Hekia knows best

23:51, Apr 11 2011
Hekia Parata
HEKIA PARATA: Acting Minister of Energy Hekia Parata looks like she's well on the way to becoming the first Maori prime minister after her defence of the government's mistreatment of her Ngati Porou people.

Acting Minister of Energy Hekia Parata looks like she's well on the way to becoming the first Maori prime minister after her defence of the government's mistreatment of her Ngati Porou people.

Ms Parata said the government was sorry for forgetting to consult her tribe after they granted Petrobras, an international giant and world leader in the development of offshore drilling and production, New Zealand's first petroleum exploration permit.

The company has been awarded a five-year permit allowing it to search for oil in the Raukumara basin off the east coast.

brownlee
RELAXED: Gerry Brownlee says he is prepared for changes to be made to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Bill.

The permit was granted last year by Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee who apologised to iwi for not consulting but made it clear that the Petrobras deal was a done deal and would go ahead.

Recently, Brownlee has been preoccupied with earthquake responsibilities in Christchurch so now Ms Parata is handling the Petrobras controversy.

The move to give the position to Ms Parata is no accident. It is both strategic and cunning.

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She is seen as a princess of Ngati Porou. The tribe has great hopes that she can become Maoridom's first prime minister so who better from National to quell the anger of the people than one of their very own. Ms Parata has no qualms with taking on the position. Her job is to point out the economic benefits for her people and this country as well as do her best to keep her people quiet.

She went to great lengths to point out the benefits to me in an interview that I did with her on Maori TV last week, but did the big sidestep when I reminded her that her chief Apirana Mahuika had condemned her government for their actions.

Mr Mahuika is an uncle to Parata, as is Amster Reedy, another prominent kaumatua of Ngati Porou, who said that the green light given to Petrobras to explore for oil was a total violation of Maori culture.

None of this bothers Ms Parata. She thinks she knows what's good for her people. Never mind what her uncles say, who are echoing what many are thinking. That is that the dangers to the environment from oil drilling are just too risky. And the tragedy off the Gulf of Mexico, where the oil drilling went tragically wrong, is a reminder that a similar catastrophe could easily happen on the east coast.

No, that's all pie in the sky stuff to Ngati Porou's princess who is clearly being driven by her political ambition rather than any principles.

Sadly the oil drilling will go ahead and Hekia's star will shine even brighter.

Auckland