Category Archives: Waikato

Of Monkeys, Mr Burns, Mokau South and the RMA

As The Simpsons taught us, if you give enough monkeys enough typewriters and enough time, they will eventually produce Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities”, or a pretty close approximation:

I can now add a rider: even if the cruel Mr Burns introduced zero-hours contracts, removed half the typewriters and banned bananas from the workplace, the monkeys would still produce work of better quality than Mokau South Resources’ application to strip-mine the Mokau River catchment for coal.

It beggars belief that, as the world’s hottest year ends and another hot year begins, anyone would even consider opening a new coal mine. It beggars still more belief that an application that fails to meet so many of the requirements of the Resource Management Act would be allowed to get to the point where it will be seriously considered.

But what’s even more incredible is that the Resource Management Act explicitly prevents us challenging fossil fuel projects on the basis of their contribution to climate change – and in case you think we’re having a go at National yet again, that explicit exclusion of climate change from the RMA was a decision by the last Labour Government. Thankfully, there are now moves afoot to remedy this, not least by the RMA’s author.

Even without the use of this key argument, however, there are so many things wrong with Mokau South’s application and their plans that the many people who responded to our call for submissions had plenty of arguments to choose from: such as the complete inadequacy of the applicant’s ecological assessment, their failure to carry the required iwi consultation, and their cavalier attitude to the effects mine effluent can have in a major water catchment.

In its story on Mokau South, Radio New Zealand chose to portray the Sampson brothers, who are behind this application, as dear old duffers who just wanted their lifetime dream of owning their own coal mine to be granted. But that’s not a thing anyone should want on their bucket list. There is nothing cute, funny or touching about people who want to rip apart an area of regenerating native bush and put a major water catchment at risk just so they can have a crack at making climate change even more disastrous.

So thanks to everyone who submitted by the closing date of 2 February. When we know the story with the hearing on this application, we’ll keep you posted. Although the Mokau South resource consent application reads like it was typed by a roomful of monkeys, the threat it poses is serious, and with our friends in groups such as Waikato Climate Action and Climate Justice Taranaki, we’ll be putting in serious work to stop it.

Don’t Take Our Word For How Bad Mokau South Is – Take Waikato Regional Council’s Word. And Submit By Next Tuesday.

Submissions on Mokau South’ Resources’ proposal to strip-mine the Panirau Plateau in the Mokau River Catchment for coal close next Tuesday, 2 February. We have had a good response to our call for submissions against the project, but we’d love to see even more.

  • Already know you want to help? Find out how in our Mokau South submission guide (Word | PDF)

Some people have said they don’t have time to make a long submission – and that’s fair enough, as we know how busy people are! Your submission doesn’t have to be long, but we think its is important to meet the formal requirements laid out in the submission guide. And here’s why.

Climate Change, the RMA, and Grounds for Submissions

The applicant, Mokau South Resources, was unhappy at the idea that their resource consent application might be publicly notified. They asked why this was being done, and Waikato Regional Council’s scanned response is very revealing of both the scale of the project and the applicants’ attitude:



So there we have it: the project is massive, in an environmentally sensitive area, in a river catchment with high annual rainfall, and the applicants want to avoid a fight on climate change grounds!

Unfortunately, on this last point, the Resource Management Act as it is currently worded is with the applicant: it explicitly excludes consideration of the effects of a project on climate change. A movement is underway to put climate change back in the RMA, but in the meantime, a submission that only mentions climate change can be “struck out for disclosing no relevant case”. That’s appalling, but it’s the law.

(However, some arguments related to climate change can still be made – our submission guide explains how to do that.)

So that’s why we encourage submitters to put in a submission that can’t be struck out, because it refers to the many, many other environmental and economic grounds on which the project is a bad idea. Our submission guide (Word | PDF) provides you with plenty of talking points. Pick one or pick just a few, and make your submission as brief as you like: but please do submit. And once you’ve included grounds that ensure your submission can’t be struck out, we encourage you to state clearly which this project is a terrible idea on climate change grounds.

Mordor on the Mokau

Finally, this Radio New Zealand story provides more information about the applicants and their proposal. It makes them sound like a couple of dear old duffers pursuing their lifelong dream. It’s just a pity that their lifelong dream involves ruining an important natural environment and trashing the world’s climate.


The Coal Industry Wants To Strip Mine The Mokau. Help Us Stop Them.

  • Already know you want to help? Find out how in our Mokau South submission guide (Word | PDF)

As NASA has confirmed, 2015 was the hottest year on record. So the idea of starting any new coal mine represents a dangerous disconnection with reality. But sometimes, we come across a proposal that has that whole extra level of insanity.


Many years ago, before the Resource Management Act came into force, Mokau South Resources was granted a mining licence for an area of regenerating native bush on the Panirau Plateau near the Panirau Stream, a tributary of the Mokau River on the North Taranaki Coast. Their current permit expires in 2016.

So now, despite the state of the coal market and the imperative need not to increase greenhouse gas emissions, Mokau South Resources has applied to Waikato Regional Council for resource consent to strip mine a large area near the Panirau Stream. That’s a terrible idea on climate change grounds. It’s also a terrible idea for the natural environment in North Taranaki and the Waikato.

Coal companies around the world are crashing. China’s coal use has declined and the Chinese Government has banned new coal mines. And the Paris Agreement has signalled the end of the fossil fuel era. But here in New Zealand, while the Government tips them a nod and a wink, the coal industry keeps trying to dig up more of the stuff. They must be stopped.

How To Submit

Submissions on this project close on Tuesday 2 February – so you don’t have long. Working with Waikato Climate Action, we’ve prepared a submission guide (Word | PDF) with many different reasons for objecting to this proposal, and we’d like as many people as possible to submit. You’ll find all the details of how to submit in the guide. You can also read the official Waikato Regional Council information on this application.

Let’s send Waikato Regional Council and the coal industry an unambiguous message: no more new coal mines, no more increases in greenhouse gas emissions, and no more destruction of our natural habitat for the sake of private profit.

  • Get started on your Mokau South submission now with our downloadable submission guide (Word | PDF)