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Te Kuha mine site
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Te Kuha mine site. Credit: Neil Silverwood


Stop Te Kuha Mine

Conservation area:

A proposed new open-cast coal mine on the West Coast of the South Island would destroy kiwi habitat and rare ecosystems. Forest & Bird are fighting to protect this unique place from permanent destruction.

Why it matters

An open-cast mine on Te Kuha would destroy a unique ecosystem that is home to a range of threatened species. 

Forest Ringlet Butterfly

Te Kuha is home to the largest known population of the rare forest ringlet butterfly. Credit: Mike Reid

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 cannot be 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.

In June 2018 we celebrated a significant win when the Government turned down permission for 12 hectares of public conservation land to be included in the mine pit.

Te Kuha mine site

Te Kuha mine site. Credit: Neil Silverwood

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.

However, a decision by the High Court found that the Crown Minerals Act overrides this legislation, effectively granting mining an exemption from environmental protection requirements. Forest & Bird have appealed that decision to the Court of Appeal in a case which will be heard in August.

We’re committed to protecting this precious land and are also challenging the company’s resource consents in an Environment Court case. You can help us.

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