A prominent botanist is urging the Government to rethink a mining contract for the West Coast.
Last year, the Government granted permission for Australian company Bathhurst Resources to create on open-cast mine on the Denniston Plateau.
That decision is now before the Environment Court, with conservationists arguing that the impact will be severe.
Sir Alan Mark claims the Government is turning a blind eye to the area's abundance of unique species.
"It's clearly indicative of this Government's aspirations, intentions, decisions, determinations to put economic returns ahead of virtually any other factor," says Sir Alan.
"Even New Zealand's unique biodiversity."
Sir Alan says the decision will cost New Zealand tourists and its clean-and-green image.