Friday, April 30, 2010


Some excerpts from my submission on mining on schedule 4 land:

Should these areas be removed from Schedule 4?

Land included in Schedule 4 is, by definition, land of the highest conservation value, protected by national park, reserve, or wildlife sanctuary status. In order to be recognised as a national park, an area must contain “scenery of such distinctive quality, ecological systems, or natural features so beautiful, unique, or scientifically important that their preservation is in the national interest” (National Parks Act 1980, s4). In order to be protected as a nature reserve, an area must be home to “indigenous flora or fauna or natural features that are of such rarity, scientific interest or importance, or so unique that their protection and preservation are in the public interest” (Reserves Act 1977, s20). In both cases, the land must be protected in its natural state, and its environmental and scenic values, its flora and fauna protected in perpetuity. Any form of mining is clearly inconsistent with this purpose.

In regards to the specific areas:

  • The Te Ahumata plateau on Great Barrier island is part of the Hauraki Marine Park. The area includes critical habitat for the brown teal, an endangered species. There are estimated to be less than one thousand adult brown teal remaining in the wild, making any removal of habitat a real threat to the species’ continued existence. The area is also home to plants found only on the island such as the Great Barrier Island tree daisy and the Great Barrier Island kanuka.
  • The areas in the Coromandel are home to kiwi, the Hochstetters and Archey’s frogs, and have significant ecological or recreational value.
  • The Otahu Ecological Area is home to kiwi and the Hochstetter’s frog, as well as helping to preserve an intact natural sequence of aquatic habitat from the mountains to the sea. The Parakawai reserve also contributes to this sequence.
  • The areas in Paparoa National Park contain intact podocarp forest and endangered ferns, and provide vital habitat for threatened birds, including Great Spotted kiwi, Kaka and Keruru.

All of these areas have significant ecological and recreational values which would be fatally compromised by mining. They should not be despoiled in this fashion.

Should the government let the Minister of Energy and Resources approve mining in conservation areas?

This is inappropriate. Schedule 4 land is managed by the Department of Conservation for conservation purposes. Joint approval would create a significant risk of those purposes being supplanted by other purposes contrary to those of the Conservation Act (for example, supposed economic benefits). This in turn would create a significant risk of unlawful decision-making, and of access agreements being challenged in court.

In addition, joint approval would muddy Parliamentary accountability for decisions to grant access to high-value conservation land. The two Ministers could point the finger at one another, and accountability could fall through the cracks. That is simply unacceptable, and erodes the principle that Ministers are accountable to Parliament, and through them the people.