A rousing karakia has marked the end of an emotional four-day hikoi for a group of tired but jubilant marchers opposing plans to drill for oil near the Egmont National Park boundary.
Ngati Haua Whanui, a subsidiary of Ngaruahine, finished the last leg of their hikoi in Hawera's CBD yesterday, having walked close to 67 kilometres since leaving Parihaka on Sunday. Close to 40 walkers hugged and congratulated each other.
The hikoi was to protest a November 13 decision permitting Tag Oil to drill for oil and gas close to Mt Taranaki.
Ngati Haua is also looking to lodge an appeal before the Environment Court.
There were only 10 marchers when the Taranaki Daily News caught up with the group on Monday, as they hiked from Pihama to Otakeho.
But numbers picked up from Manaia to Hawera, organiser Missy Spooner said.
"We started with 48 people on Sunday, and finished with 38," she said.
Ms Spooner said the hikoi was about saving the mountain.
"That's the bottom line," she said. "We are making people more aware that the mountain is for all of New Zealand."
She believed the message had seeped into the wider community.
"It's got that ripple effect - 10 people know about it and it goes on," she said.
"People keep asking us what we're marching for, and when people see us down the street, they ask us what we're doing. In simple words, we say ‘save the mountain', and they go ‘ah'."
Ms Spooner is not ruling out the possibility of a protest in front of Parliament. "Into the four winds a call has been made," she said.
Potaua Rangitaawa, of Ngaruahine, said the march was marvellous. "This is just an icing on the cake, and after this, I'd like to see the cake cooked." He said support had been positive, but there had been a few obscene gestures thrown at them.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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