Plans to drill for oil only 220 metres from the Egmont National Park boundary were described as desecration and a disgrace yesterday.
Commissioner Mick Lester was holding an independent hearing into Tag Oil's application to drill up to eight wells at 1045 Rowan Rd, Mahoe.
If oil or gas is found, Tag Oil is proposing to use the site for production purposes, with associated pipelines, for up to 30 years.
However, several iwi are opposing the application to the Stratford District Council. Ngati Haua Whanui Inc, a subsidiary of Ngaruahine, said they were not properly consulted by Tag Oil over the proposed drillings.
Omahuru Robinson, of Ngaruahine, said the mere thought that the proposal would allow the desecration of whenua, or land, to take place "at the back door" was an "absolute disgrace".
"It discredits those who advocate or have approved this application to proceed," Mr Robinson said.
"It's inconceivable to mention the region of Taranaki without immediately thinking of Mt Taranaki.
"Ngaruahine have visited the proposed site and are astounded by the proximity to our mountain."
Mr Robinson said the drilling would not be an issue if was 5000m away from the mountain.
"But this is the first time it has come so close to the mountain, and there are a lot of things they cannot quantify," he said.
Missy Spooner, of Ngati Haua, said she could not bear to think of the potential desecration of Mt Taranaki.
A teary Ms Spooner said when the mountain is desecrated, one is taking the "link out of the whakapapa, genealogy".
"During the Parihaka raid, our women and children sought shelter in Mt Taranaki," she said. "Not only do we link our genealogy to our sacred mountain, but it also gives us strength."
Community advocate Sarah Roberts, on behalf of Ngati Haua, submitted the application should be declined, the application to Stratford District Council be notified to the eight iwi, and the application to SDC for land use consent be publicly notified as the "potential adverse environmental effects are more than minor".
SDC identified nine properties that would be affected due to the noise and other effects in relation to the use, storage and transportation of hazardous substances. Ngaruahine and the Department of Conservation were among the affected. Two out of the nine affected have since submitted their written approval.
Tag Oil New Zealand country manager Randy Toone said the company was determined its activities would operate in a way that "minimises potential effects" on the environment and neighbouring landowners.
"We're committed to being good neighbours and envisage our operations continuing long term in Taranaki," he said.
Tag Oil chief operating officer Drew Cadenhead said the company would not be drilling anywhere near the park.
"We are not going anywhere near the park and there's no need to. If we are drilling for oil and gas we want to be right on the top of where we are, and will not be drilling horizontally or vertically," Mr Cadenhead said.
The hearing was adjourned as investigations continue.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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