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Parihaka says 'no' to oil and gas exploration


Letter of Position from Parihaka, Hongongoi 2011

To the United Nations, the New Zealand Ministry of Economic Development and the Crown Minerals Department, the Department of Labour, the Energy Minister, the Taranaki Regional Council, and all Companies wishing to operate or buy into Petroleum works in our environment.

Nga mihi,

We, the people of Parihaka, who are the descendants, morehu and followers of Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi who meet every month on the Raa (the 18th and 19th of every month), wish to inform you that we do not consent to the mass expansion of exploratory surveying and drilling for petroleum products in the environment of our papakainga.

1. We do not grant permission for use of our tupuna and papakainga names for the permits granted by the government, namely Tohu PEP 51149 and Parihaka PEP 51558. We find this deeply offensive to the kaupapa held by Tohu Kakahi, Te Whiti o Rongomai and the people of Parihaka. We were not consulted about this and we would like to know who, if anyone was consulted with for the use of these names.

2. We have serious concerns about the pollution of the moana, kaimoana and coastline in our environment from offshore oil spills, and the damage to marine life from the offshore seismic surveying. There are several oil and gas rigs off our coast with exploration in progress to construct many more rigs.

A large spill or continuous oil spills will seriously affect everyone's ability to use and enjoy this marine environment and badly damage the country's 'clean, green' image and the billion dollar tourism and fishing industries.

3. We are concerned about the injection of unknown and known toxic chemicals into drilling fluids and the dumping of the waste on, into and under land, by or in waterways or in underground aquifers or discharging it to the air. The regional council monitoring reports are insufficient protection because their testing does not cover all chemicals being used, it is not independent and the required safety levels of chemicals are regularly being breached without proper clean up or future preventions being put in place. The resource consents that are required are generally non-notified, despite the activities being of interest to the wider community, especially tangata whenua who have a long history and long-term commitment to settlement here. What is more the regional council deems resource consents unnecessary for seismic surveying on land despite the storage and use of explosives, unknown chemicals and dumping of drilling wastes in our communities.

The continued and increased pollution of Taranaki lands and waters will further negatively impact our communities' health and the local billion dollar farming, tourism and fishing industries on which much of the Taranaki community, and indeed much of the country, currently depends.

4. We also have grave concerns about the NZ government's granting of the permits for this massive increase in petroleum exploration in our environment. This is during the scientifically-proven onset of climate change with full knowledge that fossil fuels make up a major portion of this country's greenhouse gas emissions that are damaging the planet's atmosphere.

Climate change and peak oil have catastrophic implications for billions of people around the world and for the survival of other fauna and flora. The permits allow far too much petroleum product to be taken far too quickly for the planet to cope with and leaves little for the future well-being of our uri (offspring).

5. We fear for the drill-site and rig workers. The current speed of petroleum extraction by industry and government does not provide sufficient safety mechanisms to minimise damage to the environment and site workers. All people deserve the dignity of a safe working place. Already we have lost far too many people to the unsafe fossil fuel extraction industry and we do not want to lose any more.

Under Te Tiriti o Waitangi and He Wakaputanga o Te Rangatiratanga o Niu Tirini and the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples we retain our rights of “tino rangatiratanga” (sovereignty) over our “whenua” (lands), “kainga” (homes) and “taonga katoa” (all that we treasure). Under The Treaty of Waitangi the crown also guaranteed all Maori “exclusive and undisturbed possession of their lands and estates, forests, fisheries and other properties.”

Many waahi tapu have been damaged or destroyed in Taranaki from earth works for well sites and other activities. At least four oil spills in the last ten years have denied hapu the ability to eat their kaimoana for some period of years. All the activities in points 1 to 5 of this letter are in direct breach of the above agreements with the crown, and breach international laws of human rights by threatening surety of the necessities of life such as safe, clean drinking water and healthy food.

The ownership of many of the desired lands for drilling, including subterranean, seabed, water and airways and in particular the EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone), are or soon will undergo lengthy and expensive legal proceedings to determine treaty settlement and ownership. This will create an unstable and expensive atmosphere for any exploration or drilling companies wishing to proceed their activities in this region. Promised protests and land occupations will also disrupt activities and will call on government to decline permits.

We have had over a hundred years of petroleum exploration and production in the greater Taranaki region which has contributed to the country's economy and resource base. The activities have however caused known and unknown harm to the local and global environment. Councils and government have had the imposed governance of these areas in this time and they have failed. These petroleum resources need to be recognised under the katiakitanga and ownership of Maori to ensure their availability for the greater good of all people for all time, as we move to reduced energy consumption and renewable energy sources.

To the government, we demand that you cease the permitting of petroleum mining and exploration in our environment. To the regional council, we demand that you cease the granting of resource consents for those mining activities. To the companies, we demand that you cease your exploration and drilling activities in our environment now. We call on the United Nations to investigate these breaches of human rights and we call on our thousands of whanau and supporters nationally and internationally to oppose this current mass expansion of petroleum exploration.

Witnessed by:

Rangikotuku Rukutai, Kaitiaki o Toroanui Marae
Maata Wharehoka, Kaitiaki o Te Niho o Te Atiawa
Ruakere Hond, Kaikorero o Te Paepae o Te Raukura

[Copied to: the South Taranaki and the New Plymouth District Councils, the local MPs, PKW, TPK, the Taranaki Iwi Trust, all Taranaki Iwi hapu and/or marae, the Maori Party, the Mana Party, the Iwi Chairs Forum and the appropriate Iwi Leadership Groups, and ALL MEDIA]