Ngapuhui miners currently working in Australia have been told they won’t be welcome home if they return to work in exploration in New Zealand’s Northland area.
It comes as rumours circulate around the region that Ngapuhi currently working in the Australian mining industry have been encouraged to return to New Zealand by companies looking to operate in the Northland region, according to The New Zealand Herald.
“Whangaroa people with whanau (family) in the Australian mining industry have rung up and said they are coming home to work,” Bryce Smith, a member of the Te Wakameninga o nga hapu Nghapuhi, explained.
“We will always welcome our people home, but if they return intending to carry out mineral exploration we say you’re not welcome home to do that.
“The tangata whenua (Aborigines) of Australia have been overridden, divided and conquered in this way by governments working with mining corporations” Smith said.
“We don’t want [our people] to be part of that here.”
Northland, found at the very tip of the North Island, is understood to have decent levels of gold, coal, and oil and gas reserves.
However there is a major concern over the levels of mercury found in the region, which is rich in mercury bearing stones, and was even mined in the area until 1945.
There has been a concerted push by the government to aid exploration in the region, in 2012 funding an aerial magnetic survey of more than 13 000 square kilometres of the region to better aid in delineating minerals in the area.
Mid last year three companies, New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals, Waimatenui Exploration, and De Grey Mining were awarded exploration permits for the region.
Following the granting of these exploration permits protests erupted in the area.
Smith went on to state that “anyone involved in mineral exploration, from shareholders in exploration companies to people hiring or operating drill rigs are taking steps towards toxic mining”.
“That is unacceptable to us.”