This morning, Forest & Bird supporters converged on the Denniston Plateau – in the second in a rolling series of protests – calling for the Labour Government to fulfil its 2017 promise to end mining on conservation land.
The Denniston Plateau is one of many publicly owned conservation areas around New Zealand that are at risk of being mined for coal, gold, or other minerals.
Forest & Bird supporters unfurled a replica of the iconic banner from the 2010 March Against Mining at Denniston, just two days after a group took the banner to a conservation land site at risk from mining Coromandel.
The banner is a dramatic visual reminder of the 40,000 New Zealanders who marched to protect New Zealand's conservation land, and the Prime Minister's own promise in 2017 that there would be 'No new mines on conservation land'.
Forest & Bird Chief Executive Nicola Toki said “In 2010, 40,000 people marched down Queen Street, demanding that conservation land be protected from mining. Our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, was among them, carrying a Labour Party placard that read ‘Ours. Not Mines’.
“In 2017 Prime Minister Ardern promised through the Speech from the Throne that the Government would end new mining on conservation land.
“That promise remains unfulfilled. But with the Green Party's Crown Minerals (Prohibition of Mining) Amendment Bill on the table, Prime Minister Ardern and her cabinet colleagues – Ministers Woods, Parker, and Williams – have the opportunity to show they’re serious about climate change and to deliver on this generation’s “nuclear-free moment”. If they are, they must support this bill.”
Since 2017, a total of 78 mining access arrangements on conservation land have been granted, with more exploration and prospecting permits covering over 150,000 ha of conservation land. Approved mining activities on conservation land include exploratory drilling for tungsten near Glenorchy; gold exploration in the Coromandel; and permits granted across Northland, Rotorua and the West Coast to a billionaire Aussie mining magnate.
Numerous new coal mines are proposed for conservation land, including the Te Kuha Mine, which Forest & Bird has been battling in court for years, a new resource consent application for a coal mine in indigenous forest near Reefton that would continue until 2050, and planned widespread mining on the biodiversity hotspot of the Denniston Plateau.
Greenpeace Executive Director Russel Norman, who also attended the historic march against mining in 2010, said: "Given that we are in a climate and biodiversity crisis, coal mining shouldn't happen anywhere, but especially not on conservation land.
"No government should permit the digging up of the most polluting fossil fuel – coal – in the era of climate change. Fossil fuels need to stay in the ground. To mine for them on conservation land is a double insult to nature.
"Greenpeace calls on the government to support MP Eugenie Sage's bill to stop mining on conservation land.”
Forest & Bird Chief Executive Nicola Toki says: “Twelve years on from the March Against Mining, when New Zealand got behind this banner, it’s time to see an end to mines on our shared conservation estate. Our mountains, forests, wetlands and rivers are for our biodiversity, our climate, and our future, not for mining.”
“Our organisations will campaign to protect conservation land from mining until we succeed. This action will be followed by similar events around the country."