The Bat­tle­ground Below

In New Zealand, surfers are fight­ing against a seabed-min­ing pro­posal that could not only af­fect their lo­cal wa­ters, but set a prece­dent for a new kind of oceanic ex­ploita­tion around the world

Surfer - - Contents - Words by TODD PRODANOVICH, Pho­tos by RYAN CRAIG

In New Zealand, surfers are fight­ing against a seabed-min­ing pro­posal that could not only af­fect their lo­cal wa­ters, but set a prece­dent for a new kind of oceanic ex­ploita­tion around the world

The court­room felt com­i­cally small, like a halo­gen-lit shoe­box, even be­fore peo­ple started cram­ming in. Tucked away on the base­ment floor of the Welling­ton High Court, the non­de­script space seemed un­cer­e­mo­ni­ous, like where you’d go to protest a traf­fic ticket—not a venue for le­gal pro­ceed­ings that could de­cide the fate of nearly 2,000 square miles of ma­rine habi­tat. Yet one by one, a small reg­i­ment of black-robed lawyers filed into the room to speak for or against a highly-con­tro­ver­sial seabed min­ing pro­posal. Be­hind them were dozens of spec­ta­tors clam­or­ing for the hand­ful of seats in the cramped gallery, with spillovers grab­bing chairs from the hall out­side and block­ing the walk­way. The judge frowned at this chaos from the bench and sig­naled the court of­fi­cer to clear a path, and, while he was at it, to kick out the riff raff clut­ter­ing up the hear­ing.

“Mate, that’s not ex­actly court­room at­tire,” said the of­fi­cer, shak­ing his head and point­ing to my denim jacket. “Come with me.”

He es­corted me out of the court­room and into a hall­way, where he said I could lis­ten to the pro­ceed­ings through a pair of tinny speak­ers if I kept quiet and didn’t bother any­one. “Next time, re­mem­ber your suit and tie,” he quipped.

I wasn’t the only surfer in the court­room—just the only surfer who made the mis­take of dress­ing like one. Forty-seven-year-old Phil Mccabe can of­ten be found walk­ing bare­foot around the park­ing lot at Raglan’s Manu Bay or the nearby ecolodge, Solscape, where he hosts trav­el­ing surfers on the hunt for per­fectly-wrap­ping lefts. But Mccabe had found some­thing re­sem­bling busi­ness at­tire and had flown from his laid-back beach en­clave to stand with mem­bers of the en­vi­ron­men­tal group Ki­wis Against Seabed Min­ing—as well as Green­peace, lo­cal Maori groups and numer­ous other con­cerned par­ties—who have been en­trenched in the bat­tle against seabed min­ing in New Zealand for years.

The High Court was hear­ing an ap­peal to a 2017 de­ci­sion by the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Author­ity (EPA) to grant a per­mit for min­ing iron ore just off­shore of New Zealand’s west coast. It’s con­tro­ver­sial be­cause it would be the first seabed min­ing op­er­a­tion of its kind any­where on the planet, us­ing heavy ma­chin­ery to tear up mas­sive chunks of the seafloor, keep­ing the valu­able met­als and spew­ing the un­wanted sed­i­ment back into the wa­ter in vast dark plumes. While the scale of its po­ten­tial en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact isn’t yet known, sci­en­tists be­lieve the ef­fect on ma­rine ecosys­tems will be cat­a­strophic. Even with­out a com­pre­hen­sive study of the mine’s en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact, the con­cept is dis­taste­ful enough on its face to earn the col­lec­tive scorn of every­one from large-scale in­dus­trial fish­ing groups to ev­ery­day surfers.

“It’s just such an of­fen­sive pro­posal,” Mccabe had told me over cof­fee be­fore head­ing to the court­room that morn­ing. “Any­one who spends time around the ocean gets it straight away and doesn’t like the idea of it at all. It’s not dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand why tear­ing up the seafloor is a ter­ri­ble idea.”

Mccabe has been in­volved in this fight since he started vol­un­teer­ing with Ki­wis Against Seabed Min­ing (KASM) in 2012, when the same com­pany cur­rently try­ing to get a min­ing op­er­a­tion un­der­way, Trans Tas­man Re­sources (TTR), ap­plied for their first EPA per­mit. Mccabe doesn’t come from a science or le­gal back­ground, but as a long­time surfer, he’s pas­sion­ate about pro­tect­ing New Zealand’s coasts, and he showed a knack for spread­ing the word and or­ga­niz­ing the re­sis­tance.

“The things you see ev­ery day, you start to feel re­spon­si­ble for,” said Mccabe of why he dove head­first into the cause. “Un­for­tu­nately for me, I live high up on a hill in Raglan, so I can see a lot of coast and way out to sea.”

Mccabe set up com­mu­nity meet­ings in coastal towns up and down the North Is­land’s west­ern shores, or­ga­nized long-dis­tance walks and pad­dles (in­clud­ing one with Dave Ras­tovich that spanned over 200 miles) to raise aware­ness and he even­tu­ally be­came the chair of KASM.

In 2014, Mccabe and KASM en­joyed a ma­jor vic­tory when the EPA re­jected the TTR per­mit ap­pli­ca­tion due to a lack of in­for­ma­tion about the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact. But TTR wasn’t ready to give up on the valu­able iron-rich seafloor in New Zealand’s South Taranaki Bight, which is why they put for­ward a new ap­pli­ca­tion in 2016.It was ap­proved in a 2017 de­ci­sion that shocked Mccabe and his peers.

Hud­dled un­der the speak­ers in the hall­way of the Welling­ton High Court, I could hear rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the South Taranaki Iwi—maori tribes from the re­gion who op­pose the min­ing—as they led the room in a tra­di­tional Maori prayer be­fore the pro­ceed­ings be­gan. For the ap­pel­lants in the room, whether they were surfers, fish­er­men or indige­nous peo­ple with deep cul­tural ties to the sea, this hear­ing gave cause for both hope and fear. They were hope­ful that this judge, in this in­stance, would un­der­stand why their wa­ters were worth pro­tect­ing and rule against the min­ing com­pany. But the threat seabed min­ing pre­sents to oceans around the world is as mer­cu­rial as a dark plume of sed­i­ment drift­ing on a cur­rent, and there’s an in­her­ent fear in not know­ing what form that threat might take or where it might pop up next.

pic­ture an enor­mous un­der­wa­ter bull­dozer slowly crawl­ing on its treads as it plows the seafloor. As it tears up vast swaths of sed­i­ment, it sends the ma­te­rial through a long tube to a col­lec­tion ves­sel on the ocean’s sur­face, leav­ing an ex­ca­va­tion pit over 30 feet deep in its wake. Now pic­ture that op­er­a­tion tak­ing place over a roughly 40-square-mile area, where be­tween 300 and 500 mil­lion tons of seabed could be sucked up and pro­cessed an­nu­ally. Only about 10 per­cent of the ma­te­rial dredged up would be the iron ore sought by TTR, and the rest will be pumped back into the ocean, where plumes of the sed­i­ment will cover an es­ti­mated 2,000-mile ex­panse, drift­ing through the ocean in ways that can­not be ac­cu­rately pre­dicted at this time.

While it may sound like a sin­is­ter cor­po­rate scheme hatched in a dis­tant dystopian fu­ture, that is the ac­tual min­ing pro­posal ten­ta­tively per­mit­ted to oc­cur along the west coast of New Zealand, a coun­try known around the world for its pris­tine nat­u­ral beauty. To find out how this could hap­pen, and what this could mean for coastal ar­eas around the world, our crew, con­sist­ing of Hawai­ian surfers and en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists Cliff Kapono and Hank Gaskell, pho­tog­ra­pher Ryan Craig and my­self, headed to New Zealand to meet with those bat­tling to keep the min­ing at bay.

We left the bustling cap­i­tal city of Welling­ton after the first day of the ap­peal hear­ing and hugged the coast on our way north to­ward Taranaki, where the pro­posed min­ing area sits just off­shore. The re­gion is named after Mount Taranaki, an 8,000-foot-tall dor­mant vol­cano re­spon­si­ble for the cre­ation of the sur­round­ing land­scape. Its name means “shin­ing peak” in Maori, which is an apt de­scrip­tor for its bright, snow-capped sum­mit punc­tur­ing the clouds.

In the shadow of Mount Taranaki lies a beau­ti­ful coast­line, hun­dreds of miles long, with an abun­dance of fun points and beach breaks and numer­ous coastal com­mu­ni­ties that have be­come in­volved in the fight against seabed min­ing in their lo­cal­wa­ters. This is es­pe­cially true for the lo­cal Iwi, who have a con­nec­tion to the Taranaki re­gion that tran­scends West­ern con­cepts of land usage and own­er­ship. They view the glim­mer­ing peak of Taranaki as an an­ces­tor and whanau, or fam­ily mem­ber, and even went so far as to suc­cess­fully lobby the govern­ment to grant the moun­tain le­gal per­son­hood in 2017. That means that from a le­gal stand­point in New Zealand, any abuse or harm done to the moun­tain will be treated as harm­ing the Maori peo­ple them­selves.

Mount Taranaki isn’t the first in­stance of Maori peo­ple as­sert­ing that a ge­o­graphic fea­ture de­serves per­son­hood, and it won’t likely be the last. So it should come as no sur­prise that the lo­cal Iwi have been some of the most out­spo­ken op­po­nents of the pro­posed TTR min­ing op­er­a­tion.

“We’ve had big protests in Patea (a ma­jor­ity Maori com­mu­nity in South Taranaki), and it’s some­thing that every­one here is aware of and en­gaged with,” says Billy Tipene, a prom­i­nent mem­ber of the lo­cal Te Ru­nag­nga o Ngati Ruanui Iwi, and the Chair­man of the Patea Board­rid­ers’ Club. “For such a small com­mu­nity, Patea has been very ac­tive in their op­po­si­tion to seabed min­ing.”

On our way north, we pull off the main road in Patea, which is the clos­est com­mu­nity to the pro­posed min­ing site roughly 22 miles out to sea. The road is lined by over­grown grass with one side dip­ping into a shal­low val­ley where the Patea river snakes through the coun­try­side and emp­ties into the South Taranaki Bight. We park at an over­look where you can see a vast ex­panse of green, silty wa­ter with beach­break peaks crash­ing onto long stretches of dark, iron-rich sand. From our van­tage, the empty beach framed by stag­ger­ing cliffs gave the area an al­most pre­his­toric feel.

Far be­yond the beach break, in the deeper wa­ters off South Taranaki, swim crea­tures of pre­his­toric ori­gin, chas­ing krill through the cold, nutri­ent-rich cur­rents. Back in May, a team of sci­en­tists dis­cov­ered that the South Taranaki Bight is home

to its own ge­net­i­cally dis­tinct pop­u­la­tion of blue whales. And while these crea­tures are typ­i­cally con­sid­ered to be mi­gra­tory ma­rine mam­mals, this group of over 700 blue whales na­tive to the South Taranaki Bight are in fact per­ma­nent res­i­dents. The na­tive blue whale is just one ex­am­ple of the many unique ma­rine pop­u­la­tions that in­habit the re­gion that could be im­pacted by a large-scale min­ing op­er­a­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Dr. Shaw Mead, a ben­thic ecol­o­gist and oceanog­ra­pher who pro­vided ex­per­tise in the re­cent ap­peal, the plumes of fine sed­i­ment that would be pumped back into the ocean from pro­cess­ing ves­sels are prob­lem­atic for sev­eral rea­sons.

“First, it af­fects pri­mary pro­duc­tiv­ity, which is how much light can pen­e­trate the wa­ter and al­low phy­to­plank­ton to re­pro­duce and con­vert sun­light into en­ergy at the bot­tom of the food web,” says Mead. “Se­cond, when you suck up all that ma­te­rial, take away a frac­tion of it, and mix up the rest in pro­cess­ing ves­sels, what you’re re­leas­ing back into the ocean has be­come a ho­moge­nous mix. That’s not what nat­u­rally ex­ists on the seabed. And right now, there’s no good in­for­ma­tion about how that will im­pact the ma­rine en­vi­ron­ment and food web.”

Ac­cord­ing to Mead, the num­ber of un­knowns in re­gards to en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact are what make the EPA’S ap­proval of the TTR per­mit so sur­pris­ing. TTR’S first per­mit ap­pli­ca­tion was de­nied in 2014 be­cause the com­pany hadn’t done enough re­search into the po­ten­tial eco­log­i­cal im­pacts. When it was ap­proved in 2017, “There was no fur­ther work done with the new ap­pli­ca­tion with re­spect to eco­log­i­cal im­pacts,” says Mead. Yet TTR still sub­mit­ted more con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mates of the project’s en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact, and man­aged to re­ceive ap­proval in a con­tro­ver­sial split de­ci­sion by the EPA’S De­ci­sion Mak­ing Com­mit­tee.

“It’s a very un­usual sit­u­a­tion for a project like this to get ap­proval with so lit­tle in­for­ma­tion,” says Mead. “To give you an idea of the scale, it’s like strip-min­ing the en­tire greater Welling­ton City area to a depth of 11 me­ters and then putting it all back again. You’d never be al­lowed to do some­thing like this on land.”

Be­cause a seabed-min­ing project of this kind has never hap­pened be­fore, it’s im­pos­si­ble to fully un­der­stand what the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts will be un­til min­ing has ac­tu­ally com­menced. And be­cause the in­vest­ment re­quired to build the nec­es­sary min­ing equip­ment is in the bil­lions, no min­ing com­pany wants to com­mit to a short-term per­mit with the pos­si­bil­ity of ex­ten­sion once a proper en­vi­ron­men­tal assess­ment has been made. TTR’S ap­pli­ca­tion was for a 35-year per­mit, meaning that if the per­mit is al­lowed, what­ever the scale of en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact ends up be­ing, the dam­age will con­tinue for over three decades. This could af­fect not only the del­i­cate ecosys­tems of the South Taranaki Bight, but also the fish­ing in­dus­try that many lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties rely on.

Patea used to be home to a meat pro­cess­ing plant, which em­ployed roughly 1,000 lo­cal res­i­dents and acted as the com­mu­nity’s main eco­nomic en­gine. When it was shut­tered in 1982 amid a down­turn in the New Zealand meat in­dus­try, how­ever, the com­mu­nity fell into tur­moil. In some ways Patea has bounced back through dairy farm­ing and fish­ing, but you can still see the bro­ken-down rem­nants of a more pros­per­ous past when you drive down the main road, with many build­ings per­ma­nently closed, their paint peel­ing and fa­cades cracked. The pos­si­bil­ity of sed­i­ment plumes de­creas­ing fish stock in the re­gion would add in­sult to in­jury for a com­mu­nity that has al­ready suf­fered greatly at the hands of global eco­nomic forces.

“We live off the land and the sea, sim­ple as that,” says Tipene. “They’re not tak­ing into ac­count our in­ter­ests, as we rely on these wa­ters for food and eco­nomic ben­e­fit. But more than that, they’re not tak­ing into ac­count our cul­ture. Our gods are the sea, the for­est, the air, so an at­tack on these things are an at­tack on our cul­tural be­liefs. That’s un­ac­cept­able.”

Get­ting to your feet and look­ing down the line at In­di­ca­tors, it’s im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent why Raglan is con­sid­ered the most iconic surf zone in all of New Zealand. At this par­tic­u­lar left­hander, even on a lack­lus­ter swell with light on­shore winds, uni­form walls peel in front of the rock-lined point with dy­namic turn sec­tions, stretches of wide-open faces for carves and the oc­ca­sional al­mond-shaped tube.

From my van­tage on the out­side, Kapono and Gaskell took turns dis­ap­pear­ing as they dropped into the wrap­ping lefts half­way down the point. Ev­ery few yards for the length of a foot­ball field, you could see ex­plo­sions of fins and spray as the two surfers belted the lip well into the in­side.

They’d had plenty of back­hand prac­tice over the last week. From Patea, we’d been go­ing no di­rec­tion but left as we surfed our way up the west coast all the way to Ahipara at the jagged tip of the North Is­land. There, what looked like a per­fect, Rin­con-sized point from in­side the bay turned out to be a nearly end­less string of lefts as you keep trav­el­ing fur­ther around the cor­ner. The fur­ther we went, the fewer surfers we saw, un­til even­tu­ally there were no surfers at all—just a herd of wild horses stand­ing around on an ex­posed stretch of reef, look­ing gen­er­ally unim­pressed by the il­log­i­cally-long waves peel­ing past them. When we fi­nally did find the top of the point, we’d been driv­ing for miles—“leg burn­ers” doesn’t even be­gin to de­scribe the length of the waves that took us back into the bay.

All along the west side of New Zealand’s North Is­land, most of the coast­line is un­de­vel­oped and lo­cal surf breaks have an in­her­ently pris­tine, wild qual­ity. Sit­ting in the lineup at Ahipara, Piha or Raglan, watch­ing dol­phins swim­ming through swells or fish jump­ing as they chase bait balls through the cool, clear wa­ter, the thought of heavy equip­ment strip­ping the seafloor of life and leav­ing a lit­eral black cloud in it’s wake is dif­fi­cult to com­pre­hend.

Mccabe says that one of the great­est things about liv­ing in New Zealand is that you’re never far from “wild places.” Iron­i­cally, his fight to pro­tect these places has ac­tu­ally led to him spend­ing less time en­joy­ing them. As chair of KASM, Mccabe spent count­less hours or­ga­niz­ing meet­ings, lob­by­ing me­dia and try­ing to raise aware­ness by any means pos­si­ble.

“I was go­ing pretty hard at it for a good five years,” Mccabe says. “At a cer­tain point, I re­al­ized that ev­ery­thing else in my life had be­come se­cond to the work we were do­ing with KASM. I’d lit­er­ally be look­ing out my win­dow at good waves and then just put my head back down and keep work­ing on emails. It’s an odd thing when your love of surf­ing makes you want to de­fend the ocean, even when do­ing that keeps you from surf­ing [laughs.]”

You can see the fruits of his la­bor up and down the coast. KASM’S grass­roots mes­sage fos­tered a mas­sive groundswell of sup­port, and to­day you can find KASM signs lin­ing coastal roads and KASM bumper stick­ers in the park­ing lots of ev­ery well­known surf break. When Mccabe did find time to get in the wa­ter, his hard work had earned him plenty of good­will around Raglan, with the lo­cal crew hoot­ing him into a few gems re­gard­less of who was in the num­ber one spot.

By 2017, how­ever, the fight had started tak­ing its toll on Mccabe, and he re­al­ized that he’d been ne­glect­ing other as­pects of his life, in­clud­ing run­ning his eco-lodge, and he de­cided to step down as chair of KASM. He con­tin­ues to be in­volved, but has left the ma­jor­ity of the or­ga­ni­za­tional du­ties in the hands of long­time en­vi­ron­men­tal lob­by­ist Cindy Bax­ter.

After our ses­sion at In­di­ca­tors, we headed back to Mccabe’s eco-lodge, Solscape, for a lunch mostly of veg­eta­bles pulled from the many gar­dens dot­ting his sprawl­ing prop­erty. Since Mccabe pur­chased the grounds in the early 2000s, he’s set out to cre­ate the most en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious ac­com­mo­da­tions he can. Some of the rooms are re­pur­posed train cars and oth­ers are “earth domes,” which are es­sen­tially cozy ro­tunda huts build from re­cy­cled bags in­su­lated with clay. Stand­ing in the gar­den, over­look­ing Solscape’s sprawl­ing grass yard and the pris­tine bay below, you un­der­stand Mccabe’s de­sire to pro­tect what he sees ev­ery­day.

Ac­cord­ing to Mccabe, step­ping down as chair of KASM was nec­es­sary for him to cre­ate a sense of bal­ance in his life, but he wasn’t walk­ing away from the fight, just rec­og­niz­ing a need for new tac­tics. KASM has al­ready in­di­cated that in the event that the Taranaki per­mit is up­held by the High Court, they’re pre­pared to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court. But while New Zealan­ders wait for the fi­nal de­ci­sion on this par­tic­u­lar seabed-min­ing per­mit, count­less po­ten­tial min­ing sites are be­ing ex­plored else­where in the world, and Mccabe plans to get in­volved in the fight on an in­ter­na­tional level.

In the Pa­cific Ocean, be­tween Mexico and Hawaii, there’s a stretch of seabed roughly the size of Europe called the Clar­ion-clipperton zone, which is rich in poly­metal­lic nod­ules (ba­si­cally large chunks of valu­able met­als em­bed­ded in the seafloor). Be­cause this area is more than 200 nau­ti­cal miles off­shore from any sov­er­eign na­tion, it falls un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of the In­ter­na­tional Seabed Author­ity (ISA), a United Na­tions com­mit­tee tasked with reg­u­lat­ing the ex­ploita­tion of nat­u­ral re­sources in in­ter­na­tional wa­ters. At the time of writ­ing, at least a dozen ex­plo­ration per­mits for the Clar­ion-clipperton zone have al­ready been is­sued by the ISA to min­ing com­pa­nies around the world. The ISA is cur­rently devel­op­ing ex­ploita­tion reg­u­la­tions—the cri­te­ria un­der which these com­pa­nies can break ground and be­gin ex­ca­vat­ing the seabed—and un­less they’re met by sig­nif­i­cant op­po­si­tion, these com­pa­nies are ex­pected to start min­ing op­er­a­tions in the next five to ten years.

“It’s def­i­nitely go­ing to be­come a big­ger is­sue in the com­ing years,” says Dun­can Cur­rie, an en­vi­ron­men­tal lawyer who worked with KASM on their re­cent ap­peal and has also worked on seabed min­ing is­sues with the ISA. “We’re talk­ing about very large sums of money when it comes to these min­ing op­er­a­tions. In March, MIT said that the cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture for each ap­pli­ca­tion is ex­pected to be about $3 or $4 bil­lion, with rev­enue of about $2 bil­lion per year and costs of about $1 bil­lion a year. So, very ball­park, you’re talk­ing about a po­ten­tial $1 bil­lion profit per year for each ap­pli­ca­tion.”

De­pend­ing on the type of re­source be­ing ex­tracted, the min­ing meth­ods will dif­fer in each ap­pli­ca­tion, but ex­perts be­lieve the risks will be much the same for most ma­rine ecosys­tems. For that rea­son, Mccabe hopes that the noise they’ve made in New Zealand will be heard around the world and serve as a ral­ly­ing cry for the many bat­tles sure to come.

Mccabe and the many groups protest­ing seabed min­ing have at least made their mark in New Zealand’s coastal com­mu­ni­ties. In surf shops and line­ups from Welling­ton to Ahipara, many surfers are well aware of the is­sue and what’s at stake. But if you ask Mccabe, he’ll tell you that’s the easy part, and stop­ping the prac­tice glob­ally is go­ing to re­quire a more tran­scen­dent ap­proach.

“As surfers, we’re coastal peo­ple, so we un­der­stand these is­sues,” he says. “We spend so much time sit­ting in the wa­ter, rid­ing on it, walk­ing by it, star­ing at it. We’re con­nected to it and we care about it. The chal­lenge is get­ting peo­ple who don’t spend that kind of time with the ocean and don’t have as strong a con­nec­tion to it to pro­tect it. How can we ex­pect those peo­ple to care about these is­sues, un­less we re­ally care and stand up and do some­thing? It’s our job to show the world that this mat­ters.”

(Clock­wise from op­po­site) Hawai­ian chemist and pro surfer Cliff Kapono was drawn to New Zealand by more than just fun waves like this. Kapono feels a strong con­nec­tion to the indige­nous Maori peo­ple through a shared Poly­ne­sian an­ces­try and even vis­ited the South Is­land to help in the 2011 Christchurch earth­quake re­lief ef­fort.Kapono and Hank Gaskell, mar­veling at the length of the lefts at Ahipara, with plenty more ride­able sec­tions both on the in­side and around the next cor­ner.Phil Mccabe, a long­time Raglan surfer and for­mer chair of Ki­wis Against Seabed Min­ing, has been in­stru­men­tal in or­ga­niz­ing a grass­roots re­sis­tance to min­ing in the South Taranaki Bight.

(Clock­wise from op­po­site) Gaskell, about half­way through an ab­so­lute leg-burner at Ahipara. “I didn’t know places like this ex­isted,” said Gaskell after tak­ing in the sheer scale of the point.The pris­tine beauty of New Zealand’s coast­line is in­com­pa­ra­ble, and it’s no sur­prise so many surfers are de­ter­mined to pro­tect their wa­ters from seabed min­ing.The dark sands that ex­tend from the shores of Patea out to sea are a beau­ti­ful sight to be­hold. They also re­veal the high iron con­tent of the sed­i­ment, which the min­ing com­pany Trans Tas­man Re­sources is ea­ger to ex­ploit.Kapono’s love for spend­ing time in the ocean (es­pe­cially when that means lay­ing down fe­ro­cious drop-wal­lets) has led him to be­come an out­spo­ken en­vi­ron­men­tal ad­vo­cate. He shares the same con­cern as many in the en­vi­ron­men­tal com­mu­nity that seabed min­ing will be an enor­mous threat to ocean health in com­ing years.

(Far left) Kapono and Gaskell, ready for dawn pa­trol at Ahipara.(Left) A dif­fer­ent breed of lo­cals have claimed this par­tic­u­lar stretch of New Zealand reef. Gaskell, get­ting into their good graces.(Op­po­site) Gaskell, launch­ing off a rare right-han­der in the land of lefts.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.