Posted by Gold FM on 26/03/2012
Protesters met at the Waihi Legacy Centre on Morseby Avenue today to let Newmont Waihi Gold know that they think "the Coromandel is too precious to mine".
Green MP Catherine Delahunty, former Greens leader and Kauaeranga Valley resident Jeanette Fitsimons and Waihi's Collette Spalding were among the 100 or so representatives from communities from Matarangi to Opoutere who donned their no mining t-shirts, hoisted their banners and chanted anti-mining messages on the slope below the mine truck display beside the Legacy Centre.
Catherine Delahunty, Jeanette Fitsimons, Coromandel Watchdog Coordinator Renee Annan and Collette Spalding from DRAT addressed the protestors, encouraging them to continue with their commitment to oppose any expansion of mining in the Coromandel region.
Ms Annan said "our communities are facing a repeat of the 1980s with the whole peninsula, including Schedule 4 land, under threat once again."
"Exploration is a huge threat and the process post exploration becomes very expensive to get our voices heard, so it is important to stop them now," said Ms Annan. "Waihi residents adjacent to the Martha pit or living above the underground and proposed underground mines are also facing further expansion by Newmont, meaning more vibration, noise, dust and loss of property values. We hope our protest offers some solidarity to the people living with the effects of mining every day."
Waihi Maori Warden Bobbi Snow spoke to the gathering about the connection and loss local maori feel because the Martha pit mine was once their sacred mountain or 'maunga tapu', Pukewa.
Another maori woman from Waihi wore a t-shirt with the local maori pepeha that refers to their connection, and came forward for Mrs Snow to explain it's significance.
Catherine Delahunty invited the gathering to walk with her along Moresby Avenue to Newmont's Waihi offices. The protesters marched along the road to the offices chanting as they went. Children playing in the school grounds at Waihi Central School which is directly opposite the Newmont offices rushed to the fence to see what the commotion was about, and some of them called out slogans telling the protestors 'where to go'.
Newmont Waihi Gold responded to the protest by saying they are disappointed that Catherine Delahunty and the Green Party are seeking to score political points by bringing in people from outside Waihi for a protest in an attempt to hijack the positive relationship between the community and the company.
Company spokesperson Sefton Darby said "after hundreds of meetings with individual residents and dozens of meetings with a huge variety of community groups, we are disappointed that Ms Delahunty and the Green Party are trying to hijack this positive process by bussing in people from outside Waihi to wave placards. It's a strategy based on confrontation and slogans instead of dialogue". He added "in these tough economic times we find it astonishing that the Green Party is advocating making 700 - 800 people unemployed in return for what appears to be imaginary green jobs".
When asked did he know the protest was going to happen Mr Darby said they became aware of it this morning and there was hardly anyone from Waihi there.
Catherine Delahunty encourages protestors on Morseby Avenue, Waihi