Green hui at Marae

The National Government needs to be challenged over doing business which is destroying our own nest. That was the message coming from members of Greenpeace when they visited Kaikoura for a hui at Takahanga Marae last Saturday.

Greenpeace executive director Bunny McDiarmid said issues surrounding water, intensive dairying and deep sea oil drilling would need to be challenged if New Zealand was to retain its clean green image.

Also speaking at the community meeting was Greenpeace climate campaigner Steve Abel and Maori activist Mike Smith. The Rainbow Warrior was due to visit Kaikoura on the same day, but a problem with the vessel meant its arrival was delayed.

The group spoke about climate change, coastal erosion and the increased dependence on fossil fuels, all of which were concerns for New Zealand, they said. But the main focus of the korero was the fact that tenders for two off-shore blocks near Kaikoura, which the community had tried to get withdrawn from tender, were awarded to oil giant Anadarko.

The group said that the oil spill response in New Zealand was inadequate, and in the case of a potential spill from oil exploration in deep waters, the Government would need to provide response teams, rather than the oil companies. New Zealand was far worse prepared than the United States when it came to containing any spill, they said, and they suggested relief rigs could be thousands of kilometres away from any disaster here.

While the possibility of an accident was probably very minor, the consequences would be severe, they said.

Another concern, said Mike Smith, was that New Zealand would only get 5 per cent of the royalties from oil exploration but 100 per cent of the risk. The local community would be unlikely to benefit directly from oil exploration off the Kaikoura coast.

Steve Abel said New Zealand had sent a powerful message worldwide when it chose to go nuclear-free, and was still trading off this clean green image.

He questioned the need for extracting oil from beneath the seabed, and said New Zealand ought to be leading the way and looking at alternatives to fossil fuels instead.

While the topic of oil exploration has been of great interest in the Kaikoura community, there are of course two sides to every story. A representative from Anadarko and the minister of energy and resources, Phil Heatley, were due to meet at Takahanga Marae next Friday, February 8, from 2pm till 5pm. However, due to the recent cabinet reshuffle, in which Mr Heatley lost his portfolio to consumer affairs minister Simon Bridges, this will need to be reconfirmed.

The ministry had not done so at the time of going to print, but if the meeting does go ahead, the community will be invited to come and listen.

Kaikoura Star