McCallum Bros wants to continue extracting sand from the seabed off the Pakiri coast. It’s applied for a resource consent to extract up to 76,000 cubic metres of sand each year for the next 35 years – a move that has angered community groups. Callum McCallum, of McCallum Bros, and Ken Rayward of Save our Sands, make the case for and against sand extraction …
Callum McCallum: Sustainable extraction that protects the environment
This month, submissions opened as Auckland Council considers our applications to continue extracting sand off the coast of Pakiri. We know that many of you will have questions about what we are doing and why we are doing it. You love your coastline and want to protect it.
My family has a long association with the area. My father and grandfather both worked on the Hauraki Gulf, we started extracting sand from Pakiri more than 75 years ago. I am proud to continue their legacy, and to do so in a way that minimises any environmental impact so that future generations can continue to enjoy the natural beauty and resources of Pakiri.
Why Pakiri sand?
Pakiri sand is unique. It is some of the highest quality sand available in New Zealand, making it ideal to produce high-strength concrete for use in Auckland’s major infrastructure projects. That is why Pakiri sand supplies about half of Auckland’s concrete sand requirements. It has been used in some of the country’s most important infrastructure projects – including the Sky Tower, the Newmarket viaduct, Puhoi and Waterview tunnels, central interceptor, and the city rail link. Better still, there is an enormous amount of sand available off Pakiri with experts estimating the system may contain more than three billion cubic metres. The amount of sand we have extracted from Pakiri over the years is infinitesimal – about 0.15 per cent of the total potential sand volume over the last 55 years – and new sand is entering the system all the time. What we are extracting is being replenished by natural coastal processes moving sand in and around the whole embayment.
Like most Aucklanders, we love the Hauraki Gulf and take our obligation to minimise any environmental impact seriously. That is why we commissioned independent research from some of New Zealand’s leading scientific institutions to help us understand our impact. This research concluded that sand extraction is having a less than minor environmental and ecological impact.
And because our extraction occurs at night, we try not to interfere with beach users’ sense of isolation at Pakiri, which is part of the appeal of this pristine beach. In fact, Pakiri Beach is one of the most monitored beaches in the world, and our experts have not found any impacts on the shoreline that can be attributed to sand extraction. Instead, they have concluded that with continued careful management and appropriate monitoring, sand can be extracted while minimising the environmental impact into the future.
We know that many of you will have questions. That is why we have launched www.thenittygritty.co.nz that provides all our research and aims to answer many of the questions you might have about sand extraction. My commitment to you is that if we are granted consent, we will extract sand sustainably and in balance with the environment. I encourage you to look at the website and to have your say.
Ken Rayward: A major threat to our coastal communities
For over 70 years McCallum Bros has taken sand from Mangawhai and Pakiri, making their own rules while ignoring others. Their financial gain has been at the community’s cost. They have been mining sand without respect for this spectacular environment, concern for beach destruction, appreciation of the effects of climate change on sea levels and threats to bird and marine life, or recognition of iwi mana. There has been an arrogant dismissal of viable alternative supply options. It has created a major threat to our coastal communities. Everyone who loves New Zealand should make submissions opposing the two new sand mining resource consents, for these reasons:
Endangered bird life
The fairy tern is recognised as the most at-risk endangered seabird in New Zealand. Sand mining is the biggest single threat to their future existence, destroying both their feeding locations and breeding habitats. On this point alone, the consents should not be granted.
Trust and good conduct
Issuing resource consent to any company for a 35-year term should demand the highest level of proven operational integrity by the applicant. But, in its current consent, McCallum has been found wanting. Respected marine scientists conducted their own underwater survey and discovered a trench over four kilometres long and five metres deep. A trench of this magnitude will disrupt the whole seabed ecosystem. During a recent eight-day hearing, McCallum went from total denial of the trench’s existence to finally acknowledging its long term knowledge of it. They acknowledged it had been caused by repetitive mining in one location, which was unlawful under their current consent. Giving away the keys to our coastline to a company whose operational integrity is under serious challenge is something that Auckland Council should not do.
Alternative supply options
There are recognised commercially viable and environmentally sustainable alternative supply options. The Kaipara Harbour is one of these, with Atlas operating as a responsible miner and achieving the same market share as McCallum. This refutes McCallum’s claims that the construction sector only wants Mangawhai-Pakiri sand. The quality of Kaipara Harbour sand is proven to be highly acceptable to the Auckland construction industry. There is also an over-abundance of sand in the Kaipara Harbour.
McCallum is seemingly unaware that its persistent mining in an area that is closed off from receiving replenishing sand supplies will result in beach erosion, coupled with heightened ocean levels, causing irreversible coastal damage.
Maori mana and values
The granting of these mining consents would fail to recognise the relationship between Maori and the coastline. The damage to the marine environment will impact their customary activities and way of life.
National recognition of environmental impact
There is growing public opposition to this consent with a national petition against it. Greenpeace Aotearoa has committed its full resources to prevent the irreversible environmental destruction that would occur if the consents are granted.
The petition can be signed at https://community.greenpeace.org.nz/petitions/mangawhai-pakiri-sos
Make a public submission
Public submissions on McCallum Bros consent close on December 10. Submissions can be made on the Auckland Council website: