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Not one more grain – urgent calls to stop sand mining

The Endangered Species Foundation today added to urgent calls, asking the Auckland Council to end sand mining at Pakiri, to protect the critically endangered tara iti, New Zealand fairy tern.

“The tara iti lives at Pakiri and there are only 16 breeding pairs left in the world” says Stu Muir, Chair of the Endangered Species Foundation. “This is New Zealand’s rarest endemic bird and its habitat is under grave threat.”

Hearings have recently been held by the Auckland City Council to renew the resource consent for sand mining by Kaipara Ltd, who want to take another 2 million cubic metres of sand from the beach over the next 20 years.

“We are calling on the Auckland City Council to make the right decision and stop sand mining in this area,” says Stu. “The fate of the tara iti is closely linked to the fate of our beaches and all the species that depend on them”.

More than 650 public submissions have opposed the resource consent application from Kaipara Limited, while just four submissions (from Allied Concrete, Bridgeman Concrete, the Aggregate and Quarry Association of New Zealand and McCallum Bros) are in support. Those who have opposed the application include hundreds of individuals, Te Whānau o Pakiri, Manuhiri Kaitiaki Charitable Trust, Department of Conservation, Auckland Conservation Board, Tara Iti Golf Club, Forest & Bird, Save Te Arai, the Mangawhai Harbour Restoration Society, and KASM – Kiwis Against Seabed Mining.

“We believe the council needs to listen to the people and the 650 submissions against this application,” says Stu. “We also need to respect the views and position of Ngātiwai and Ngāti Manuhiri as kaitiaki and mana whenua of this rohe, to protect our moana for all species and future generations”.

Unfortunately, the Council’s decision will not be based on how many submissions support or oppose the application. Unless new evidence is presented at the two-week-long resource consent hearing Auckland Council's recommendation will be to approve Kaipara Limited's application, subject to some conditions[1].

At the hearings held:

  • Experts have verified there is a trench, running approximately 4.1km parallel to the Pakiri beach, caused by continuous one location mining undertaken by the current and previous dredge.

  • Steve Riddell, Head of Kaipara Ltd (the company applying for continuation of sand mining) advised that with this new awareness of the trench they have ceased all mining in the area until scientific advice confirms the trench has been naturally refilled.

  • Evidence has been presented on the mining breaches outside of the consent zone[2]

The sand taken is used on Auckland beaches (Mission Bay, Kohimarama, St Heliers and Herne Bay) and used to make concrete for construction and roading industries[3].

The Endangered Species Foundation identified tara iti, the New Zealand Fairy Tern in its Top Ten Most Endangered Species List. Tara iti is listed as “nationally critical” which is the highest threat ranking for any endangered species. 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[4].

The encroachment of human activity on their nesting grounds is a major threat to these birds. Beach narrowing, due to loss of sand, housing developments and weed invasion, forces the terns to nest closer to the sea, putting their eggs at risk during storms. Introduced predators and human disturbance also threaten nesting sites. An intensive conservation programme is underway to protect the NZ fairy tern and has successfully increased the population from an all-time low in 1983 of up to four breeding pairs.

For media enquiries please contact: Stu Muir, Chair P: 027 279 1724 E: [1] [2] Update from the Mangawhai Restoration Society on the hearing: [3] [4] Proposal to Endangered Species Foundation, 13 May 2021, Fairy Tern Charitable Trust

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