Brown defends Far North mine investment

Mayor Wayne Brown, who will ask today's Far North District Council meeting for a $3000 ratepayer contribution to the cost of attending a major mining conference in Canada next month, sees no conflict of interest in his investing in the industry in the Far North.

He is one of three directors, and a five per cent shareholder, in newly-formed company Tai Tokerau Minerals.

Mr Brown, who has added his interest in the company to the council's interest register, said there were no grounds for criticism.

Tai Tokerau Minerals, a small company, intended considering investing in mining but had not yet done so.

A resource consent would not be sought for at least five years, so there wasn't a technical means by which he could advantage himself.

"Governments, not councils, grant exploration and mining licences," he said.

"Investors ask if I am investing, and this is the smallest way that I can look them in the eye and say yes, and I can say that at least one potential customer will offer locals the opportunity to invest.

It is all about putting the Far North on the agenda of investors."

His request for ratepayer assistance to get to Canada has the support of a report prepared by advisory services manager Richard Palmer for today's meeting.

The report stated that if Northland was to take advantage of work to date it would need its own promotion, a role that seemed to fall naturally to Mr Brown as spokesman for Northland Minerals Group.

Mr Palmer saw Mr Brown's pecuniary interest in Tai Tokerau Minerals as a further advantage.

"Councillors will be mindful that the mayor has recently registered his interest as a shareholder in a new minerals company, and has indicated an intention to take an active part in the industry when the opportunity presents itself," he wrote.

"However it may be that this interest increases his incentive to encourage prospecting in Northland, and will therefore work in the council's favour."

The report added that the promotion of prospecting in Northland "in itself" had no implications for Maori.

(Mr Brown is proposing to meet one-third of the $9000 cost of attending the conference personally, with another third from Northland Inc).

- Northland Age

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