Five members of a protest against gold mining in the Karangahake Gorge area have been arrested and charged with trespassing.

Holly Dove, of the Protect Karangahake group, said the protesters had removed their tents and ended their demonstration under orders from the police.

One of the five, speaking in a video filmed in the back of a police car and broadcast by the group, said they were being taken to Paeroa.

Dove told the Herald the remaining protesters had switched tactics and were gathering people's signatures in the gorge area for an anti-mining petition.

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The Protect Karangahake action group will occupy part of a road in Karangahake Gorge today. Photo / File
The Protect Karangahake action group will occupy part of a road in Karangahake Gorge today. Photo / File

The group said earlier in a statement that 12 members opposed to gold mining on Department of Conservation land in the Karangahake area took over a mining site that DoC had closed to the public last year for the company New Talisman Gold Mines.

Former Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty was among the 12 who set up camp near the mouth of an old mine shaft in the vicinity of prospecting activities by the company.

"We are here today to make a stand for the conservation estate and to protect our wild and precious places," said protester and Karangahake resident Lucy Aitken-Read.

Dove said the company's prospecting area was near the Dubbo Track.

Protesters, including five who were arrested, were forced by police to leave a gold prospecting site in the Karangahake Gorge area.
Protesters, including five who were arrested, were forced by police to leave a gold prospecting site in the Karangahake Gorge area.

The group wants a halt ordered for mining activities in the Karangahake conservation estate.

The locally-based action group's protest was on a portion of public road closed by DoC to allow vehicles to access the company's site.

In a written statement sent to the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend before the arrests, group spokesman Duncan Shearer said: "We're here today to make a stand for the conservation estate."

The occupation was also to highlight a "huge contradiction" in the Government's policy that allows "destructive industrialisation of land" set aside for conservation purposes.

"If that means we're arrested then we hope it raises awareness of this issue," he said.

Shearer said he and other protesters wanted the Environment and Conservation ministers to honour their pre-election pledges that the land would be protected.

"We are also appealing to New Zealand First to see the threat we face as our community benefits from the tourism generated by this beautiful place, and all those local incomes that will be put at risk by a mining company that will do little for our local economy."

Dove said the issue at stake was "too important" to leave to backroom deals by politicians.

"This land has been set aside for everyone to enjoy, to protect important species, a place for quiet contemplation and amazing bush walks - stop the gold mining - it has no place here now," Dove said.

Additional reporting - Martin Johnston