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Open letter seeks to Protect Karangahake

Posted 4 July 2018 by Gold FM in Environmental and History, Arts & Culture

Protect Karangahake has written an open letter calling for Labour and the Greens to follow through on their commitment to extend Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act 1991 to have the Karangahake Gorge included, which would provide extra protection from mining (see the link to sign the letter below).

A group of politicians, including the now Minister of Conservation and Minister for the Environment, Eugenie Sage and David Parker received Coromandel Watchdog’s petition asking for the extension of Schedule 4 on Parliament’s steps last August.

Protect Karangahake spokesperson, Ruby Powell says, “Almost eight months have passed since they have taken office and we co-launched the open letter alongside Coromandel Watchdog, urging the Ministers to follow through on that promise promptly.

Adding land to Schedule 4 is a gazetting process and we don't want it to get caught up in the debate about mining on conservation land nationwide in September (but we will certainly be a part of that too!).”

Last Sunday, July 01, Protect Karangahake supporters met at the new Karangahake Hall for a ‘crafternoon’ followed by a Mountain Glow hikoi. Families and friends signed the letter and made lanterns and candles from mainly locally sourced ingredients. There was singing and warming soup before braving the rain on a candlelit hikoi to do some waiata in the tunnel.

To have the Karangahake Gorge included in Schedule 4 has been a goal for the group over the last four years.

In the open letter Protect Karangahake wrote, “We write this open letter to ask that you implement the extension of Schedule 4 with urgency, as mining activity is currently underway in this area of ecological importance.

The Schedule 4 area established in the 1990s by the National Government has a southern boundary at the Kopu-Hikuai Highway for political rather than ecological reasons. The conservation lands from Kopu-Hikuai to Te Aroha are equally as important as the Schedule 4 areas on the northern peninsula, and also deserve protection from the damaging effects of mining.

Local communities have worked hard for several decades to extend Schedule 4 and its protections to these lands, which are well known for their significant recreational and ecological values. One petition asking to extend Schedule 4 gained 17,000 signatures.

Right now there is prospecting and exploration activity taking place in this area, including in the habitat of the world's most endangered amphibian, the Archey's frog. It also encompasses areas of high recreational use, which are vital to the local economy. Walking, bike trails and other nature-based tourism is growing here; MBIE estimates that visitors contribute $454m each year to the combined Thames-Coromandel and Hauraki Districts.

We look forward to your response to this letter and the implementation of both Labour and the Green Party's excellent commitment to extending Schedule 4 for the benefit of the region, the environment and the nation as a whole.”

A Schedule 4 classification restricts access to land where Schedule 4 applies. Currently, all Crown conservation land north of the Kopu-Hikuai Road and the inner waters of the Coromandel Peninsula (and most adjacent offshore islands and Hauraki Gulf islands) are included in Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act 1991.

Here's the link to the letter…/honour-the-commitment-to…

Photos: Protect Karangahake