“A neighbour does not dig an open-cast fossil fuel pit on your back door”

6 Sep

This is the second post in our series featuring oral submissions made at the Mangatangi Mine hearings.


Aimee Whyte and her family live only 800 metres from the proposed coal mine, where they rear calves and young stock. She is strongly opposed to the mine and gave one of the most powerful submissions of the day, speaking from the heart as a “mother and proud member of the community”.

Previous post in the series

The children

Aimee’s reasons for opposing the mine are numerous, but at the top of the list are the children: her own and those of the local community.

Aimee and Brad Whyte, opposing the mine for the sake of their kids.

Aimee and Brad Whyte, opposing the mine for the sake of their kids.

She describes a thriving local school community with low student to teacher ratios and a preschool held in the Mangatawhiri Hall, not far from the mine site.

She believes the viability of these schools is at risk from the mine:

Members of the community will move on and we will not get any new people coming to live here. No one wants to buy property by a coal mine or raise their families next to one, so our numbers dwindle away, along with resources and funding. Who in their right mind purchases land with intent for such mining activities so close to a school and preschool? Children have a right for quality education and to be in a safe and healthy environment whilst being educated.

She does not want to see school and mining traffic mix on the Mangatawhiri Road under any circumstances.

The right to drink clean water

Another of Aimee’s main concerns is the access to clean drinking water.

Our drinking water comes from our roof. Particles from coal mining will settle on our roofs and enter our drinking supply.

The school’s water supply is of major concern. Who will monitor what the kids are drinking there?

Keeping the dust down

As well as maintaining a clean supply of drinking water, there is a concern about the supply of water that will be needed for dust suppression.

Amiee notes that Glencoal’s peak months of operation would be the drier months of November and December. She is concerned about the strain this extra demand for water will put on an already scarce resource.

If this water is taken from the ground, what will happen to our streams and surrounding water supplies? Especially during three or four month droughts when stock and lifestyle farming blocks require this for activities not so wasteful.

The mine affects all our surrounding streams and Glencoal will be responsible for lower than normal stream flows. Allocation in the area already exceeds the limit by 16%. And, what if water is not available to spread to suppress dust and a chemical suppressant is required? Chemical dust suppression is regarded as highly toxic. What happens when this gets into our water supplies, pre and post treatment?

A lack of faith in mine monitoring

So many aspects of the mining operation would have to be monitored to ensure the health and safety of the local community, that Amiee does not have confidence it could, in any way, be adequate.

She asks:

Who will monitor what the kids are drinking here, during construction and mining?

Who will test our [home supply of drinking] water? Who will filter it?

Who monitors this and reports findings and rectifies problems? What guarantees do I have that this will be done?

How much money will Glencoal pay the district council for their water usage? Who monitors when their allocation is exceeded? Who gets penalised?

Once they have spent a year constructing the mine, they won’t close it down for breaching any of the clauses, will they?

Glencoal is not our neighbour

One of the communications from Glencoal that really rubbed Aimee up the wrong way is a flyer delivered to residents beginning, “Dear neighbour”. In her oral submission, Amiee Whyte took Glencoal to task, schooling them on the true meaning of the word “neighbour”.

Neighbours help you with your children if you can’t pick them up from school. They ring you on the phone to ask how you are, or if you would like anything in town. Neighbours genuinely care about each other and have their best interests at heart. A neighbour does not dig an open cast fossil fuel pit on your back door, take all your groundwater, upset a community and offer no benefit – only heartbreak and disturbance.

A flyer from Glencoal delivered to local residents.

A flyer from Glencoal delivered to local residents.

Life is precious

As far as Aimee is concerned the mine just isn’t worth it.

The mine is not an investment it is a major disturbance for a substance that is not sustainable. How is mining a burning a fossil fuel sustainable? Why do we still do it? Because it’s cheap. That is not a good enough reason for me or my family. Life isn’t cheap, it is so precious.

What I stand for is basic. It is health and the freedom to raise our family here and be left alone by a corporate giant that wants to screwball our community for its entirely selfish reasons: to disturb, dig, destroy, contaminate and then burn fossil fuels to produce a product that claims to be from a 100% pure nation.

Our future is here. Glencoal’s is not.

Aimee wrapped up her heartfelt submission by painting a picture of why Mangatawhiri is so important to her and her family.

Why don’t we move away? We have a family home. Our children were born here. We met each other here. We have made real friends here that care about each other. Our children are growing up together. This is our home.

Sometimes, on a sunny afternoon, when the sun is shining on the hills, I stop for a moment and look around and appreciate the beauty that surrounds me. I feel so much love for this area and the memories we are making here.

Our future is here. Glencoal’s is not.

Previous post in the series

One Response to ““A neighbour does not dig an open-cast fossil fuel pit on your back door””


  1. “The people who gain are outsiders” | auckland coal action - 06/09/2013

    […] Next post in the series […]

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