Things got loud when local hapu and other community members took their protest against Evolution Mining's gold drilling at Puhipuhi to the front line.

About 200 protestors answered the Ngati Hau Kuia and Kaumatua Committee's call to send the Australian mining company a message there is strong opposition to the proposed mining.

Protest organiser Vaughan Potter, from Ngati Hau, described it as a peaceful, if fiery, march.

He said that with many elders and tamariki (children) on the march there was never any intention for the action to become aggressive.


Evolution has permits for exploratory drilling on land within a larger parcel comprising private farmland and Department of Conservation reserve, much of which is under Treaty of Waitangi settlement claim by Ngati Hau.

Sunday's action saw shouting protestors front up to the mining operation's locked gate and enter the drill site despite security staff trying to bar the way.

Members of various Ngati Hau committees, the wider Action Coordination Group, landowners, farmers, hapu from throughout Northland, local government candidates and Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis were among the protestors who marched to that point.

Not all of them went onto the drill site.

Asked about television news coverage showing what appeared to be pushing and shoving, Mr Potter said the only thing he saw of anyone taking a tumble was``a rangatira tripping over his big flag.''

``I don't believe we were heading for any trouble. We were fired up, we were going to go through that gate.''

He said yesterday that no-one had been charged with trespass.

``I believe the farmer on whose land it was on even opened gates further into the property. Is it trespass if someone lets you in?''

Mr Potter said Ngati Hau (a hapu of Ngapuhi) was reminding the Government and mining interests that, as backed up by the Waitangi Tribunal, Ngapuhi never ceded sovereignty when it signed the Treaty.

``We still have our tino rangatiratanga, and on the basis of that authority we've issued a ban on all drilling and mining. Puhipuhi mountain, and any minerals that are part of it, are ours to protect. We'll not stand by and let it be damaged.''

The Action Coordination Group, comprising of Ngāti Hau Kuia Kaumatua, the Ngāti Hau Anti-Mining Group, the Ngāti Hau Resource Management Unit, and MineWatch Northland, has advised local people not to meet with Evolution Mining.
The group said the company would say that engagement met its community consultation requirements.

Evolution, on the other hand, has in the past two years expressed frustration it has been unable to put its own side of the case to locals.

The company denies claims by its opposition that the mining would use toxic methods capable of causing irrevocable downstream environmental harm.

"Evolution respects the right of people to protest peacefully in a lawful manner that is safe to themselves and the community,'' a company spokesperson said following Sunday's action.

``Evolution is committed to leading environmental practices and if we are unable to identify a way to conduct our exploration activities safely and without harm to the environment, we will not proceed."

By edition time yesterday Whangarei Police had not confirmed whether there were any arrests or other concerns related to the protest.