A Ngapuhi hapu leading an anti-mining protest says farming is the key to employment in its rohe, not mining.
Ngati Hau whanau are objecting to plans by De Grey, an Australian mining company, to start prospecting this month for gold and silver in the Puhipuhi hills, north of Whangarei.
The hapu is worried the high mercury levels in the area, where mercury was once mined, could contaminate aquifers and streams if dislodged by drilling.
Christie Henare has been keeping watch with her children and elderly mother on Puhipuhi Road for the arrival of the miners, due any day now to start prospecting in the nearby hills.
She said the area's waterways are important to her people, who live on farming land and have always produced milk and meat.
Ms Henare said locals should therefore be looking for jobs in farming, not mining.
She said she will bring in other protesters once the miners arrive.
De Grey says its drilling programme will not release mercury into waterways.