The Committee has, nearly two years after receiving our petition, decided not to support the extension of Schedule 4 to include the Southern Coromandel. The extension would protect the entire Coromandel Range (and Coromandel Ecological Region) from industrial mining, where now that protection stops at State Highway 25 Kopu Hikuai Road.
We are still reviewing the reasoning behind the decision, but there are a number of aspects that are disappointing, as well as the result. It seems that Labour has not supported this, despite having it as a policy in their manifesto for more than 10 years and Minister David Parker restated that support for the move publicly last year.
The primary reason not to support the petition is cited as being Te Tiriti o Waitangi, however, CWoH had made it clear in the supporting submissions to the Committee that any boundary changes to Schedule 4 must follow a Crown negotiation with Hauraki tangata whenua. However, little specifics are given in the decision as to what the Committee refers to, or if the Committee had input from tangata whenua.
There was submissions made by Oceana Gold and other mining companies that either are, or are intending to, operate within that area as wellas submissions from DOC, MBIE and the National Party, but it appears that there was no specific support from Labour, despite the longstanding policy they have had on it, and the commitments they have made, both when the petition was presented on the steps of Parliament (just before the election in 2017), and at a COnference last year.
As the first Mining Permit application on the Coromandel for many years has been lodged over more than 5000ha of high value conservation land that is home to a number of threatened species, CWoH is very concerned that gold mining may establish in the area, setting worrying precedent for all the Coromandel. Our first step had been for the extension, then to lobby for that to include underground. As it stands, the entire Coromandel is vulnerable to underground mining.
We have deep concerns, about mining activities in the Sothern Coromandel, about the precedents that would be set for all the rest of the Coromandel, and how desperately vulnerable this environment, these species are to industrial mining. We certainly have never even hinted that tangata whenua should be left out of deciding where is portected by Schedule 4 – quite the opposite. It is deeply disappointing that this is what they have come out with.