To: The New Zealand House of Representatives
Moratorium on Mining Permits for Conservation Land
We request that you place an immediate moratorium on accepting any applications for and any further processing or granting of, any prospecting, exploration or mining permits on, in or under public conservation land in Aotearoa New Zealand, including stewardship land, administered by Department of Conservation under the Conservation Act.
Why is this important?
In 2017, in the Speech from the Throne, the Labour/NZ First/Green Government made a commitment to having no new mines on conservation land. The Government has, however, failed to implement this policy, and as a result numerous permits for mining related activity (prospecting, exploration and mining) have been granted across the nation’s conservation estate. This is unacceptable.
Conservation land is highly valued by New Zealanders, and is held by the Government for conservation purposes. It makes up approximately 1/3 of New Zealand's total land area and is simply too precious to mine.
There are classes of conservation land including National Parks, public conservation land and marine reserves and other protected lands and waters; public conservation land includes forest parks, scenic reserves, ecological reserves and stewardship land.
Stewardship land has been cited as one of the main reasons that the no new mines policy has not been implemented. Some are of the belief that stewardship land is 'low value' and should be excluded from the policy, when in fact, stewardship land includes a range of land, a significant portion of which has very high conservation values; stewardship land contains approximately 28% of biodiversity priority sites.
The Hauraki Coromandel region alone has more than 300,000 hectares of stewardship land, including the Hukarahi Conservation Area, the site of the first closure due to kauri dieback on the Peninsula, the Whangapoua Forest Conservation Area, some 5000ha of mature native forest and the Otama Wetland, a part of the nationally significant Otama Dune system.
To groundtruth all stewardship land in Aotearoa will take many years, and our conservation land must not be left vulnerable to mining until that happens. The simple fact is that the Government indicating their intent to ban new mines being established on conservation land has resulted in the industry not only rushing to get permits to prospect, explore and mine in areas they want to target, but also lobbying to exclude stewardship land. This can not be a blanket in or out decision - there is too much at stake.
Changes proposed in any review of stewardship land must include giving effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi via negotiations with manawhenua of that rohe.
A moratorium would ensure that the question of stewardship land can be considered carefully to ensure that any policy is robust in protecting all conservation land, while not sacrificing some of our most significant areas to mining while the policy is finalised.