Ngāti Ruanui Fight to Protect their Environment

By Tema Hemi

Despite being declined by the High Court, Trans Tasman Resources (TTR) continues their bid to exploit the South Taranaki Bight in the Court of Appeal today.

TTR had originally been granted consent to extract 50 million tonnes of ironsands from the seabed near Pātea from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).  The High Court overturned that decision and now the Mining Conglomerate will seek to establish a case by arguing the finer points of law under the EEZ Act (Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012).

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ruanui CEO Debbie Ngarewa Packer says, "This is a test case and however the decisions are made after the next couple of days will determine and set the way for every other application that comes through the door to this country.

"To a large degree the crown's agreed. Because they've made big calls that there will be no activity no exploration off shore but now it will come down to whether they will stop this for every other application”. 

Ngāti Ruanui Counsel Justin Inns spoke of the new legal ground that this case is breaking.

"The issues are complicated. This legislation has never been this high in the court system before so of course Ngāti Ruanui and the other parties opposing TTR believe they're on the right side of the issues".

Despite the long battle to protect their takutai moana, Ngāti Ruanui remain resilient and optimistic.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ruanui Chairman Haimona Maruera says, "We have the upmost faith in our processes and have backed ourselves over the last five and we still believe that it is only right and correct. For who? We believe its not just about Ngāti Ruanui but for all the up and coming generations".

In a statement dated 28 August, TTR expressed its' disappointment at the High Decision and has since gone on to issue a fact sheet designed to counter what it calls 'recent media misinformation and exaggerated claims'.

The Fact Sheet which has 17 points of references addressing Ngāti Ruanuis' concerns.  Here are three of those points.

  • The disturbed area totals 0.27 km2 at any one time or an area approximately the same as the turf area of the Westpac Stadium
  • The area is not “pristine” as it has, and continues to be, heavily bottom trawled by the fishing industry
  • The TTR operation will have no effect or impact on the South Taranaki coastline beaches or environment