6 Jun 2012

Crown says iwi was consulted over oil exploration

7:21 pm on 6 June 2012

A Crown lawyer says an eastern Bay of Plenty tribe didn't respond to a government invitation to talk about plans for oil exploration off the iwi's coast.

The defence lawyers have summed up their arguments on Wednesday in the High Court in Wellington, where a judicial review is being held into the awarding of a prospecting permit.

Greenpeace and Te Whanau a Apanui want a judge to quash a permit issued to Brazilian energy firm, Petrobras.

The lawyers for Greenpeace and the iwi argued on Tuesday that the Crown failed to adequately consult Te Whanau a Apanui.

But, a lawyer acting for the government, Una Jagose, disputes that claim.

She says government officials did make contact with Te Whanau a Apanui through an iwi lawyer, Dayle Takitimu, when the Crown was considering tenders for blocks which could be explored for oil.

Ms Jagose says the Crown contacted Te Whanau a Apanui, but the iwi told the Crown it didn't want to engage while it was negotiating with the Government over the Foreshore and Seabed.

She says the Crown did, however, send information to the tribe about the proposal of oil exploration in the Raukumara Basin, but the iwi did not respond.

Exploration complaint rejected by Crown

Lawyers for the Crown have rejected a claim that a Government minister did not consider the environment risk by giving consent for oil exploration off the east coast of the North Island.

The Government is accused by Te Whanau a Apanui and Greenpeace of issuing a permit to Petrobras without fully informing itself about the environmental risk to the Raukumara basin.

Crown lawyers reject the claim that former energy and resource minister Gerry Brownlee did not consider harm to the environment before he issued the permit.

They say his job was primarily to look at the potential of petroleum resources.

They say generally an environmental impact assessment is carried out as part of Maritime New Zealand regulations at least two months before drilling.