Surf Into Summer: Phil McCabe
Originally published on 31 March 2016 in the Raglan Chronicle
It is both the love of the water and the love of the surf that has caused people to stand up and fight for it. Surfers locally, nationally and internationally voluntarily take on projects of all sizes, dedicating endless hours and energy to protect the oceans worldwide.
Following our discussion with Malibu, we sat down with another one of Raglan's own protectors, Phil McCabe, who at the time of our interview, was the Chair of KASM, Kiwi’s Against Seabed Mining and Head Chief of Solscape Eco Retreat.
Phil moved to Raglan at the beginning of the 90's. Looking for serenity away from Auckland, he settled into a house in the bush. It wasn’t until after he moved in that he discovered his neighbourhood also came with 6-foot peeling lefts, more aptly known as Indicators.
He and his partner and fellow surfer, Bernadette Gavin had been running Solscape for over thirteen years, putting in consistent work to make it an educational eco retreat. Providing accommodation, surf lessons, permaculture classes and a flourishing workshop retreat space for both visitors and locals alike.
To those that know him, it might seem as if Phil has been an environmental activist all his life, but it wasn’t until 2010 that he really began to dedicate himself to protecting both the water and the land.
One of the names brought up during our conversation was Whaingaroa’s own heroin, Māori land and culture activist, Eva Rickard. Although he wasn’t around during Eva’s movements, he has taken the time to read about what she did for the people of Whaingaroa and those beyond the divvy.
“Because she stood up, because of her example, that was it for me,” Phil stated.
This is not the first time her name was brought up since talking about the surf. In our conversation with Malibu, we found out that Eva wanted to have a marine science office based at the Kokiri Centre.
By default, a few years later, eCoast Marine Consulting & Research and oceangraphic consulting group, ASR came into the community–bringing a new breed of people, and another level of environmental consciousness.
“Eva, that feels like the beginning.
And then there are things like Xtreme Zero Waste, Harbour Care, Kai Whenua. Places and people that have built themselves up together, through a permaculture mindset. Looking after what’s here. Looking after what is in good health, and regenerating what is not in good health,” said Phil.
Through Phil’s work with KASM, he has encountered governmental policies and corporations that are pushing hard to do things within the ocean that could be detrimental to its health.
“The people who are pushing those policies don’t actually have a connection to it.
When we’ve gone to these hearings, we express our connection to the ocean, and the importance it has to us. It’s our responsibility. If we don’t tell them, they don’t know that it exists," he stated.
The two biggest threats to our coastline at the moment:
Half a million kilometres of ocean was released for oil exploration last Monday (21/03/16). Allowing international companies to come in and cherry pick the pieces they think look good, to see if they are of any value. Exploration results in things such as seismic surveying. But just because they are surveying doesn’t guarantee that they will drill there. A big part of that is here off of the west coast.
The second major threat, seabed mining.
**TTR, Trans-Tasman Resources is in the process of preparing to relaunch the same application that they put in in 2013, which KASM played a big role in stopping.
It would potentially be the first of its kind in the world [the mining of seabed iron ore]. Although the application is for South Taranaki, it is our coastline. If it were to get the green light, there could be more applications to come for exploration and exploitation of resources up the coastline.
When we asked Phil how everyday citizens and surfers could get more involved in efforts that will help to protect our seas, he reminded us that it's important to find your 'awe inspiring moment' and let it drive you.
When you're in the water, what makes your heart skip a beat? Whether it's a peeling left or watching the moonrise from the shore after a sunset surf, if those are the moments you want to continue experiencing over and over again, you have to stand up and fight for it.
Its moments like those, paired with a passion for the sea that keep Phil, Malibu and others alike working tirelessly to ensure our waves are protected for years to come.
**TTR's 2016 application to begin seabed mining was given the green light in August of 2017 by the EPA. KASM immediately appealed the decision and took the EPA to the High Court, where the decision was overturned. However, TTR has not let up.
Phil and Bernadette have since sold Solscape Eco Retreat, and Phil stepped down from his role as the KASM chair, but they have carried on in their fight to defend and safeguard Mother Earth. More recently, their passion for the environment took them all the way to Africa, to volunteer with the Tanglewood Foundation NZ in a gorilla habitat deep in the Congo.
We are continually inspired by the ongoing work that Phil and his family do within our community and now across the world.
As surfers, it is important to recognise the role we play in being communicators for not just the sea, but the environment as a whole.
Photo thanks to George Santorik