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Tara Iti Join Thousands of Protestors to Stop Fast Track Bill

Updated: Jun 11

On Saturday, June 8, 2024, three tara iti, New Zealand’s most endangered bird species, joined thousands of protestors in Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland, to voice their opposition to the Fast Track Bill. They were supported by people from Save Our Sands Mangawhai Pakiri, and Tāngaroa Tuia te Ora, the Endangered Species Foundation to say "no" to the New Zealand Government's latest plans to fast track major projects without public input or consent.

"We are hear today to represent the endangered species who cannot speak for themselves," says General Manager, of Tāngaro Tuia te Ora, Natalie Jessup.

Right across the country some of our most precious natural habitats are under threat from the prospect of mining and massive water projects, which have the potential to create massive destruction for our waterways and our moana (sea).

"We are calling on the government to listen to the people and take a long term view. We do not need to put short-term profits ahead of the wellbeing of people and our planet," says Jessup.

The Critical Fight Against Sand Mining

Mangawhai Harbour and Pakiri Beach are critical habitats for the tara iti and 26 other endangered bird species. For the past 80 years, Ngāti Manuhiri have opposed this sandmining and in recent years there has been increased support from local groups, culminating in a significant decision by the Environment Court in April to decline long-term mining consents at Pākiri to the mining company McCallum Brothers. This decision was a result of extensive community input from iwi, environmental organisations, community groups, scientists, and government agencies.

Seabed Floor Destruction Highlighted

The process at the Environment Court enabled members of the public to present evidence and highlighted serious discrepancies in the mining company’s reports. It was discovered by Damon Clapshaw, that sand mining trenches up to 2.7 meters deep, 15 meters wide, and 3 kilometers long had destroyed the seabed. These trenches were far more extensive than reported by McCallum Brothers and the findings exposed the company's misleading information and errors in calculating annual sand replenishment rates. Without input from the community this lack of transparency would not have been discovered.

The Fast Track Bill: A Threat to Environmental Accountability

The New Zealand Government’s Fast Track Bill has raised widespread concerns among environmentalists and community groups. The bill proposes to expedite major projects, bypassing essential public input and consent. This could lead to inadequate environmental assessments and undermine the democratic process.

Potential Consequences include:

  • Environmental Risks: Silencing public and expert opinions could result in inadequate environmental assessments, causing long-term ecological damage.

  • Loss of Biodiversity: Fast-tracking projects without thorough reviews endangers ecosystems, which are vital for the survival of species like the tara iti.

  • Increased Civil Unrest: Centralizing decision-making power and sidelining public and expert voices could lead to greater civil unrest as communities feel ignored and disempowered.

Collective Action for a Sustainable Future

The protest in Tāmaki Makaurau and across the country has demonstrated a unified opposition to the Fast Track Bill. We need to restore our natural environments and ensure transparency and collective action in protecting the planet for future generations.

"There were thousands and thousands of people here today," says Jessup.
"The march stretched right from Aotea Square to the bottom of Queen Street, and this is just the beginning. The show of strength today, and opposition from people of all walks of life shows just how strongly so many people care, and we will continue to raise our voices and take action to stop these plans."

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