The Department of Conservation has unreservedly apologised to the Taranaki Whanganui Conservation Board for failing to talk to it about a seabed mining application.
The application is by Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) to mine ironsand offshore from Patea. The department (DoC) failed to tell the board it had been working with the company on it, or that it was not going to make a submission because all its concerns had been adequately addressed.
At Thursday's conservation board meeting, members were variously appalled and offended by the lack of communication from DoC - except for one board member who said people were only upset because they wouldn't be getting a share of the mining wealth.
Others said DoC should have passed on information about the application, and should have let the board know that it would make no submission.
After hearing their concerns via speaker phone, DoC operations director for Waikato, Hauraki and Taranaki David Speirs answered them. He apologised for the relationship breach and said it would be remedied.
But he said DoC concerns about TTR's first application in 2013 had been addressed, and the department had nothing else to raise. He avoided any comment about the department's moral position.
He said it would not be making any submission, even a neutral one, even if the submission period was extended.
The board could have its own views, and could ask for legal help to express them.
The collective of iwi supporting Ngati Ruanui in its opposition to the application felt DoC's failure to communicate with them was disrespectful and insulting, board chairwoman Anne-Marie Broughton said.
As a result iwi would not be attending a planned whale stranding information session led by DoC this weekend.