Using surfboards, kayaks, malibus and traditional wakas (canoes) the protestors joined New Zealand born professional surfer and environmental activist, Dave "Rasta" Rastovich (32, Byron Bay, NSW, AUS), on a paddle upstream to the Kopua Domain; together forming a united front in opposing the coastal and ecological threats to the area.
The extinction of the critically endangered Maui's dolphin, degradation of the fisheries industry and permanent alteration of globally renowned surf breaks are just some of the outcomes said to be at risk if seabed mining is to occur. At present, the entire west coast of New Zealand, from Wanganui to Cape Reinga, is under either a prospecting or exploration permit for iron sand.
"There is so much at risk. Wiping out the Maui's dolphin, losing sand, stirring up the seabed, disturbing and releasing toxins, creating huge dead-zones ... this is an issue that is going to affect everyone in New Zealand," said Rastovich.
"Less than three percent of the money raised from these massive projects is going to stay in New Zealand so it's not about money," he added.
In the case of the Maui's dolphin of which just 55 are said to remain, Rastovich cited the recovery of the Tongan and East Coast Australian humpback whale populations as inspiration to act and act fast.
"It's not too late. The Tongan humpback whale population was reduced to 55 and now that whale population exceeds 2000. With decisive action and collective awareness, it is possible to save this beautiful and unique animal," he urged.
As a way of drawing awareness to the seabed mining issues and to show his support of the locally formed group KASM (Kiwi's Against Seabed Mining), Rastovich and a team of like-minded supporters have paddled to Raglan from Cape Taranaki.
The team, which includes KASM (Kiwis Against Seabed Mining) spokesperson, Phil McCabe (Raglan, NZ) have been engaging surfers, school children, Maori families and land custodians, fisherman and business owners, during their journey north which will culminate in Piha (north of Auckland) next Saturday December 1st.
Those wishing to support Rastovich's ongoing paddle and the awareness campaign are welcome to be present at the finish. Rastovich is expected to arrive into Piha on his custom built, 17ft paddle board at approximately 12pm.
Anyone interested in the issues concerning seabed mining, are encouraged to visit the kasm.org.nz website and sign up for the submission reminder (top right of home page).
Proposals to mine the West Coast seabed are firmly opposed by a range of business groups and environmental organisations, including SEAFIC (The Seafood Industry Council), Sea Shepherd NZ, Project Jonah, Sustainable Coastlines, Mauis SOS, Greenpeace, WWF, Forest and Bird, and Surfbreak Protection Society.
Leading kiwi individuals including All Blacks star Josh Kronfeld, and ex-Waitakare Mayor Bob Harvey, have also criticised the plans in public, with Kronfeld describing them recently as "a blindside hit".
More information can be found at the following websites:
www.kasm.org.nz / www.s4cglobal.org