior to the resolution of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. There were no answers to their questions.
Some of the speakers had been on the hikoi against asset sales and they expressed resolute opposition to the mining of the north. Loitering inside the meeting were several mining and drilling companies who stand to gain from Government and local government facilitation of their industry in the north. Newmont Gold had a team there, but they cannot be under the illusion that they were welcomed by hapū and communities. The message was clear outside the presentation venue where 80 people were protesting loudly for two and a half hours. I joined the group and congratulated them for their commitment to loving and protecting their communities and their environment.
People from Northland places such as Whakapara and Whangaroa have reason to be vigilant as miners seek permits to further explore for gold, silver and other minerals in their rohe. These foreign owned companies have a track record which bears little scrutiny, and those of us from Coromandel who have experienced the negative impacts of mining on our area recommend positive and peaceful opposition to their incursions on the ground. Local media asked me about the Green alternatives to mining and it was great chance to talk about expanding the Te Tai Tokerau organic kai, building a green valued added forestry, clean teach energy jobs, eco-tourism aquaculture in the right place, and valuing the workers in the caring professions.
I have been invited back to the north in early July to talk and to strategise on the mining issues and I am looking forward to it because the opposition is not only fired up, they are inspiring.