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Stop Sand Mining - Save Endangered Tara Iti

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

The Endangered Species Foundation is today calling on the Auckland Council to immediately halt all further sand mining at Pakiri, the home of the endangered tara iti, New Zealand Fairy Tern.

The fairy tern is our rarest bird and nests on beaches between Whangarei and Auckland. Unfortunately, McCallum Bros Limited has applied for resource consents from the Auckland Council to extract sand from an area of 6.6km2 along 10.4km of the Pakiri Beach shoreline – a key habitat for this vulnerable bird. The proposed extraction volumes include an annual average of up to 125,000m3/year over any consecutive 5 year period and a 35 year consent is sought.

At risk and endangered birds have been negatively impacted by the sand mining and several are declining or critical, including the Tara Iti – NZ Fairy Tern. The Fairy Tern is listed as “nationally critical”, which is the highest threat ranking for any endangered species. With only 16 breeding pairs left it is New Zealand’s rarest endemic breeding bird with a current population of fewer than 40 birds.

Once widespread around North Island coasts, its current breeding sites are Waipu, Mangawhai, Te Arai, Pakiri and Papakanui Spit. According to an expert in birds, Ian Southey MSc (Hons) the degradation of airy Tern nesting areas and feeding areas caused by the sand mining could lead to their functional extinction in the region.

In its submission the Endangered Species Foundation called for sandmining to stop until:

  • all legal processes are completed

  • mana whenua and local communities have been consulted with in a genuine way

  • the required information is gathered and analysed to ensure the best decisions are made for all parties.

"The Endangered Species Foundation is backed by over 2200 supporters and we stand in solidarity with other groups and individuals who are defending this fragile area, including Te Whānau o Pakiri, Mr Ian Southey (IS) – NZFTCT, Greenpeace, Friends of Pakiri Beach, KASM, SOS and the Mangawhai Harbour Restoration group," says Natalie Jessup, General Manager of the Endangered Species Foundation.

ESF’s principal concerns around consenting more sand mining in this area are:

1. The threats to endangered bird and marine life

2. The lack of recognition and impact of global warming

3. The irreversible destruction of seabed eco-systems

4. The current, fragile state of coastline, linked with finite sand supply

5. The lack of recognition and provision for the Principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi

6. The lack of recognition of proven environmentally sustainable, commercially viable alternative supply options

7. The operational integrity of the consent applicant

Recognition of Te Tiriti o Waitangi

The proposed activity impacts adversely on marine environment, cultural values, customary activities and way of life and continuing to mine in this area without mana whenua approval is a direct breach of the agreements made in Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

"Sandmining in this rohe / area, does not consider the kaitiakitanga values of tāngata whenua, whānau and hapū and the communities most directly impacted by the activity," says Stu Muir, Chair of the Endangered Species Foundation. "Continuing to mine this sand is a breach of the duty of active protection of taonga (treasures) including the restoration of mauri (life-force)".

The Endangered Species Foundation opposes further sand mining consents in this area, and recommends that further sand mining is off limits forever. In the short term, the consent process and any further mining needs to be stopped until consultation is properly held with tāngata whenua, whānau and hapū.

"We believe that the commitments made in Te Tiriti o Waitangi, including the protection of all taonga species and native habitats, need to be upheld immediately," says Stu.

You can read the full Endangered Species Foundation submission here.

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