Thousands of West Coasters have marched against a raft of Government changes to whitebaiting, mining and farming rules.

Around three to four thousand people have gathered today in Greymouth,

Workers in Greymouth are rallying in an effort to protect the industries that support their towns, communities and way of life.

Newstalk ZB's Andy Thompson says a number of politicians made the trip to support West Coasters - but no government MPs showed up.

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He says National's Simon Bridges, Maureen Pugh, Nick Smith and New Zealand First's Mark Patterson are there.

He says people are standing stoically, in hi-vis jackets, and it's more of a formal rally rather than a protest.

Rally organiser Peter Haddock said they want to showcase what they do best on the West Coast to the rest of the country.

"A lot of legislation that is coming through is announcements from the Crown like no new mining.

"We just want to be consulted. We feel we aren't being listened to."

National leader Simon Bridges has used today's rally to appoint Maureen Pugh its new MP in charge of West Coast issues.

"The West Coast is full of hardworking and passionate New Zealanders. Many of their livelihoods depend on the land and the Government wants to rip that out from under them.

"The Government is attempting to ban whitebaiting, it's banning mining on all conservation land, blocking the Waitaha Hydro Scheme and putting tough restrictions on farming."

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Pugh says the Government's current policies are threatening coasters' jobs and way of life.
"We've had enough. It's the cumulative effect of a whole lot of Government policy coming down on us that are threatening jobs on the coast.

"We don't want government handouts. We want to do what we have done for a couple of hundred years.

"We've looked after our backyard. We've looked after our resources. Just let us keep producing and looking after our communities, because -- let's face it -- there is nowhere for us to go."

West Coast mayor Tania Gibson spoke to those gathered. Photo / Andy Thompson
West Coast mayor Tania Gibson spoke to those gathered. Photo / Andy Thompson

The organisers said industries would be even more marginal due to a new freshwater plan, proposed mining ban, the national policy statement on indigenous biodiversity, the risk of 35 per cent of private land on the West Coast being labelled as a significant natural area, and the rejection of the Waitaha River hydro electric scheme.

"It just keeps coming," the organisers said.

"West Coasters are gathering to celebrate how we live from the land and for the land, and highlight the threat posed to our way of life by well-intended but ill-considered Government policies."

- with Otago Daily Times