Maori objected to Texas oil giant Anadarko's plans to drill an exploratory well off the Raglan coast as long ago as 2006 but the Government granted a drilling licence anyway.
Submissions to Crown Minerals, now New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals, obtained by Fairfax Media under the Official Information Act, show four Maori trusts raised objections in April and May 2006.
Anadarko began drilling New Zealand's deepest exploratory well in 1500 metres of water around 100 nautical miles west of Raglan on November 26 and is expected to continue into February.
Drilling began a week after a flotilla headed by Greenpeace occupied the drill site.
The Taranaki Maori Trust Board was first to object on April 3, 2006.
"The Taranaki Maori Trust Board wish to advise that they do not support the mining permit application. The board's stance remains the same as advised in previous correspondence when responding to mining permit applications that they do not support the expropriation of any resources owned by tangata whenua [people of the land]."
The Reweti Marae Trust, of Waimauku, said it objected to the application "within the context of our ancestral tribal cultural connections".
"We dispute your statement 'simply an authority to explore' because historically tangata whenua generations of Aotearoa have suffered greatly from the consequences of other such 'simple' authorisations, casually stated and implemented by other functionaries, as yourself, during an enforced colonisation and oppression of a pure land and its people."
Turangawaewae Board of Trustees, of Ngaruawahia, and Ngati Tamaoho Trust, of Papakura, both urged Crown Minerals not to issue the permit.
"Crown Minerals cannot assume to not be responsible for its actions, especially where environmental and rightful ownership is concerned for our seabed.
"Sustainability of our moana, the seabed, is the responsibility of all New Zealanders for today and, more importantly, into the future. You must decline this permit."
Tainui hapu environmental spokeswoman Angeline Greensill claims Raglan Maori were not consulted and is threatening to issue a trespass notice on Anadarko's drill ship, the Noble Bob Douglas, which she says is working in customary fishing waters.
Greenpeace lost its High Court bid on December 19 to have Anadarko's permit declared erroneous. The case was based on Anadarko's omission of annexes from the impact assessment it was required to submit to the Environmental Protection Authority.
The High Court ruled the evidence did not indicate any error by the EPA, and said there was no evidence that resubmitting the impact assessment would achieve any meaningful objective.
- © Fairfax NZ News