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Sand mining a ‘slap in the face to Mother Earth’




10 July, 2022 (Online)


thumbnail 14 MF-SOStoday3-484They came by car, bus and on foot, hundreds of locals and visitors alike spelling out a loud clear message to Auckland extraction company, McCallum Brothers, that their sand mining practice along the Mangawhai/Pakiri coastline is not welcome.


Approximately 300 protestors, including a couple of New Zealand’s larger endangered fairy terns, made a stand-in-the-sand along Mangawhai Heads surf beach on July 10, a passionate public outcry in the form of a human ‘SOS’ (Save Our Sands) against further excavation of the coastline seabed.

Inspiring, heartfelt speeches were given, including steadfast supporter and Kaipara mayor Dr Jason Smith, Greenpeace’s Elliot Prior, media personality and Pakiri lover Jaquie Brown, SOS organiser Ken Rayward, and event MC HeadsFM radioman and local surfer Mark Perry, who stated ‘you don’t treat your mother with disrespect, and by taking sand that is like a slap in the face to mother earth’.

Organised by ‘SOS - Save Our Sands’, a collaborative watchdog organisation of local environmental groups (including Mangawhai Harbour Restoration Society, NZ Endangered Species Society, Whanau O Pakiri, Friends of Pakiri Beach and Greenpeace Aotearoa) SOS have been working jointly to halt McCallum Bros’ three resource consents for near, mid and far-shore sandmining and in May, Auckland Council took independent hearing commissioners’ recommendations and refused the far-shore application.

Mayor Smith, along with dog Louie ‘representing the animal kingdom’, says Kaipara District Council has stood unaniminously in opposition to the sandmining.

“We are absolutely aware what is at stake, Mangawhai has paid a huge price for trying to keep the harbour clean with the old wastewater system, and it is now the purest and cleanest in all of Northland,” he said.

“With the sandmining proposed, all of that work is potentially going to be undone and the future is at risk… if the sand bank is lowered, coupled with climate change and rising sea levels, that ocean could come into Mangawhai, which is massively problematic.

“Kaipara District is only two kilometres long on this coastline… we have no control over Auckland’s side… however we are leaning in to make a noise on the resource consent process.”

In acknowledging the efforts of all the grass roots groups involved, Greenpeace’s Elliot Prior says it was ‘amazing to see so many hard-core activists in one place’.

“Sand from this beach is being used for all sorts of construction in Auckland and coming here today I can see the erosion.

“This campaign has been really succesful so far for bringing people together, in getting media attention, and especially making Auckland Council and their staff accountable for

the decisions they make, they’ve realised they can’t just give out consents for sand mining and not monitor the effects.”

Being able to spend time on Pakiri beach thanks to local friends ‘is a soul-enriching experience’, Jaquie Brown says.

“We are the ocean’s voice, sand mining is sucking the life from our beaches, it’s a sneaky, secret activity about the a big corporation taking from the little guy,” she says. “But today is people-power in action, creating a moment in history signaling we care which generations will thank us for… and I’m grateful to be a part of it… don’t let us stick our head in the sand, if we do, once we pull our heads out again, there’ll be no more sand left.”

All speakers urged the community to keep up the fight by keeping up the conversations, spreading awareness and questioning where their concrete actually comes from.

Ken Rayward was applauded for his efforts in highlighing the issue to the community and he compared the sand mining movement to another community initiative over three decades ago, the legendary Big Dig.

“You’ve all heard of how 31 years ago the community took their harbour into their own hands…the people back then took action for our generation,” he says. “What we’re doing now is for our kids and grandkids… thank you very much everyone for coming on down and making a stand in, and for, our sand.”

McCallum Bros replied to a request from the Focus for comment on their views of the SOS - Save Our Sands protest, and in a statement say:

‘At the end of the month independent commissioners on behalf of Auckland Council will review our resource consent applications for in-shore and mid-shore sand extraction at Pakiri. Due to this we are not in a position to comment on findings or outcomes that will be presented as evidence by the various parties. We will be in a better position to comment once the hearing is complete and the Commissioners have released their decision.

For now, McCallum Bros has commissioned independent research from some of New Zealand’s leading technical and environmental specialists. We encourage people to review these reports which can be viewed and downloaded at thenittygritty.co.nz/research.’


“Don’t let us stick our head in the sand… once we pull our heads out again, there’ll be no more sand left.”

- Jaquie Brown



Doubling up on last years gathering of around 150 protestors, some 300 united souls stood firmly in the sand in 2022, to send an SOS -Save Our Sand. PHOTO/ELEVATED MEDIA

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With their habitat also threatened by ongoing sandmining, two of New Zealand’s endangered fairy terns showed up on the day to help media personality Jaquie Brown highlight the cause.

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Mangawhai/Pakiri coastline’s allied team: NZ Endangered Species Society Natalie Jessup, Kaipara District mayor Jason Smith, Greenpeace’s Elliot Prior, TV celeb and lover of Pakiri Jaquie Brown, Whanau O Pakiri member Jessie Stanley and SOS organiser Ken Rayward.

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Event MC, HeadsFM radioman and local surfer Mark Perry strongly stated ‘you don’t treat your mother with disrespect, and by taking sand that is like a slap in the face to mother earth’.


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