of the Otago Daily Times
The company behind the bid to pipe 800,000 million litres of water each month from a catchment near the Mount Aspiring Park through a kiwi sanctuary to ships anchored off the West Coast says a petition opposing the development presented to Parliament yesterday can not stop it.
Okuru Enterprises chairman Peter Roselli, of Westport, said he was unaware of the petition which called on the Government to “urgently withdraw permission for a pipeline to be laid through a sanctuary that is home to New Zealand’s rarest kiwi, the Haast tokoeka, by Mount Aspiring National Park”.
Mr Roselli said the petition could not stop the project as the company had all the required consents.
The project posed no risk to the kiwis according to the country’s leading kiwi expert, he said.
Action Station director of campaigns Laura O’Connell Rapira said she was inspired to create the on-line petition on April 12 after reading about the controversial scheme in the news.
“There are only about 400 of the critically endangered Haast tokoeka kiwi remaining and about 40 of them are thought to live in the pathway of the proposed pipeline so I wanted to do something to stop the development from going ahead,” she said.
Within two days the petition had 8000 signatures and within several months it had gathered 18,600.
She said she had hoped to deliver the petition to the Minister of Conservation Maggie Barry in person or to West Coast-Tasman Labour MP Damien O’Connor, but both declined to accept it.
Green MP and environment spokeswoman Eugenie Sage accepted the petition on the steps of Parliament House and had tabled it with the office of the clerk until the new government was sworn in when it would be referred to a select committee, Ms O’Connell Rapira said.
In 1994 the Department of Conservation granted Okuru a 25-year deed of easement across what had become the Arawhata conservation area to construct and maintain a weir and pipeline and to convey water.
The Haast tokoeka sanctuary was established in 2000.
When contacted by the Otago Daily Times Ms Barry said she could not accept the petition as she needed to remain “neutral”.
“Okuru Enterprises will be required to reapply for a concession for an easement for activity that would occur after 2019 as the current permission expires in 2019. As the minister,
I’m also the decision-maker if a new application for an easement is made,” she said.
Mr Roselli said he was in negotiations and hoped the project would start before 2019 in which case he believed the company would not need to apply for another easement through the sanctuary.
However, DOC western South Island operations director Mark Davies said DOC had had not received a new easement application and if it did the application would go through a full public consultation process.
“This needs to occur regardless of whether they have become operational before 2019,” he said.