By Simon Collins, The New Zealand Herald.
Plans to take sand from near Pakiri Beach to replenish Auckland’s Kohimarama Beach are in limbo, with Ngati Wai dissident Greg McDonald seeking a High Court injunction to stop the project.
Mr McDonald also applied on Monday for a judicial review of a decision by Conservation Minister Chris Carter to allow sand-mining company Kaipara Ltd to take up to 2 million cu m of sand from a 500sq km area between Pakiri and Little Barrier Island during the next 20 years.
Kaipara is fighting both the injunction and the judicial review, and has hit back by asking the Legal Services Agency to review Mr McDonald’s legal aid on the basis that he has no valid legal grounds for the two actions.
Kaipara’s lawyer Kitt Littlejohn said the Pakiri sand-mining permit that Mr Carter granted on February 19 was the only one with enough scope to provide for the Auckland City Council’s planned $6 million Kohimarama Beach replenishment.
Waikato University Professor Terry Healy, a consultant to Kaipara, found that relocating the mining would end the beach erosion at Pakiri because the new source of sand would be at least 2km offshore and in water at least 25m deep.
The Ngati Wai Trust Board agreed in 2001 to drop its objection to mining in the new area in return for getting 50c for every cubic metre of sand extracted – a total of up to $1 million.
But Mr McDonald, a part-owner of land on the beach, has challenged the board’s right to make that deal without adequately consulting Ngati Wai people, including himself.
He argues that the offshore sand is a finite resource.
Much of it originated from the period when the Waikato River flowed into the Hauraki Gulf up to 20,000 years ago.
The seabed also contains the bones of people who died in fighting between his Ngati Wai ancestors on Little Barrier and the rival Ngati Whatua in the 1600s.
He said he had a legal right to seek a review of the sand-mining permit even though he needed taxpayer-funded legal aid.
“They [Kaipara] are just trying to use their money to get rid of me. I don’t believe it’s right that they should bully a Maori that hasn’t got a lot of money,” he said.
He has gathered 600 signatures from Pakiri residents, including boxer David Tua, who owns land at the beach, against the sand-mining proposal.
Mr McDonald’s lawyer, Olinda Woodroffe, has written to Mr Littlejohn offering to withdraw her application for an injunction if Kaipara agrees not to start taking sand from the new area until the High Court rules on the judicial review. Mr Littlejohn said he was awaiting instructions on this from Kaipara.
Justice Tony Randerson issued a minute to both parties last week asking for affidavits on the substantive case by May 8.