Ngāti Hau elders marched into the head office of Citibank in Auckland city today in a bid to stop Evolution Mining Ltd's gold exploration programme on Puhipuhi Mountain. The contingent claims the bank provides financial backing to the mining company a claim the Evolutions Mining Limited vehemently denies.
A busload of Ngāti Hau kaumātua and Northland anti-mining groups delivered a message to Citibank's head office.
Ngāti Hau spokesperson Vaughan Potter says, “We demand Citibank pull their investment. We would also appreciate it if you could help us to pull that investment.”
A spokesperson for Ngāti Hau, Vaughan Potter claims Citibank has been funding Evolution Mining Ltd's exploration project to mine gold at Puhipuhi mountain, near Whāngarei, which they say will pollute the Puhipuhi waterways.
“This sir is what we're going to be left with if Evolution continues to do their mining at Puhipuhi. It is toxic, it is a waste. Ngāti Hau does not want it.”
Ngāti Hau's arrival came unexpectedly for Auckland's Citibank Risk manager.
Citibank Risk Manager Andrew Ayling says, “Thank you for expressing your concerns and coming.”
Citibanks General Manager wasn't present to hear Ngāti Hau's concerns. I asked the Citibank Risk Manager what his response was to their concerns. He said he was unable to comment.
Ngāti Hau and anti-mining protesters have been opposed to Evolution's gold exploration project since 2013.
“They're going to wreck our whenua, they're going to disrespect it and poison our water, and that water goes all the way to Dargaville,” says protestor Jenny Ashby.
“We want to go down showing that we fight for our mokopuna, we tried our best for our mokopuna. As they say leave the footprints,” says protestor Moana Kake.
In a statement Evolution Mining told Te Kāea, "Citibank has no shareholding in Evolution and Citibank has provided Evolution with no funding relating to the Puhipuhi exploration project in New Zealand."
Ngāti Hau and mining protesters stand behind their actions today and will continue to push their concerns to the fore.