Tairāwhiti petition calls for halt on oil and gas activities

By Peata Melbourne
  • North Island: East Coast

A petition is on the cards to bring gas and oil activities in the East Coast region to a halt. Last night a hui was held by locals in Gisborne to raise awareness around the industry and discuss strategies moving forward for a community who largely oppose oil and gas exploration

Members from all walks of life in the East Coast region were told at a hui last night a prospecting permit has been granted for waters within an area the East Coast shares with the Wairarapa region.

Campaigner Marise Lant says, “There’s no guarantee that Statoil won't end up along this end of the echelon, the question is that right now the Tairāwhiti is dealing with a prospecting permit.”

Petroleum and Production Association New Zealand (PEPANZ) couldn't speak specifically about the permits in the East Coast but told Te Kāea today the industry has a very good environmental history in NZ.

PEPANZ CEO Cameron Maddgwick says, “The industry is committed to protecting the environment, everything we do is around reducing the risk of any incident occurring.”

But that hasn't stopped a group who are preparing a petition ready to be submitted to the Norwegian Government and Chevron.

Te Ikaroa Defending Our Waters spokesperson Tina Ngata says, “It calls upon them to halt their activity, to do all in their power as major shareholders of Statoil to halt their activities along the East Coast, and that the current activity is non-consensual.”

Chevron has secured a contract with Schlumberger New Zealand Ltd to conduct a seismic survey off the NZ East Coast.

Tairāwhiti Māori Council CEO Owen Lloyd says, “They aren't concerned about the well-being of people, they are only concerned about the money that will fill their pockets.”

MPs also attended last night's hui including Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox, Green MP Marama Davidson and Labour MP Meka Whaitiri.

Whaitiri says, “How do we resource when permits are coming out and also just look at ways how we can help those that are on the local ground that are raising awareness to this issue.”

Madgwick says, “We'd ask that the community at least consider the information from our perspective on the industry before they decide finally what their position is facing this industry.”

Submissions for the prospecting permits on the East Coast close on November 25.