Ken Rayward - Save our Sands (SOS)
Coastal marine scientist Dr Shaw Mead, when asked if current mining was to cease now, with no further mining allowed, how long will it take for these beaches to recover?
"We don't want your money, just get off our beaches!"
Lawyers, industry expert witnesses, scientists, biologists, economists, politicians, media, sand miners, and importantly, concerned community members from Pakiri and Mangawhai, gathered together for eight days under the same roof to continue the battle over the right for sand mining company McCallum Brothers to be granted a further two mining consents to continue for the next 35 years.
For the first three days, which were held in the Warkworth Town Hall, McCallum Bros presented their case as to why they should be granted these consents. They were supported by an army of expert witnesses and legal counsel to reassure the Mangawhai to Pakiri communities that no environmental harm to our coastline had occurred over the past 70 years of their mining, and nor would there be if the mining was to continue for an extra 35 years.
In addition to addressing the prevailing environmental concerns, McCallum’s main platform for securing the consents was based on the Auckland construction industry needing our Mangawhai-Pakiri embayment sand to enable the expected future growth of Auckland.
Climate change denial
The panel of Commissioners at this hearing were new, and were not involved at the first hearing, but are well versed in its dynamics and the reasoning behind it being refused. This knowledge brought about an early question from them to Mr McCallum during his presentation, when he was asked his understanding of the meaning of precautionary practice. He did not directly answer but stated that the company had commenced an “adaptive management” process which he believed reflected their understanding of the need for a precautionary response.
A commissioner then commented that his experience of this was likened to a “suck it and see” management approach, particularly when working 35 years out. Whilst the commissioner did say later in the hearing that he had some regret for making this statement as adaptive management has a role to play in some organisations, he reaffirmed that he was not convinced it was a workable business practice for McCallum Bros.
A later question to McCallum on what their plans were in the face of climate change and rising ocean levels, was answered with “there is no proof of this, but if it does occur they would manage it then”.
Financial offers to iwi
Mr McCallum advised they had actively sought to establish strong and binding relationships with the local iwi, stating his desire to establish a community liaison group that would include the setting up of a charitable trust that could provide funding to restore horse mussel beds and sea grass growth. This was viewed by locals as an admittance by McCallum of their mining causing the destruction of these critical elements in the marine food chain. Hardly a charitable gesture.
Local iwi later denied the approaches had been made by McCallum Bros, but acknowledged that there had been financial overtures made in order to gain their support for the applications, where in the second part of the hearing – held in the marae at Pakiri and in the Pakiri Hall – both the Maori and Pakeha presenters rejected any consideration of money, stating very strongly “enough is enough, we don’t want your money, just get off our beaches!”
On day one at the marae, the local iwi spokesperson did not just challenge McCallum, he opened by challenging the panel of commissioners on their experience and ability to make a decision, when Maori cultural values and their link to coastal impacts was something as Pakehas they may struggle in understanding.
The panel responded initially from commissioner Basil Morrison, partly in Maori, that he has been involved for eight years in the Treaty of Waitangi and its implementation. This was followed by an explanation from the chairman, Richard Blakey, of their regular updating on indigenous laws, but more importantly he expressed an empathy with the concerns raised, and this gave suitable acceptance.
A well-intended throw-away comment by the chair that whilst he was confident that they would reach an agreement, he noted it was interesting that prior, a room full of PHDs of the highest level could not agree if sand was coming in naturally to the area or if the area was in a state of erosion. This statement alone best exampled the need for a precautionary practice when the decision is made.
All presenters opposing the mining consents requested the precautionary practice be applied to the commissioners’ decision, based squarely on the fact that McCallum Bros had not provided required support data to overcome the wave of concerns raised.
Throughout the hearing there were many environmental messages of concern delivered, with perhaps the most chilling provided by Dr Shaw Mead, a coastal marine scientist, when asked by a commissioner: If current mining was to cease now, with no further mining allowed, in human life years, how long will it take for these beaches to recover? One-hundred-and-fifty years was Mead’s response.
On the second last day of the hearing the panel of commissioners provided a warm welcome to the Kaipara District mayor Dr Jason Smith. Whilst Auckland Council and Northern Regional Council have provided opposing submissions, mayor Smith, with the united support from his council personally addressed the hearing. His focus on the importance of the Mangawhai distal spit, the protected harbour it afforded, and the recognition of lifestyle and commercial impacts on Mangawhai as one of the fastest growing regions in all New Zealand, is now under great threat if the mining consents are granted. He urged the commissioners to decline the two applications.
At the time of writing, before the final hearing day, the Mangawhai Harbour Restoration Society have yet to present their opposing submission, which includes alternative areas of sand supply currently available of equal quality and in sustainable abundance. They will provide evidence that the Auckland construction industry will not be impacted by the closure of mining off our beautiful coast, in fact the industry could prove to be better served, with new areas of supply and alternatives to concrete being developed and commercially active globally.
Sand wars: Rejected mining firm says council doesn't understand 'complex' issue
A mining firm has claimed its resource consent application to continue taking sand from the seabed at Pakiri, north of Auckland, was too “complex” for commissioners appointed by Auckland Council.
Commissioners decided last month not to allow continued mining, partially because of the effect that “depletion of taonga species” caused by sand extraction had had on mana whenua.
But McCallum Bros managing director Callum McCallum said commissioners did not pay enough attention to “economic consequences” and the decision would be better suited to the Environment Court.
The company made an application to the court to overturn the commissioners’ decision last month and is awaiting a date.
Auckland Council has rejected the suggestion that its appointed commissioners were unable to understand the complexity of the application or properly consider the evidence.
“The council resource consent hearing process is well established and the independent commissioners that make decisions on behalf of council are all experts in their respective fields,” a council spokesperson said.
Last month, the Aggregate and Quarry Association sounded a warning that losing the consent could result in concrete shortages as early as next year.
Its chief executive, Wayne Scott, said that half of the sand used to make concrete for construction in Auckland came from Pakiri.
McCallum’s comments echoed this. “Without this sand, the construction market could be hit with a major supply shock, seriously impacting housing, transport and other infrastructure developments,” he said.
But other industry players – and some of Auckland's largest concrete consumers – don't agree.
City Rail Link spokesperson Nick Smith said the project was not anticipating a shortage in concrete or its constituent ingredients.
He said that its concrete suppliers were contractually obliged to notify City Rail Link if they anticipated a shortage, and there had been no such warning.
A Watercare spokesperson also said none of the Central Interceptor concrete suppliers had warned of any sand shortage that might affect delivery of the project.
A major supplier of concrete in the Auckland market told Stuff it did not believe the arguments put forward by the Aggregate Association were “facts based”.
The supplier was not pleased that the association, of which it is a member, had made the statement.
“Our view is that there is plenty of consented sand in Auckland between the industry players. More than what is being lost by McCallums’ consent.”
They said that sand from the Kaipara Harbour was high quality enough to make so-called “high-stress concrete” and that the sand there was constantly replenished.
The industry source said they did not want to be named because it could affect their business.
Meanwhile, Fletcher Building subsidiary Winstone Aggregates said it did have “limited scope” to increase supply to meet shortfall within the market. It extracts sand from the Kaipara Harbour.
“Sand is a key resource in concrete manufacturing and while the Parkiri consent process doesn’t affect us directly, we are conscious there could be potential impacts on the industry in the medium to long term.”
Meanwhile, the Save our Sands anti-mining group, which opposed the McCallum Bros’ consent during hearings, has vowed it will also fight the application in the Environment Court.
THE MANGAWHAI FOCUS, 13 May, 2022
Sand supply not dependent on continued mining of Pakiri and Mangawhai sea floor
Following the decision from Auckland Council to refuse an application to extract sand from the Pakiri-Mangawhai coast for the next 30 years, the scaremongering from the vested corporate interests has started. The CEO of the Aggregate and Quarry Association, Wayne Scott, has claimed it will create a crisis in Auckland's construction sector. Opponents of the sand mining however disagree.
"We can expect to see adjustments within the sector as the supply from McCallum Bros' Pakiri operation winds down," says Ken Rayward from the Save our Sand (SOS) Mangawhai Pakiri collective. "However, there are alternatives, and we cannot continue to mine sand from this vulnerable marine ecosystem."
McCallum Bros themselves have raised the prospect of Kaipara Harbour as an alternative. This area can provide a replenishing resource whereas the Pakiri sand deposit is finite. According to McCallum's own expert, the volume currently extracted from the Kaipara is 640,000 tonnes less than what is already consented for removal, considerably more than the 406,800 tonnes that will be lost from Pakiri.
"Scott suggests that bringing sand in via barges to the existing McCallum Brothers depot will generate 100 extra truck movements to the Auckland CBD a month, however this also seems excessive," says Rayward. "It is much more likely that trucking would take place directly to ready mix plants from the new source. This would release the valuable Hamer St site on the western reclamation to more intensive use and reduce the volume of trucks currently driving in and out of the CBD."
There may be increased transport costs, but this will depend on the source of replacement sand and where it is distributed. It will be much less than the cost of double handling it into downtown Auckland and out again.
"Sand is only a small part of the concrete supply chain, and we do not expect a significant change in the delivered cost and negligible impact on project costs," says Rayward.
While there may be minor differences in sand quality, the construction industry does not appear to discriminate among deposits as implied by Scott. In Waikato and South Auckland most sources are land-based marine or fluvial sands.
Underpinning the application by McCallum's is a strong expectation that recent growth in Auckland will be sustained at historical levels, however this is looking increasingly unlikely. A cyclical downturn in migration has been exacerbated by Covid-19 and looks like continuing for some time, ultimately lowering housing demand well below recent projections.
Beyond that, climate change is calling for a rethink of major infrastructure projects, including the contribution of concrete-intensive developments to carbon emissions.
"The council has taken a brave and necessary decision in the case of Pakiri sand mining," says Rayward.
"Reduced demand, changing economic conditions, and climate change are likely to fully justify it, and on top of this we need to preserve a highly sensitive and vulnerable coastline."
The MHRS recently organised a 4 day visit to Mangawhai by the powerful STUFF media group, to enable them to fully assess the full extent of the damage that will occur if the 3 new sand mining resource consents are granted.
Over 12 meetings /interviews were set up and completed ,ranging from KDC Mayor Jason Smith, Ocean scientists Robin and Andre La Bonte, the Fairy Tern trust, Endangered Species Association, Greenpeace, ex commercial fishermen, surf riders and ex McCallum employees, plus SOS , “Save Our Sands” groups.
All parties did an amazing job in representing the concerns of our community!
Please read this article in the Sunday Star Times, on line at STUFF – SAND WARS – Is the hourglass running empty?
22 February 2021
Nearly 150 people including Kaipara mayor, Dr Jason Smith, councillors and council staff, gathered at Mangawhai Heads surf beach on February 14 for the ‘Stand Against Sand Mining’ protest, forming a human S.O.S – ‘Save Our Sand’ – and waving placards to protest against ongoing sandmining along the Te Arai and Pakiri coastlines.
Organised by Friends of Pakiri, a support group of Mangawhai Harbour Restoration Society (MHRS) and long-time protesters of nearshore sandmining, the stand-in-the-sand hoped to draw attention to the potential destruction of shore beds, alleged loss of irreplaceable sand, and three looming sandmining consent hearings from Auckland companies Kaipara Limited (KL) and McCallum Brothers.
S.O.S means ‘Save our Sand’. Demonstrators take to the beach to raise awareness of the plight of local sand. PHOTO/ELEVATED MEDIA NZ
Kaipara mayor, Dr Jason Smith passionately expressed councils support: ‘We are happy to stand up and make a noise about things that matter to our communities!” PHOTO/GRANT CROWE
The Mangawhai Harbour Restoration Society, Friends of Pakiri Beach and the Stop Sand Mining group have a common cause; the end of offshore sand mining in the Bream Bay region.
Ken and the three community groups opposed are planning a publicity campaign. It will culminate on Sunday, February14 with a massed ‘stand up’ on Mangawhai’s beachfront.
“We’re calling anglers, bach owners, schools, surf clubs, surf lifesavers, boaties; everyone who has dipped a toe in the water,” says Ken. “We want
to gather a huge group to make a stand against this sand mining practice at noon on the 14th so that those making the decision will notice.”
BY KEN RAYWARD
The three current sand mining consent applications which pose threats to our coastal environment have had their hearings set for over the next few months, and are creating heightened awareness and increased concerns across Mangawhai, Te Arai and Pakiri communities.
Community awareness turning to community concern
25 January 2021