Opposition against drilling growing in Taranaki
Beach protests were attended by thousands of people over the weekend sending a strong message to Anadarko and the government that there is growing opposition to deep-sea drilling and plenty of support for the Oil Free Seas Flotilla.
Even in Taranaki, the so-called 'Texas of the South Pacific', the increased public awareness around the impact of the drilling on the local and global environment has lead to protests. A beach protest in New Plymouth was attended by over 50 people on Saturday. At the same time, a hikoi led by South Taranaki Iwi Ngaruahinerangi is making its way from Parihaka to Hawera.
On Saturday, 23rd November, over 5000 people gathered at West Coast beaches in opposition to Anadarko's drilling campaign. In New Plymouth, a protest organised through social media saw 50+ people gather at Ngamotu Beach, the site of New Zealand's first ever oil well. In 1865, right in the middle of the land wars, a well struck black gold. A rally in 2011, organised by Climate Justice Taranaki, to mark the one year anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico spill drew a similar crowd. Anadarko of course had a 25% share in Deepwater Horizon. Now they are here and have apparently started drilling this morning.
On Sunday, a hikoi left Parihaka at 6am in protest against an onshore drill-site in the vicinity of the National Park. TAG Oil has recently obtained a resource consent to establish and test up to eight oil and gas exploration sites, and establish oil and gas production facilities, at Rowan Rd, Mahoe, in South Taranaki. Local hapu Ngati Haua is fiercely opposed to the drilling and has organised this hikoi. With the support of Parihaka residents, they marched to Rahotu, passed the Oanui Production station and to Opunake on the first day (25kms!). They should get to Hawera tomorrow Wednesday.
Potaua Rangitaawa, of Ngaruahine, said marching with the mountain on his left ensured he never lost sight of his goal.
"When I pass the rivers, it's the veins to our maunga, and they are breaking up our veins with the drilling," Mr Rangitaawa said. "When the drilling gets to the ocean, then it's getting to the heart of our kai moana, our seafood. We are the mountain, and the mountain is us," he said.
Waitara people showed their support with a sign at the CORSO shop on the main street.
Photo credits: Ngamotu Beach and Waitara – Fiona Clark; Hikoi – Howie Harris