Ngapuhi working in Australia's mining industry are being told they won't be welcome if they come home to carry out controversial mineral exploration in Northland.
A member of Te Wakameninga o nga hapu Ngapuhi, Bryce Smith, of Whangaroa, said yesterday that rumours had been circulating around the north for months that Ngapuhi living and working in Australian mines were being encouraged to return to New Zealand by companies wanting them to carry out controversial mineral exploration in Northland later this month.
"Whangaroa people with whanau in the Australian mining industry have rung up and said they are coming home to work," he said.
"We will always welcome our people home. But if they return intending to carry out mineral exploration, we say you're not welcome home to do that.
"The tangata whenua of Australia have been overridden, divided and conquered in this way by governments working with mining corporations. We don't want you to be part of that here."
Te Whakaminenga (the gathering) was the name applied to Maori chiefs who assembled to sign He Whakaputanga, the 1835 New Zealand Declaration of Independence.
Finance Minister Bill English said last week that over recent decades the North had rejected many Government attempts at regional development.
"The same is happening again because the Government hasn't been listening," Mr Smith said.
"Across the North we have employment and environment aspirations, and none of them involve removing the resources underground and under the sea for the benefit of toxic mining or oil corporations. We will determine our own future."
Kaumatua from hapu around Whangaroa and Ngati Hau at Puhipuhi, north of Whangarei, had been clear that those areas were closed to toxic hard rock mining.
Last year's local body elections saw Wayne Brown dumped as Far North Mayor in a move Mr Smith claimed was linked with his business interests in mining.
"We must look after the environment that sustains us. This is more important than having a mine that rips gold out of the ground for a few years and leaves us with toxic waste," Mr Smith said.
"Anyone involved in mineral exploration, from shareholders in exploration companies to people hiring or operating drill rigs are taking the steps toward toxic mining.
"This is unacceptable to us."
Mr Smith wanted Ngapuhi in New Zealand to pass on the Te Whakaminenga anti-mining message to their whanau in Australia.