In a strong show of solidarity with local hapū, Ngāti Hau, nearly 200 members of hapū and iwi from throughout Tai Tokerau marched onto Evolution Mining’s drilling site on the slopes of Puhipuhi mountain north of Whangarei to tell them loud and clear that their toxic gold mining is not wanted.
“The Waitangi Tribunal has confirmed what we’ve always known – Ngāpuhi did not cede sovereignty. We still have our tino rangatiratanga, and on the basis of that authority we’ve issued a ban on all drilling and mining,” said Ngāti Hau Anti Mining Group spokesperson Vaughan Potter. “Puhipuhi mountain, and any minerals that are part of it, are ours to protect. We’ll not stand by and let it be damaged. Get the hell out, Evolution Mining.”
Asserting their sovereignty, marchers raised the Ngāti Hau, United Tribes and Māori flags on drilling equipment, along with banners and placards. Marchers ranged from kuia and kaumatua to babies, and local farmers also turned out in support.
Chairman of Tautoko FM, musician and long-time environmental campaigner, Hori Chapman, of Kōhatutaka hapū of Te Rarawa, said mining was the opposite of what’s needed for a prosperous Te Tai Tokerau. “Our focus is on healing the land, not poisoning it and our waterways with toxic mining waste. Heal the land and we’ll heal the people.”
Serious concerns about damage to waterways and fisheries’ breeding grounds were raised at the morning’s pōwhiri and discussion from around Te Tai Tokerau, including the downstream effects on tuna farming in the nearby Wairua River.
“Evolution Mining has been telling their Australian investors they have the support of the local hapū and community. But look at this crowd from the whole of the region – it sets that record straight,” said MineWatch Northland spokesperson, Tim Howard. “Evolution Mining has no social licence to be here. They are not wanted here in any shape or form.”
Today’s action is the latest in a series of actions organised by the Action Coordination Group in recent months, and have included social media, hīkoi, pickets, and a roadblock on Puhipuhi Road.