An epic struggle between powerful forces continues in the Wellington High Court this morning - and the result matters to Whanganui and South Taranaki people.

In August, the Environmental Protection Authority narrowly gave consent for Trans-Tasman Resources to mine ironsand from the seabed in the South Taranaki Bight.

The matter was the subject of weeks of hearings before the decision-making committee made its split decision to grant consent — using the chairman's casting vote.

Hawera-based iwi Ngāti Ruanui has vowed to oppose the mining and take the matter to a higher court if necessary, spokeswoman Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said.


Ngāti Ruanui joins a varied group to appeal the consent. The others are the Ngā Rauru iwi, the Taranaki/Whanganui Conservation Board, Te Ohu Kai Moana, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining and Greenpeace, Forest and Bird and a combined group of fishing interests.

The appeal takes place in the Wellington High Court and is set down for April 16-19.

Ngāti Ruanui kaiarataki Debbie Ngarewa-Packer says her tribe will always oppose seabed mining. Photo/ file
Ngāti Ruanui kaiarataki Debbie Ngarewa-Packer says her tribe will always oppose seabed mining. Photo/ file

Ngāti Ruanui has a detailed case to appeal the consent granted for mining, Mrs Ngarewa-Packer said.

"We are confident there are a number of unanswered questions about this decision that the court will need to deal with."

The EPA didn't have enough environmental information to make a decision on, she said, and the conditions imposed on TTR were illegal for that type of mining.

Ngāti Ruanui hopes the new Government will impose a moratorium on seabed mining, just as it has decided against further offshore oil and gas exploration.

If its appeal is not successful, it is willing to take the matter to the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court and the United Nations.

The decision-making process had been long and draining, and her iwi was both anxious and hopeful, Ngā Rauru manager Anne-Marie Broughton.


She said the split decision to undertake such an untested activity over a 35-year term, raised real concerns.

Forest and Bird notes the presence of 30 species of marine mammal in the area to be mined, including blue whales and Maui dolphins. It said the EPA had failed to protect the environment.

It will be making its main submission on Tuesday, chief executive Kevin Hague said.

Trans-Tasman Resources was approached for comment on the appeal, but did not respond. Its website says it expects to begin exporting ironsand in 2020.