Mangawhai Harbour Restoration Society committee member, Ken Hayward (left) and society chair, Doug Lloyd

Sand mining ‘threatens Mangawhai’

by Paul Campbell

Extensive continued sand mining off Mangawhai could destroy the Sandspit Wildlife Refuge and decimate the harbour and estuary into open sea, according to marine engineers consulted by the Mangawhai Harbour Restoration Society.

A proposal to substantially extend the sand take between Pakiri and Mangawhai for the Auckland construction industry poses a major threat of ‘reverse erosion,’ the society says.

“The current licence to take an annual 76,000 cubic metres of sand expires next year,” said society spokesman, Ken Rayward.

The sand mining permit allows operations to the 10-metre mark off the coast by Auckland based-McCallum Brothers Ltd.

“However, from May next year the company has applied to take 1.9 million cubic metres,” Mr Rayward said. “This is the equivalent of removing the total sand spit sand volume — including the dune and more!”

It was understood that the application would be limited to the 25-metre mark off the coast.

“However, the continuance planned includes mining back to the 10-metre mark. Removing this amount directly threatens reverse erosion of the coast with the very real chance of eventually seeing the Sandspit and dune slide back into the sea; no estuary, no boat access, no mooring — just open sea.”

He said the society had consulted marine engineers to make its case, and planned to fight the extension to the Environment Court.

Mr Rayward added that the company “has not been upfront with the community. There is a high level of commercial input that earns so much money. There is growing community attention of what’s planned, and that this continuance should not be allowed to just slip through. Mangawhai without a harbour will be nothing. The MHRS will be closely monitoring all new mining developments and continue to act positively in protecting the Mangawhai region.”

McCallum Brothers was granted permits from the Environment Court in 2006 to extract up to 76,000 cubic metres of sand every year for 14 years after the initial application was denied by Auckland Regional Council, due in part to strong opposition from local groups over erosion on the coastline.

The court ruled in favour of further mining. The company has said it’s seeking advice on environmental effects from expert consultants to support its application, and that it “would not be surprised” if the matter goes before the Environment Court again.

The public will have a chance to give feedback once the renewal for consent is lodged in November.

The incorporated society Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) says Pakiri and Mangawhai have been compromised by nearly 80 years of nearshore suction dredging, in waters from 5–20 metres deep.

“This has had multiple visible impacts, including the loss of dunes and surrounding vegetation. The quality of the surf has been adversely affected, and the fishery disturbed.”