Tairāwhiti communities to discuss concerns over oil and gas exploration

  • North Island: East Coast

Communities across Te Tairāwhiti will meet tomorrow to address growing concerns over exploratory activities for oil and gas in the region.

Discussions will address a number of issues including Norweigan oil giant Statoil and its activities off-shore.

It has also been flagged as a prime opportunity for the wider community to hear from grassroots campaigners, as well as local and national politicians concerned about fossil fuel extraction in our oceans.

The hui follows an expression of overwhelming support from Tairāwhiti Māori for the Sioux Nation in North Dakota currently fighting the development of the Dakota Access Pipeline which would pass under the Missouri River, the water supply for millions of people in the area.

Ongoing construction of the pipeline has also damaged sites identified as sacred by the indigenous people of the area.

Organisers of the hui say, “Statoil's hunt for oil and gas will initially be conducted in seas from the top of the South Island to the Hawkes Bay, the National led government's 2016 Offshore Pegasus and East Coast Basins permit extends the exploratory area right up to Ruatoria.”

They say concern has elevated with the arrival of Statoil's ship Amazon Warrior after last Monday's devastating 7.8 magnitude.

“The Amazon Warrior will conduct seismic blasting at the ocean floor to detect oil and gas, an activity believed to disturb, injure and even kill marine life, harm commercial fisheries, and disrupt coastal economies.”

The goal of organisers is to generate the same level of opposition and political pressure towards Statoil who they say is set to prospect in Tairāwhiti waters in conjunction with American oil corporation Chevron

Ikaroa Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri and Green List MP Marama Davidson will be in attendance at the hui from 5pm to 7:30 pm tomorrow at the Ka Pai Kaiti hub.