Martin Smith's been coming to the Coromandel since he was 14 years old.

"My heart was always here in Kuaotunu so I finally moved here, now I have to battle for it to remain as I have always liked it," the Kuaotunu Anti Mining Action Group member says.

His battle is against the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE), and Waihi Gold Company a.k.a Oceana Gold - two of five groups appealing the Thames Coromandel District Council's (TCDC) proposed District Plan in the Environment Court.

"What's happening at the moment is that the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, which is basically the government, has teamed up with Oceana Gold and they are currently in the process of taking our District Council, the TCDC to court with the idea of loosening the mining restrictions on the peninsula," Kuaotunu Anti Mining Action Group Member, Brian Walsh says.


Three other groups - Coromandel Watchdog, Forest and Bird and NZ Blackjack Farms - are appealing the plan on the basis that it doesn't promote the sustainable management of the natural and physical resources in the Coromandel District, which is inconsistent with parts of the Resource Management Act.

But MBIE say they're not trying to make mining easier and they want the Thames Coromandel District Council to consider mining applications on a case by case basis to "ensure maximum benefit from Crown-owned resources for New Zealand."

"The Thames Coromandel District is highly prospective for gold and MBIE has been monitoring potential district plan changes in the area for a number of years. Our aim with the Environment Court appeal is to seek fair and reasonable treatment in the regulation of minerals, as we would for petroleum and other energy-related activities such as wind, hydroelectricity and transmission," Tim Townsend, Acting Manager Sector Development Policy says.

The Thames District Council says their Proposed District Plan isn't planning an outright ban but has identified the areas of national importance that are located within the district and all activities will be treated on an equal basis - according to the potential for adverse effects on the environment, and this is reflected in the 'activity status' proposed in the different zones and overlays of the Thames-Coromandel District Plan.

If MBIE and Oceana Gold's appeals are successful it's likely to create plenty of extra paperwork and costs for the District Council.

Anti-mining groups claim it would make mining easier in the Coromandel and that it's wrong that taxpayer's money is being used.

"We look at the 'pay offs' if you like from mining and we think that they're really low, employment is quite low, tax that the government can earn is quite low and the risks of what can go wrong with it are really high," Coromandel Watchdog spokesperson Augusta Macassey-Picard says.

"We want people to know that everything is under threat right now. The entire peninsula, all the rural land which makes up 57% of the district land, they want to open that up to mining that could mean tailings dams literally the size of Whitianga. So it's a huge huge problem," Mr Walsh says.

150 years after Gold was first discovered in Coromandel, the gold rush dream is still alive. Only now there's a lot more opposition to it.


"When you go and look at Waihi and imagine some of the areas in Kuaotunu or anywhere in the Coromandel, you just say no, it's not going to happen," Mr Smith says.

Mde with funding from