Friday, January 19, 2007

Save the Waves

Every now and again, a cause comes along which is not only important in itself but has extra significance because it symbolises something bigger. This is the case with the plans approved by the New Zealand government which threaten wildlife, Iwi tribal archaelogical remains and also one of the world's best surf spots known as Whangamata Bar on the North Island. The plans are to build a private marina over the Moanaanuanu Estuary. It will hold a select 205 berths which will expand over 4 hectares of coastal marine zone, 300 meters of breakwater structures will be constructed, and 167,000 cubic meters of dredging will occur for both the marina basin and the channel. The dredged sand will be dumped atop a natural salt-marsh covering 1.4 hectares. The estuary itself is home to many species of fish, shellfish, seabirds, Mangroves, Eel grass, salt-marshes, and the natural sand bar which will immediately be threatened, as will the nearby surf spot, once described by surf legend Gerry Lopez as "the gem of the Pacific". The plans also anticipate bulldozing archaelogical remains as there are many Iwi tribal areas in the Waikato Region.

Minister of Conservation Hon. Chris Carter rejected the Marina application, but the High Court of Appeal sent it back for re-review. In October 2006, Carter assigned the Marina application to Minister of Environment Hon. Benson Pope. After meeting with members of the New Zealand Parliament in November 2006, led by Nick Smith of the National Party, Pope approved of the Marina last month in December. Save the Waves Coalition is leading an international campaign to support the New Zealand Green Party, Maori Party, local iwi people and beachgoers in their opposition to the project. This is something to which we can all contribute. Bloggers can post this information and everyone can visit Save the Waves' website and fill out the form for voicing your opposition. It affects not only this particular region but also those others which are already under threat or may be so in the future. If we make a stand now we can show not only the New Zealand government but those around the world that issues affecting the natural world are no longer merely local issues and that they must take responsibility internationally for their actions. We are all in this together.

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