Thousands march in protest against mining

An estimated 40,000 people turned out in central Auckland on Saturday morning to protest against the Government's plans to open conservation land to mining.

The march up Queen St drew people came from Coromandel peninsula and Great Barrier Island - both areas that might be mined if the plans go ahead. They carried placards with messages such as "Let's mine John Key's pockets" and "Green not Greed".

Greenpeace says the march sends a clear message to the Government that it is out of touch with ordinary New Zealanders.

The organisation's executive director, Bunny McDiarmid, says that, while they are thrilled at the size of the turnout, more people must make their opposition heard.

There have been about 14,000 submissions on the proposal so far, but Ms McDiarmid would like to see that number trebled.

Deadline for submissions extended

The closing date for submissions, originally 4 May, has been extended by the Government to 26 May, with Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee saying that hui will be held with iwi significantly affected by the proposals.

He says the meetings will be held in early May and it's important that iwi have an opportunity to provide written submissions afterwards.

The Ngati Rehua hapu has a claim with the Waitangi Tribunal for most of Great Barrier Island, and chairman Rawiri Wharemate says some elders say there are waahi tapu, or sacred sites, on the Ahumata Plateau, where mining is proposed.

He also says the Government failed to warn the hapu about its plans.

Mr Wharemate says elders will make the final decision on whether to formally oppose the mining.

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