A closed meeting in Whangarei between Norwegian oil company, Statoil, the Northland Regional Council and local Northern hapū members was surrounded by a group of protesters against the oil giants plans to explore off the Northern Coast in Te Reinga basin.
One of the few remaining Māori Battalion veterans led the hundreds of protesters outside the Northland Regional Council's office.
Pereri Tito says, “This is eating at our hearts and we're angry that Statoil don't talk to us. Go back to your own lands! Don't come here and trample on over our authority.”
Coverage of this meeting called by Northland Regional Council's Māori Advisory Committee to seek answers and explanations from Statoil to the many questions posed by the respective hapū of this region was denied.
Statoil NZ Manager Bryn Klove says, “We have been invited by the iwi, both the iwi and their trustees representing the hapū to come up, make ourselves available, listen to their issues, address what’s on their mind and try to learn from their perspective, what they want us to be aware of.”
Statoil Vice President Hedda Felin says, “And it would be a collaboration with the authorities and the regulators on how to conduct it safely and if we come to countries where we don't feel that we have enough equipment, that would be Statoil’s responsibility to take on that risk and handle any unlikely incidents.”
Statoil say they have already attended seven tribal meetings in the north and it's only by talking face-to-face will the right hand know what the left hand is doing.
Tikirau Ata says, “They intend on taking the resources from mother earth but forget about the people of this land.”
Tohe Ashby says, “They need to listen to what our leaders are saying because we know that the majority of them don't want Statoil to drill here for fossil fuels.”
Statoil will continue their consultation with the people of the North.