South Taranaki iwi Nga Rauru feels let down by the Department of Conservation's decision not to submit on a seabed mining application and is withdrawing from interacting with it.
"We do not consider it appropriate for the department to be absent from discussion around a new activity of this scale," tumu whakarae Pahunga Marty Davis said.
Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) is asking the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for marine consents to mine ironsand 22km to 36km offshore from Patea.
The department (DoC) decided not to submit on the application, saying it had reviewed the application and its amendments were accepted by the company. No further conservation gains would be made by submitting, its spokesman said.
Mr Davis said DoC had a broad commitment to work with iwi and a specific statutory obligation to work with his tribe under its Treaty settlement legislation.
Relationships with DoC staff locally had been strengthening. "It seems they have been undermined by national staff who don't understand the importance of local relationships and Treaty commitments."
Nga Rauru's governance group has asked members of the iwi to withdraw from all interactions with DoC, "until we are able to agree a respectful and collaborative way of working with both the regional and the national offices".
DoC had not shared any of the information it gained through working with TTR. And it was hard to understand why the department wasn't taking a precautionary position on the proposed mining.
"They are in conflict with the views of iwi, the Taranaki Whanganui Conservation Board and the community," Mr Davis said.
The extended submission deadline gave DoC a chance to change its mind. Submitting would ensure its views were heard by the Environmental Protection Authority as well as by TTR, he said.
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