Kaipara Ltd legal representative Morgan Slyfield.
Commissioner chair Les Simmons.
A new map produced by Kaipara Ltd sections off an area to be avoided by dredging, marked in grey.
Hearings for Kaipara Ltd’s resource consent application to dredge two million cubic metres of sand offshore from Mangawhai and Pakiri began this morning.
Just weeks ago, it was revealed by the Mangawhai Harbour Restoration Society and Friends of Pakiri group that Auckland Council’s consent compliance monitoring team was investigating Kaipara Ltd due to alleged environmental damage.
Mangawhai Harbour Restoration Society chair Ken Rayward says the society organised a team of divers who reported that an 18km trench had been caused by continual dredging of a single stretch of seabed.
At the hearing this morning, Kaipara Ltd legal representative Morgan Slyfield said it was not a trench, but a number of four to five kilometre “swales” that are 2.4 metres deep and 10 to 20 metres wide.
Mr Slyfield further argued that it was not the commissioner’s job to consider allegations of non-compliance of the current consent as part of a new consent hearing.
“It is not your jurisdiction and cannot be used as a basis for refusing consent,” he said.
He said over time the swales would fill in, and that from 2023 Kaipara Ltd would survey the affected seabed each year in March or April.
Mr Slyfield presented a map to commissioners where the depressions had occurred and outlined a proposed area to avoid dredging, as part of conditions for the new consent.
Commissioner chair Les Simmons rebuked Mr Slyfield saying that this information ought to have been provided to Auckland Council’s consent monitoring team rather than revealed on the day of the hearing.
“Kaipara Ltd would not resist making further statements to Council,” Mr Slyfield replied.
Mr Slyfield also argued that commissioners should not consider the cumulative effect of the dredging by other companies in the area. He said McCallum Bros’ consent was due to expire and may not be renewed.
“The outcome of McCallum’s future consent application would be speculative. There is no legal requirement to consider the effects of combined consents,” he said.
McCallum Bros had consent to extract 76,000 cubic metres of sand on the same shore, but it has expired and further hearings will be held once all evidence has been submitted.
Mr Slyfield distinguished McCallum’s extraction activity as being nearshore, while Kaipara Ltd’s extraction takes placed at a depth of 25m.
He said that at that depth, sand extraction from the seafloor did not affect the beach.
“Just 0.3 per cent of total supply of sand has been removed from Pakiri so far, and the new application only seeks a further 0.1 per cent.”
Relationships with iwi were also touched on at the hearing. Mr Slyfield said an ongoing “cultural liaison” payment had been made to Ngati Wai since the last consent.
But he said that since 2018, communication with Ngati Wai and Ngati Manuhiri had diminished.
“That is not for a lack of trying. I am anticipating they will submit at the hearing and hope it will begin a fruitful relationship.”
However, he said Te Uri o Hau had provided a cultural values assessment and that a “cultural liaison agreement” would likely soon be finalised.
Mr Slyfield said modern society, and in particular Auckland City, relied on Pakiri’s sand to produce concrete. Sand from the Mangawhai Pakiri embayment is preferred because of the low cost of transport and its fineness of grain.
He said Auckland is predicted to need a million cubic metres of sand each year by the year 2043.