Several hundred protesters gathered on Mangawhai Beach last week in the latest bid to stop continued sand mining off the coast between Pakiri and Mangawhai.
Waving placards and posters, around 300 people formed a giant SOS – for Save Our Sand – on the beach in front of the surf club. Organisers had originally hoped to attract more than 1000 people to the protest, but were still happy at the turnout on a winter Sunday morning.
Speakers included Ken Rayward for SOS, Eliot Pryor from Greenpeace and TV presenter Jaquie Brown, as well as Kaipara Mayor Jason Smith, who said the district council unanimously opposed sand mining.
“We’re absolutely aware of what is at stake for this community and this place,” he said.
“The people of Mangawhai have paid a huge price for trying to keep the harbour clean with a wastewater project that was far from perfect.”
He said the harbour was now the cleanest and purest in Northland and sand mining would potentially undo all the hard work that had been done to achieve that.
“Mangawhai is at risk. If the distal spit comes down, if the sandbank is lowered and that ocean comes over the sandbank and into Mangawhai, that’s massively problematical for this place.”
But he warned that there was only so much Council could do, as the resource consent decisions lay with Auckland Council.
“Kaipara District Council only covers 2km out to sea. Just down there, it’s Auckland,” he said, pointing south towards Pakiri. “We have no control over Auckland. We’re trying, through the legal process and resource consent process – but with no money – to make a noise.
“We’re submitting on behalf of Council and we’ll be attending the hearings on behalf of the community. Your Council is doing its very best against some very mighty resources.”
The hearings into two resource consent renewal applications by McCallum Brothers to mine sand inshore and mid-shore off Pakiri Beach over 35 years will start on July 27 at Warkworth Town Hall, and then run on selected days over the following month. As well as the town hall, sessions will be held at Omaha Marae on August 1, Pakiri Hall on August 2 and Warkworth Masonic Hall on August 15, with the hearings due to close on September 1
An earlier resource consent application by McCallums to mine sand off Pakiri and Mangawhai was rejected by independent commissioners on behalf of Auckland Council in May.