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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

We have lost too much already, and should not be intentially destroying native species for the coal industry in the 21st century.

Forest & Bird has celebrated significant wins in working to prevent this mine, almost all of which is on public land. In 2018 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

Then in 2020 the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Forest & Bird, protecting the reserve where most of the mine was proposed. The Court held that under the Reserves Act, the local council is required to maintain the area’s natural features.

This was a significant win and could have implications for other council-held reserves around New Zealand.

The mining company have said they still intend to mine Te Kuha, but we are committed to protecting this precious land. You can help us.

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