A National MP has said with "1000 years of reserves" of coal on the West Coast, there's plenty of time to "come up with an alternative" source of income.
About 4000 people on the West Coast rallied at Greymouth's Messenger Park on Sunday, concerned about Government changes to industries crucial to the region.
They met in Greymouth, calling for support following a raft of legislation including a ban on mining on conservation land and tough restrictions on farming.
National Party leader Simon Bridges was there, as was West Coast-based list MP Maureen Pugh.
"Coasters can't afford another three years of this Government and its constant attacks on West Coast livelihoods," Bridges tweeted on Sunday afternoon, smiling for a photo with Pugh, whom he once described as "f**king useless".
"They're making their voice heard and we're listening."
Another Twitter user asked Bridges and Pugh if the West Coast's "best course of action is developing more sustainable tourism like the Paparoa Track or Old Ghost Road, or mining coal until it's all gone?"
Pugh responded, "We have another 1000 years' of reserves so we'll have come up with an alternative by then."
Climate scientists say we need drastically cut the burning of fossil fuels now, and stop altogether sometime in the next few decades if we're to prevent runaway warming, potentially leaving large parts of the planet uninhabitable.
Newshub has contacted Pugh to ask if she truly believes 1000 years of burning coal is a viable plan.
The response on Twitter was universally negative.
"Your plan is to mine coal for 1000 years???" asked Auckland Councillor Richard Hills.
"Simon, this MP is doing more harm to your party than you are," said another user. "Did neither of you see the #climatestrike in the media?"
Rally organiser Peter Haddock told Newshub it was disappointing there were no Government representatives there.
"That was the whole idea of the event - to showcase the things we do well on the coast. Without them coming, it just shows they're not listening."
Haddock says they hoped to showcase things the region does well.
"No one from Labour or the Greens, That's disappointing to us."
He says the community feels silenced.