Patea Beach protest garners the support of hundreds
A promise to protect Tangaroa from seabed mining was made by about 200 people at the water's edge at Patea Beach on Sunday.
"We're taking back the beach... because it's ours," Patea community board member Jacq Dwyer said.
Despite the lashing winds, the protesters, which comprised members from group Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM), iwi Ngati Ruanui and concerned locals, held hands and formed a line across the South Taranaki beach while looking to the sea and reciting a karakia.
United in the fight against the Environmental Protection Authority's recent decision to allow a mining company to dredge 50 million tonnes of ironsand a year from the South Taranaki Bight, the demonstrators told Tangaroa (the God of the sea) they did not accept the EPA decision.
Dwyer said their fight to stop the mining would continue in an effort to protect the sea for future generations.
"I'm just appalled that it's got to this stage that we have to do this," she said.
"This is not the New Zealand we want, and this is not the Patea that we want."
The EPA's landmark decision on the controversial seabed mining application lodged by Trans Tasman Resources (TTR) was split, with two members of its four-person committee issuing a "strongly dissenting opinion".
Chairman Alick Shaw made the casting vote to approve the application.
The seabed mine would cover an area of 66 square kilometres, between 22km and 36km off the west coast of South Taranaki.
But iwi Ngati Ruanui, KASM and Talley's Fisheries all plan to appeal the decision.
Ngati Ruanui's Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, who led a march across the beach during Sunday's protest, said the fight had only just begun and the iwi would appeal to the Supreme Court and the United Nations.
She said the iwi had issued instructions with its legal counsel, including a QC, and the appeal would be lodged next week.
KASM member Athol Steward travelled from Whanganui to join the protest.
"The threat is to the environment but it is also threatens the future," he said.
"If seabed mining gets approved here then it could potentially get approved elsewhere because there's a precedent that's been set and that is very dangerous."