Minerals key to Waikato-Tainui prosperity - MP
ELTON SMALLMAN AND AARON LEAMAN
Labour economic development and Maori affairs spokesman Shane Jones, has applauded moves by Waikato-Tainui to explore the benefits of mining for oil and minerals.
The tribe is holding an "information sharing" hui today at Hopuhopu, and has invited members of the petroleum industry, government ministries, Waikato Regional Council and the Maori Land Court to teach them more about the sector.
Mr Jones reckoned the tribe's investigations could prove a canny development.
"There is not an iwi in the country that does not want to see industry and jobs but we can't be too picky or finicky as to where we find these jobs," he said.
The issue of mining and oil exploration was shrouded with "emotionalism" but he said the decision for Maori should be made on sound science and fact.
"More often than not the factual information is hard to uncover because it is under layers of polemic."
He said New Zealand's environmental management framework was robust and would answer any environmental questions, and he called for the energy sector to work more closely with Maori.
"So that the benefits associated with their kind of economic development are not only apparent to our people but are also available to our people."
Chief executive officer Parekawhia McLean said tribal members had showed an interest in mining and minerals and wanted to know more.
"We've had feedback from our marae. They want to know more about it so we've facilitated the opportunity to bring the parties together," she said.
"With the release of our environmental management plan we believe it is important that our marae communities and our people are informed, whether it is mining, whether it is exploration, so they themselves can make a decision."
Around 60 members of the tribe have registered for the one-day hui to be held at Hopuhopu, where they will have a workshop on working with industry groups.
Overnight, Greenpeace released the findings of computer modelling of a deep sea oil spill off the Taranaki coast that would cause widespread disaster off West Coast beaches from Opononi in Northland to Taranaki - which Mr Jones has labelled a "greenwash."
Scientists in Wellington used weather data from the last decade to predict the effects of a potential blowout from deep-seas rigs in the Taranaki Basin and Canterbury Basin.
Texan oil company Anadarko was scheduled to explore in 1500 metres of water off the Raglan Coast this summer, but Greenpeace spokesman Steve Abel said the risks were too high.
"Drilling at these depths is much riskier than the shallow drilling we currently have in New Zealand," he said.
"This modelling suggests just how much of a threat deep-sea drilling could be to our values, our seas, our beaches, our way of life and our economic prosperity."
Mana Party chairwoman for Hauraki-Waikato Angeline Greensill was sceptical about the reasons behind the hui.
"It looks as if we are going to be talked at and its actually a time for taking action," she said.
She was opposed to mining until it was proven to be safe but said the hui would raise awareness for coastal hapu.
"I'm definitely in favour of anything that is going to raise awareness of what is going to happen very shortly. Already the Government is tendering every space around our coast."
Waikato mayor Allan Sanson hadn't heard news of the information hui and said if Tainui wanted to get involved in the mining industry it was up to the tribe and its members.
"Tainui's commercial arm, Tainui Group Holdings, are very prudent and very good at what they do and if they think there's an opportunity in the minerals industry . . . they would have my support if they can make it work," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News