28 Oct 2011

Iwi leaders meet to discuss oil leak

9:30 pm on 28 October 2011

Iwi leaders from Coromandel to Te Araroa near East Cape met in Tauranga on Friday to discuss how to restore waterways polluted by oil from the container ship Rena.

Ngai Te Rangi iwi chairman, Charlie Tawhiao, says the three Tauranga Moana iwi believe there are benefits in all iwi working together on such a massive job.

Mr Tawhiao says the aim is to build on the social cohesion evident during the beach clean up, to improve the chances of a quicker recovery for harbours and estauries.

He says of the iwi present at the hui, only one wants to work directly with the Government rather than with other iwi.

Leak intensifies opposition to oil exploration

Meanwhile, Ngati Porou say environmental damage caused by the Rena has magnified the East Coast iwi's concern over oil exploration in the Raukumara basin off East Cape.

The iwi chairman, Dr Apirana Mahuika, says last year's major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in iwi opposition to the Brazilian energy company Petrobras being given permission to drill in the basin.

He says the long drift of oil from the Rena, which has affected kaimoana near East Cape, has strengthened the iwi's stance against offshore drilling.

Apirana Mahuika says there's no guarantee the Government and Maritime New Zealand could cope with any oil spill in the Raukumara basin.

He says those who say the discovery of oil offshore will benefit the New Zealand economy, should consider the mana and rights of those who live on the East Coast.

Bill to set guidelines for offshore exploration

Meanwhile, the Government is reminding people to make submissions on a bill which develops better policy for oil and gas drilling offshore.

Ngai Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Mark Solomon has criticised the Government for its lack of guidelines for exploration in New Zealand waters.

Energy and Resources Acting Minister Hekia Parata says the Government has acknowledged that by introducing the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Bill.

She says the bill has been referred to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee and will be open for submissions until Parliament reconvenes in December.