A group of about 200 people were at Parliament on Monday to ask for a moratorium on seabed mining.

The group included members of Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) and three busloads from South Taranaki's Ngāti Ruanui iwi. The petition had more than 6000 signatures, KASM chairman Phil McCabe said, and the mining off the Patea coast could affect Maui dolphins and blue whales.

There were moratoria on seabed mining off the coasts of Australia's Northern Territory and Namibia, he said, because those governments were not confident environmental damage could be avoided.

The groups fear the second application by Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) to mine iron sand from the South Taranaki seabed will be approved by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).


They went into Parliament with karanga, karakia and waiata and got a good reception from Maori and Green Party MPs, Ngati Ruanui CEO Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said. There was also music and lots of media present.

"It was a really great afternoon."

People have until October 14 to make submissions on the TTR application, but Mrs Ngarewa-Packer said large parts of the application information have been blacked out, which made the process more difficult.

She had dealt with lots of mining and prospecting applications, and had never seen so much redaction.

The company is required to provide a cultural impact assessment as part of the application. It got that from a former Ngai Tahu CEO, rather than from her own iwi which would be directly affected.

A TTR spokeswoman said the company had attempted to engage the iwi, to no avail. It had even paid the costs of Ngāti Ruanui's appeal on the first application as a gesture of goodwill.

Mrs Ngarewa-Packer said TTR had been difficult to deal with. She feared the application would be approved.

She had the impression TTR shareholders were putting pressure on, and that the company was lobbying Government.

The EPA set no conditions when it declined TTR's last application. This time all the four chosen for the Decision Making Committee have Resource Management Act experience, and would be able to set conditions.

The only difference she can see with the latest application is that conditions have been set to mitigate possible environmental damage.

Comment from TTR was sought, but not available by press time.