Campaigners celebrate win as Auckland Council rejects Pakiri sand mining

Thursday 12 May 2022, 6:07AM

By Greenpeace Aotearoa



A proposal to mine sand off Pakiri beach has been rejected by Auckland Council in a move local groups are celebrating as a huge environmental win.

Mining company McCallum Brothers Ltd has been seeking to expand its offshore dredging operation from Pakiri beach north of Auckland, and have applied for three consents to take a further 9 million cubic metres of sand over a 35 year period. One of the three consents was declined by the Council last Friday, while the other two are still being considered.

Greenpeace seabed mining campaigner James Hita says: "Greenpeace, Te Whānau O Pakiri and Save Our Sands are celebrating the decision as a win for people-power and another example of how community groups are successfully fighting seabed mining."

Last year Greenpeace Aotearoa supported the formation of Save Our Sands Pakiri-Mangawhai, a collective of civil society groups, tangata whenua, and concerned locals. Together, their mission is to stop the 100 year old sand mining operation along the Pakiri-Mangawhai coast, home to rare species including the critically endangered fairy tern, of which less than 40 remain.

"Valiant efforts from grassroot groups like Save our Sands frequently bring about change, but protecting the environment shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of community groups", says Hita.

"The government needs to ban all forms of seabed mining to protect diverse ecosystems and stop the drain on ordinary people’s time and resources."

Save our Sands launched a petition on the Greenpeace community platform late last year calling for an end to sand mining at Pakiri and urging the council to stop the renewal and granting of new mining applications. The petition now has over 8,000 signatures.

Pakiri and Mangawhai beaches, about two hours drive north of Auckland City, are natural treasures, white sand beaches that foster precious ecosystems and are home to rare species. The sand is unique and finite, supplied by sediment that came from the Waikato River more than 20,000 years ago.

These beaches are the site of the largest single nearshore sand mining activity in the developed world.

Hita says the sand extraction is causing erosion, threatening the sand-dunes, destroying shellfish beds, ruining surf breaks and stealing safe nesting spots from endangered birds including the fairy tern who nest in the sand dunes.

"Banning seabed mining not only preserves the ocean floor but also the surrounding environment and marine life, including birds such as the fairy tern that need immediate protection," says Hita.
Save our Sands is also opposing two further applications by Auckland based McCallum Brothers Ltd to mine sand at different depths on the Pakiri coastline including closer to the shoreline.