We will stop your mine

26 Aug

A speech made by Pat O’Dea during the powhiri held at Mangatangi Marae at the opening of resource consent hearings for the Mangatangi Mine.

Tena kotou, tena kotou. Tena kotou katoa. E te whare e tu nei, tena koe!

I apologise to iwi and guests. But I have just exhausted my knowledge of te reo.

But in my greeting I have mentioned a special greeting to this whare here. And I will mention it throughout my korero.

It is rarely in human events that all the threads of history come together in one issue.

We are all gathered here on the Marae today to address the Commissioners from the Waikato Regional Council about Fonterra’s plans to dig an open cast coal mine on the stolen land not far from this whare.

150 years ago this year, armed and belligerent colonial troops crossed the Mangatawhiri stream. King Tawhaio had declared that for them to do so, would be a declaration of war.

Ngati Tamaoho were not at war. Along with Ngati Whatua, Ngati Tamaoho were a premier tribe of the Auckland isthmus, controlling lands on both sides of the Mangatawhiri border. Ngati Tamaoho despite not being at war with the crown and never raising a hand against them, were slaughtered by the colonial troops. 200 were murdered and most of their lands were confiscated. Their community was ransacked and their whare burnt.

Where Fonterra’s new coal mine is to be excavated, is on this stolen land. I hear that there are historic middens on this stolen land that prove that it was inhabited by Ngati Tamaoho.

70 years ago, Princess Te Puea came to this land and seeing the condition of the people demanded that a whare be built and so founded this Marae.

50 years ago without consultation or compensation the Mangatangi river which ran here beside the Marae was taken from the people. This was a great river full of fish which nourished the people and where current Marae Chairman Warahi Paki learnt to swim – going on to be a regional swimming champion making records that were broken only recently.

The river was stolen from Ngati Tamaoho to create the Mangatangi reservoir, the biggest in the country, to supply drinking water to the city of Auckland. This morning when I was getting ready for this hui I had a hot shower which I enjoyed very much. Some of that water was stolen water from Ngati Tamaoho.

Before the dam was built the Marae got its water from the river. Now the Marae gets its water from the roof of this whare. If every building in Auckland also gathered water from the roofs of their houses, we could give the people of Mangatangi their river back.

But instead of that, Fonterra plans to dig a huge opencast coal mine just upwind of this mine that will contaminate the water that falls on the roof of this whare making it undrinkable and so steal the people’s water again.

I have read all of Fonterra’s documents. Nowhere do they say that this mine will be good for the community. They do talk about, “minimising the harm”. In their arrogance they don’t even promise the local community any jobs. Usually when a big company plans to build a big polluting factory or dig a dirty mine, (there are no other kinds) they promise that it will create jobs for the community. (This mine will actually destroy jobs. 132 coal miners will lose their jobs in Huntly)

During these hearings we will hear Fonterra say:  “You’ve always got to balance environmental damage against economic benefits.”
They will say this many times during the hearing, in many different ways.

But this claim has been busted by a recent report from European scholars, published last month in the prestigious journal Nature.

This report, titled Vast costs of Arctic change, says the release of methane from the East Siberian sea off Northern Russia alone, could in dollar terms cost US$60 trillion. That staggering figure almost equals annual world GDP of around US$70 trillion.

The cost of total Arctic change will be much higher.

In short, the dollar costs of just one climate change event, in just one part of the Arctic region will almost equal the market value of world’s entire human productive output.

But the real cost of climate change will not be measured in money, but in human misery and death.

In these hearings, we will be prevented by law from raising objections to this mine on grounds of climate change. (Maori will be familiar with legal hearings where the table is tilted against them.) The reason that climate change is not allowed to be raised at these hearings. Is because if climate change were allowed to be raised. No new coal mine would be allowed to go ahead. Ever! Anywhere! The evidence is so compelling.

The concept is simple, we all understand it. Coal is putting a pane of glass over the world.

To the Commissioners and representatives of Fonterra gathered here. I would like to say to you before the paepae, that whatever the outcome of these hearings and the decisions you make, you will not get your coal mine.

We are the people who stopped nuclear ships. We are the people who stopped racist sporting tours. We are the people who stopped the sub-division of Bastion Point.

To the Commissioners especially. I would like to say, that if you approve the consents for this coal mine your names will be all over this economic, environmental and political disaster.

If there is one message I would like you to hear, it is this: We will stop your mine. It will never go ahead. Believe it in your hearts.

Pat O’Dea

Mana Spokesperson for Climate Change and member of Auckland Coal Action

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One Response to “We will stop your mine”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Mangatangi Mine hearings: week one | auckland coal action - 1 September 2013

    […] that a discussion of climate change would not be permitted during the hearings, Pat O’Dea made sure to cover this topic in a rousing speech before the […]

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