Response from Parihaka to Oil and Gas Industry


We are the people of Parihaka, the descendants, morehu and followers of Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi who gather and continue to meet at Parihaka every month on the Rā since the 1870s.

Poutūterangi 2013

To the United Nations, Todd Energy, Cue Energy, New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals, the Ministry of Economic Development, the Department of Labour, the Energy Minister, the Taranaki Regional Council, the New Plymouth and South Taranaki District Councils and all companies holding permits or contracted to operate or profit from Petroleum works in our environment:

Ngā mihi,

We are the people of Parihaka, the descendants, morehu and followers of Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi who gather and continue to meet at Parihaka every month on the Rā since the 1870s.

In July 2011 we sent out a Statement of Position outlining our non-consent to the mass expansion of exploratory surveying and drilling for petroleum products in the environment around our papakainga and coastal reserves. This was based on five points that we wish to reiterate here again:

  1. the use of our papakainga and tupuna's names for permit blocks held by Todd Energy is without our consent and for an activity in direct contrast with our tikanga
  2. We have serious concerns about pollution of our coastline and moana from yet another oil spill, dumping of offshore drilling waste and seismic surveying
  3. We have serious concerns about pollution of land, water, air and aquifers from onshore drilling, disposal of associated wastes, seismic surveying and transportation and storage of hazardous substances such as explosives and drilling additives.
  4. We have grave concerns around the continued and accelerated extraction of fossil fuels and it's impact on the entire world through pollution and climate change
  5. We have serious concerns for the safety of the drill-site workers and those who transport the hazardous wastes, and especially for those communities who endure the increased traffic, noise, light, threat of well blow-outs and have the wastes dumped in their environment.

We recently discovered that Todd Energy and Cue Energy have removed the names of Tohu and Parihaka from the two aforementioned permit blocks. While we welcome this, Todd and Cue did not come to our table to discuss the matter. Replacement with the names Te Kiri and Kanuka does not appear to have been in consultation with iwi or hapu either. This is not acceptable behaviour.

We welcome Todd and Cue's surrender of the Tohu and Pungarehu leads in the now labelled 'Te Kiri PEP 51149' permit block within which we reside. We however strongly request surrender of the entire permit block and thorough decommissioning of all drilled wells and clean up of those well sites and any dumping grounds associated with them.

In light of these changes, this letter of Response is to reiterate our stance in opposition to these fossil fuel exploration and extraction activities onshore and offshore, especially around our papakainga and coastal reserves.

While there may be short term benefits from petroleum for some, the long-term effects are detrimental to local communities and the world as a whole. Continuing fossil fuel extraction is no longer socially acceptable in the light of these very serious problems. We must all transition to sustainable living now.

We remind you also that 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.” All the activities in the five points of this letter are in direct breach of these agreements with the crown. Many wāhi 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 damaged the ecosystem and denied hapu the ability to eat kaimoana in their rohe for some period of years. The activities also breach international laws of human rights by threatening surety of the necessities of life such as safe, clean drinking water and healthy food. They also breach international laws of the seas which protect these fragile and dwindling ecosystems. They surely breach international agreements around prevention of climate change.

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. Councils and government have had the imposed governance of these areas in this time and they have failed to protect the people and environment sufficiently, instead leaving communities subject to company non-disclosure (silencing) orders in return for minimal compensation when things go wrong. We still do not know the true extent of the damages from this industry as the industry is left to monitor itself in most instances. Meanwhile at least one local community in a drilling zone has the highest cancer rate in the country. This is especially worrying as resources dwindle and extraction techniques become more and more dangerous.

To the government: we suggest you cease the permitting of petroleum mining and exploration in our environment. To the regional and district councils: we suggest you cease the granting of resource consents for those mining activities. To the companies: we suggest you cease exploration, extraction and investment in drilling in our environment now.

We call on the United Nations to investigate these breaches of human rights and we call on our thousands of whānau and supporters nationally and internationally to join us in opposing this current mass expansion of petroleum exploration.

Witnessed by:

Rangikotuku Rukuwai, Kaitiaki o Toroānui Marae Maata Wharehoka, Kaitiaki o Te Niho o Te Atiawa Ruakere Hond, Kaikorero o Te Paepae o Te Raukura


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