A plan to extract valuable waxes and resins from a peat wetland north of Kaitaia that an iwi hopes will help provide its economic future has raised the ire of the Government, which may appeal the consent granted for the scheme.
And Heritage NZ also has concerns about the consent granted to Auckland-based Resin & Wax Holdings, which has gained the right to extract kauri resin and wax from about 10 per cent of the Far North's 4000ha Kaimaumau wetland.
Resin & Wax has held a mining licence for peat in the Kaimaumau area, north of Kaitaia, since 1991, but only in recent years has machinery been invented to extract valuable waxes and resins from the peat by using solvents.
The Northland Regional Council has granted the company consent for commercial kauri resin and wax extraction. The company now has the various consents needed for the staged extraction of resin and wax from the peat, now owned by Ngai Takoto.
But Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage is not happy and is seeking legal advice on what her next step could be, including possibly appealing the consent.
''The peat mining area is adjacent to conservation land – Kaimaumau wetland. The Kaimaumau-Motutangi wetland complex is nationally significant because of its large size and the mosaic of wetland and dune ridges. The site supports rare and threatened plants, reptiles and birds,'' Sage said.
''Ongoing wetland loss is a significant concern to me given that only 10 per cent of New Zealand's wetlands remain. Peat mining risks significant adverse effects on conservation values and wetland functioning in and beyond the application area. These include the fragmentation or loss of habitats for threatened species such as some rare orchids.''
She understood the Department of Conservation had provided information to NRC this year about the wetlands.
''It is disappointing that the council chose not to notify the application to allow public submissions or consider DoC as neighbouring landholder as an affected party,'' Sage said.
''I have been advised that DoC is currently reviewing the consent conditions to determine if they are adequate to manage the effects of the activity. I am seeking legal advice about what the next steps could be.''
Te Runanga o Ngai Takoto chief executive Rangitane Marsden said the venture was a big win for the iwi that would help secure its economic and environmental future, by providing jobs and opportunities for its people.
The iwi bought the farm as part of its post Treaty of Waitangi settlement process.
"We knew that the farm required a lot of work to bring it back into any kind of state that it could be used to provide any economic benefit. But the environment is a big part of our kaupapa and that had to be a primary focus," Marsden said.
Heritage NZ spokesman Bill Edwards said the body had contacted NRC to see if an archaeological assessment had been done for the consents process.