Renowned surfer and environmental activist, Dave “Rasta” Rastovich (32, Byron bay, AUS), has successfully completed the first leg of an epic 350km paddle from Cape Taranaki to Piha in New Zealand which he has undertaken to draw awareness to proposed seabed mining that threatens the area.
Pictured above: Environmental campaigner, Dave Rastovich (32, AUS) receives a traditional Maori blessing from Tihi Kura Hohioa (left, with son on his shoulders) prior to commencing his epic 350km, two-week solo paddle from Cape Taranaki to Piha, west of Auckland, in New Zealand. The paddle aims to draw international awareness to the seabed mining proposed for the coastline.Credit :Dawe/S4C
Thirty-two year old Rastovich, who is New Zealand born and now lives near Byron Bay, Australia, completed approximately 40 kilometres in around five hours to reach Fitzroy Beach from the launch location near Cape Egmont Lighthouse yesterday.
Rastovich’s 17-foot paddle-board is custom built for the epic journey that will carry him through the coastal zone under direct threat from iron ore mining companies. The entire west coast of New Zealand, from Wanganui to Cape Reinga, is under either a prospecting or exploration permit for iron sand. A local group, "Kiwis Against Seabed Mining" (KASM) has been established to draw attention to and oppose the plans.
“This campaign is about awareness and education and supporting the great work of community based groups like KASM (Kiwis Against Seabed Mining). We’re urging people to just have a look at the facts and how that will impact them and their community,” said Rastovich.
Offshore seabed mining on the scale proposed for the coastline is unprecedented. Due to its experimental nature, there is insufficient knowledge to predict what the total cumulative effects will be. However, devastating impact on the fisheries industry, irreversible altercation of world recognised surf breaks, poor economic return and the total extinction of the critically endangered species, the Maui’s Dolphin, appear certain.
“If we sit back and do nothing we will only have ourselves to point the finger at, and I don't want that,” added Rastovich.
Fellow activist, Howie Cooke, who along with Rastovich co-founded the global organisation Surfers for Cetaceans in 2004, says while the situation is critical, it is definitely not too late to act.
“In the case of the Maui’s dolphin we can look to other success stories to inspire immediate and decisive action. The Tongan Humpback whale population was reduced to just 15 breeding females – the same number of Maui’s Dolphin that exists today – and human endeavour now sees that population exceeding 2000,” explains Cooke.
Rastovich launched his paddle from “Te Mapua”, a waka channel between the rocks that has been used as a departure and arrival point for generations of Maori accessing the sea. Local land custodian, Tihi Kura Hohaia, blessed the journey via traditional Maori prayer.
The launch location bares huge significance. “Parihaka Pa” is an area steeped in history. The events that took place in and around Parihaka, particularly from about 1860 to 1900, have affected the political, cultural and spiritual dynamics of the entire country. Of particular note are the actions of two figures, Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi who led the Parihaka movement via their commitment to non-violent action during repeated, violent attempts by the government to displace them from their land.
More information can be found here http://parihaka.com/
What can people do?
Click on the “act now” button and add your email to the list for submissions opposing.
The proposed event schedule is listed below, with all local community members and media encouraged to participate:
Fri 16th Nov - Oakura Beach (paddle begins)
Fri 16th Nov - Fitzroy Beach New Plymouth Surf Club (music, food & info) from 6pm
Sat 17th Nov - Education and awareness session with local boardriders club
Sun 18th - Fri 23rd paddle, paddle, paddle (meetings and engaging with local communities)
Sat 24th - Raglan Info Event
25th – 30th – paddle, paddle, paddle to South of Piha meetings and engaging with local communities)
Sat 1st Dec – Piha Conclusion “Love Your Ocean Day!” Major day time event. Evening finale event at the Piha Bowls Club
Proposals to mine the West Coast seabed are firmly opposed by a range of business groups and environmental organisations, including SEAFIC (The Seafood Industry Council), Sea Shepherd NZ, Project Jonah, Sustainable Coastlines, Mauis SOS, Greenpeace, WWF, Forest and Bird, and Surfbreak Protection Society.
Leading kiwi individuals including All Blacks star Josh Kronfeld, and ex-Waitakare Mayor Bob Harvey, have also criticised the plans in public, with Kronfeld describing them recently as “a blindside hit”.
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