Hundreds of people marched up Auckland's Queen St today in protest of a plan to drop 250,000 cubic metres of waste dredging material off Great Barrier Island each year.
The protesters oppose a decision by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to allow dredging sediment from the widening of shipping lanes in Auckland's Waitemata Harbour to be dumped off Great Barrier Island.
Coastal Resources Limited (CRL) has been awarded a 35-year consent to drop the 250,000 cubic metres of dredging sediment every year off the coast of the Hauraki Gulf island.
The dredging of Waitemata Harbour is designed to accommodate more cruise and container ships and establish the Viaduct Village for the 2021 America's Cup.
The first batch of CRL sediment to be dumped would be 70,000 cubic metres extracted for the America's Cup village.
The group of more than 200 protesters carried placards up Queen St today, stopping in Aotea Square.
Great Barrier Island resident and descendant of the local iwi, Kelly Klink, said there was an economic injustice to the consent, as well as an environmental one.
"All of that income will come into Auckland and we will end up getting all of their rubbish out in our waters. It's our home," Klink said.
The new CRL dredging consent is a fivefold increase of the existing 50,000 cubic metre permit the company holds.
The protesters dismissed claims by CRL and the EPA that the dumping of waste would have a negligible impact on the marine environment.
'They say it won't but there's big current out there, it's going to drift up and down the coast," one Tryphena resident said.
The protesters claim there are multiple alternatives to the dumping of dredge sediment off the coast, including sending it to landfill or using it to reclaim land that has fallen away due to erosion.
The Society for the Protection of Aotea Community and Ecology and local iwi Ngātiwai are appealing the decision by the EPA on grounds the drop will affect their protected rights to the area.
"It's going to be devastating on our customary rights to gather kai moana, because the ecosystems are going to be destroyed. Our mokopuna will not be able to carry on their customary rights," Klink said.
The High Court at Wellington is due to hear the group's appeal on July 22.