WELLINGTON (CU)_Over the past eight years, Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer has been fighting to stop seabed mining off the coast of Taranaki, a coastal and mountainous region on New Zealand’s North Island. Her efforts were finally paid off last September, when the Supreme Court upheld previous High Court and Court of Appeal decisions quashing consents given to Wellington-based Trans-Tasman Resources to annually extract 50 million tonnes of iron sand from the South Taranaki Bight seabed.
Now the Māori Party co-leader is working to get the practice banned nationwide, with the circulation of a petition which calls for the prohibition of seabed mining in all Kiwi waters to “protect out moana (sea)”. “It will wipe out every living thing that’s on the seabed,” Ngarewa-Packer said. “We will be lobbying the other parties for support – come out and back us on this.”
She revealed that her party had intended to go “hearty” on promoting petition back in September but was unable to do so owing to pandemic-induced lockdowns. Now that the summer has arrived and people are out enjoying the sea, she said there was no better time to spread the word. “The privilege of loving our moana, surfing, swimming and living off kaimoana means we each have a collective obligation to Tangaroa (god of the sea) and protect our moana.”
According to Ngarewa-Packer, everybody she had spoken with had pleaded for her to keep going at it, although she could not give exact numbers on petition. The Māori Party co-leader, who has always been in opposition to seabed mining, played a significant role in having TTR’s consents quashed over the past eight years. “It was a catalyst for why I even went into Parliament,” she revealed.
The recent petition launched by her party will go alongside the Prohibition on Seabed Mining Legislation Amendment Bill. “It isn’t just Taranaki. We’ve got to lead the way for other Pacifika nations,” Ngarewa-Packer said. “I won’t give up.”