By Phil McCabe.    

It’s been a while since my last update – after a very intense few months of hearings on the Trans Tasman Resources application to mine 50 million tonnes of seabed a year off the coast of Patea in South Taranaki.

The hearing was supposed to finish at the end of March and then got extended to the end of May, we were supposed to get a decision at the end of June but a few days ago were told that it won’t be out until the end of July.

Lots of people put a lot of time and effort into pointing out to the Environmental Protection Authority’s Decision Making Committee (DMC) that TTR’s proposal is not only inappropriate, it is unacceptable. Every one of you can be proud of whatever part you played in that. Thank you!  

KASM and Ngati Ruanui in Wellington preparing to deliver our moratorium petition to Parliament last September
KASM and Ngati Ruanui in Wellington preparing to deliver our moratorium petition to Parliament last September

The fact that the six month statutory timeframe for the hearing process was extended four times, and the time period swelled to more than ten months, is evidence that dropping a massive, open-cast mine into the marine environment, an environment that we know very little about, is full of complexities, complexities that nobody appears to have a handle on at this point in time, not even the company.

KASM, supported by a number of other organisations, has been calling for a Moratorium on Seabed Mining since 2015, after the second of two applications got denied by the EPA. A Moratorium means we’re asking the Government to call “Time Out” on seabed mining. Time to have a rethink about whether we as a nation really want to go there.

When I say “there” I mean allowing an untested, unproven, inherently destructive industry to set up shop in our oceans and cause further damage to an already struggling ecosystem and place further pressures on already at risk species.

Last September, supported by two busloads of Ngati Ruanui folk, we delivered our 6000-signature moratorium petition to Parliament, and right now I’m in Wellington to meet up with our lawyer Duncan Currie to present the case for a moratorium to a Parliamentary Select Committee today.

It’s an opportunity to bring this issue directly to members of parliament, the people who decide the rules around what does and does not go on in the waters surrounding Aotearoa New Zealand.

Call me naïve but I believe that above being hard line political operators, every one of our elected politicians are reasonable human beings that share values fundamental to being a New Zealander.

Just as we do, every one of them holds a store of precious memories from time spent in, on or near our beloved marine environment. They cannot escape the fact that as New Zealanders they are bound by deeply rooted moral fibre to take the greatest care in their jobs.

I believe that a moratorium is the most sensible next move and I trust that by the end of the meeting, regardless of what they might have thought when they walked into the room, they will too.

 Here’s our reasons for a moratorium – you’re welcome to read them.