The rugged West Coast of Taranaki is iron sand country, black and beautiful stuff.

It is also very valuable to the steel manufacturing industry and mining company, Trans-Tasman Resources has been granted the right to mine 50 million tonnes of iron ore every year for 35 years, just off the coast of Patea.

But there's fierce opposition. Dr Athol Steward of Whanganui and his son Jono are walking the 400km from Raglan to Whanganui to protest against the approval to mine the seabed.

"Experimental seabed mining is not okay, and we need as many New Zealanders to know that to dig up our ocean is just not on," he said.


Dr Steward is more familiar with walking the corridors of the Whanganui Hospital, but for the last two weeks he has been walking a strip of the West Coast.

His mission is to raise awareness and $10,000 to help fund the Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) High Court appeal against the Environmental Protection Authority decision.

"If we don't stop this operation the door is then open, and it is a new frontier for whoever to make money out of nature, which is simply not on."

Just 14km from the proposed underwater mine site, a community group called Project Reef Life have discovered 88 species of marine life, illustrating the diversity in the area. It is also home to the endangered maui dolphin and blue whale.

"How the heck did this get under the radar?" Steward asked. "We need New Zealanders to be aware of it and then actually stand up and say, 'No this should not and can not go ahead'."

The coastal pilgrimage has been a family affair with Steward's three children helping along the way, and their mum driving the support rig.

"It is pretty nerve racking when you you're sitting around for hours and you know that they are in bush and ocean and the tides are coming in and they have got nowhere to go. I have had a few scary moments," Lari Steward said.

The two week journey ends Sunday when the family arrives home in Whanganui.


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