Why it matters
An open-cast mine on Te Kuha would destroy a unique ecosystem that is home to a range of threatened species.
The mine would remove a forest-covered mountaintop clearly visible from the iconic Buller Gorge and Westport, and permanently damage about 150 hectares of a rare and pristine landscape.
According to Department of Conservation expert evidence, if the mine goes ahead, some species would not survive at the site.
Te Kuha is rich in biodiversity and home to a range of threatened species, including:
- Roroa (great spotted kiwi)
- The rare forest ringlet butterfly, which has its largest known population at Te Kuha
- South Island mātātā (fernbird)
- West Coast green gecko
- The only known occurrence of a tiger beetle and leaf veined slug
- 17 threatened plant species, including the native eyebright
It is not acceptable in the 21st century to intentionally destroy native species. We have lost too much. Yet the dinosaur industry that is coal mining is still given preferential treatment under our country’s laws, such as when decision makers are prevented from considering the climate change impacts of consents to dig up coal.
We have celebrated significant wins in fighting this mine. In 2018 the Government turned down permission for 12 hectares of public conservation land to be included in the mine pit.
Almost all of the proposed mine is also on public land, and the precious native species occur across all of it. But the vast majority of the proposed mine is managed by the Buller District Council. Under the Reserves Act, the council is required to maintain the area’s natural features.
The mining company argued that the Crown Minerals Act overrides this reserves legislation, effectively granting mining an exemption from environmental protection requirements.
Forest & Bird won in court on this issue, protecting precious native species on the site. In 2019 the Supreme Court, at least temporarily, declined leave for the coal company to appeal this decision.
Forest & Bird are also challenging the company’s resource consents in an upcoming Environment Court case.
We are committed to protecting this precious land and you can help us.