The Northland Port Corporation (NZ) Ltd proposed to establish a new deep-water port in the Whangarei Harbour at Mrsden Point and required resource consents to do so.
The applications for some twenty-four consents were opposed. There were ten appeals from the committees’ decisions. To the extent that the proposed activities were classified as restricted coastal activities, the appeals were deemed inquiries and the court’s function was not to decide the resource consent applications but to conduct an inquiry on the committees’ recommendations and to report to the Minister of Conservation.
Mr. Parata was of the Te Waiariki descent and appealed against the decision to grant consent on the grounds of the relationship of Maori and their culture and traditions with their ancestral land, water and sites and the impacts of the consents on these.
The court emphasized that the most significant effect on the environment of allowing the development would be the change to the shape and tidal flow in a relevant small part of the Whangarei Harbour as a result of the dredging and reclamation.
It held that the proposed port would represent managing the natural and physical resources in a way which would enable people and the community to provide for their economic wellbeing. The proposal had been designed, and the amended conditions were calculated, to avoid, remedy or minimize any adverse effects on social or cultural wellbeing and on the environment. It would not interfere with sustaining the potential of natural and physical resources to meet the needs of future generations.
Any port of the scale needed would unavoidably involve loss of open public harbor. The configuration of the reclamation and turning basin in this proposal had been designed to minimize the adverse effects. Similarly they had been designed to minimize the inevitable visual effects. In the view of the court the purpose of the Environmental Management Act would be better served by granting the consents sought, and by imposition specific conditions, than by refusing them.