Protest highlights petroleum exploration concerns in NZ

By Harata Brown
  • Northland

Te Rarawa Chairman Haami Piripi says the iwi is looking to conduct direct negotiations with oil companies.

This follows the government's announcement that it will be offering five off-shore and on-shore blocks for petroleum exploration at the petroleum conference in Auckland today.

Petroleum exploration is a heated topic, with Te Rarawa already having an established relationship with oil company, Statoil. Their Chairman says they will have to resort to that tactic again.

"If the government continues with their plans, it's only right that we continue talking with companies who are successful in obtaining (petroleum exploration) licenses", says Haami Piripi, Chairman of Te Runanga o Te Rarawa.

Mr Piripi's comments come as police shut down a protest blockade outside Sky City's convention centre in central Auckland, where a petroleum industry conference was being held.

Protester Stacey Porter says, “(The protest) was very successful because at the start of the meeting, many of the attendees were outside waiting, trying to find a way in.” 

Protesters arrived at daybreak, hoping to block the doors.

That, however, didn't deter the government from its plans, with the Minister of Energy Simon Bridges inviting new tenders for petroleum exploration off the coasts of Cape Reinga, Taranaki, East Coast, North Island and the south east coast of the South Island and on-shore in Taranaki.

Climate Campaigner for Greenpeace, Steve Abel says, “A number of iwi and regional councillors explicitally said that they didnt want their area of ocean opened up, to deep sea drilling, and Simon Bridges has this morning, ignored that.”

Catherine Murupaenga-Ikenn of Ngāti Kurī and Te Rarawa says, “If no one is going to save our planet, then who will, and fossil fuels as we know is a primary contributor to climate crisis. It's not change, it's happening now and it's a crisis."

Nearly 60 people were issued trespass orders but Mr Abel says they'll be back next year.

Furthermore, the petroleum industry has more than five months to prepare their bids for the block offer which closes on September 9.