Raglan Maori are threatening to issue a trespass notice on oil drilling company Anadarko nearly a week after its drillship the Noble Bob Douglas arrived in what they are claiming is customary fishing waters.
Tainui hapu environmental spokeswoman Angeline Greensill said the hapu was considering legal action after the arrival of the gargantuan drillship on Tuesday.
"They are actually within our customary fishing area of the whole west coast, so we're just contemplating going out ourselves. They need to be served notice that they are trespassing on our rohe moana (ocean boundary)."
Mrs Greensill, a former Mana Party candidate, said discussions were under way between west coast Maori on how best to to protect their traditional food source.
She complained Raglan Maori were not consulted before the Government issued Anadarko a license to prospect for oil in 1500 metres of water.
The Greenpeace sailing vessel Vega, jointly skippered by Greenpeace executive officer Bunny McDiarmid and former Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, has been occupying the drill zone since last Sunday and trying to get in the Noble Bob Douglas's way since it arrived on Tuesday.
Work still hasn't begun at the site, 110 nautical miles west of Raglan, where Anadarko spokesman Alan Seay last week expected drilling to commence on either Thursday or Friday.
Greenpeace spokesman Steve Abel claimed the Vega's proximity to the Noble Bob Douglas had stopped the work. "Our understanding of the situation technically is that they couldn't or wouldn't begin drilling with that boat in there," he said.
The flotilla had radioed the Anadarko fleet and told them they were not welcome in New Zealand waters.
Anadarko's licence began on November 15 and ends on February 14 and it is an offence for any vessel to get within 500 metres of the drillship.
Mr Abel said the flotilla was well stocked and would continue the fight for as long as it could.
"They'll run out of fresh vegetables soon but they're got plenty of cans so they won't go hungry. They've got a capability to stay out there for a long period."
But Mr Seay denied the operation, which is costing Anadarko $1 million per day, had been delayed by the Oil Free Oceans Flotilla getting in the way.
The Noble Bob Douglas expected to start drilling today, Mr Seay said.
"We're doing what we need to be doing and it's looking like tomorrow is the day we will be spudding the well," Mr Seay said yesterday.
Support for the Vega, and the flotilla, has grown in recent weeks, with around 700 people turning out for a Banners on the Beach protest at Raglan on Saturday, one of many run on the West coast of the North Island.
Kawhia tribe Ngati Hikairo attended the Raglan protest and another was held at Aotea Harbour.
More than 1000 people attended the deep sea oil protest at Auckland's Piha Beach, 400 at Muriwai Beach and 500 at Bethells Beach as the land-based demonstrators threw their support behind the protest flotilla.
"The yachts out there are really making a difference," Mrs Greensill said. "I'm just waiting for the whole thing to come to a head."
Kiwis Against Seabed Mining has seen their support base double in recent weeks and chairman Phil McCabe said the wave of opposition to mining and oil had grown.
"I think people are really discontent with this government's ramping up of the extraction agenda," said Mr McCabe.
"Everywhere people are looking, there is a new mine or oil site. The whole country has been surveyed off . . . it's not the New Zealand way to gift our land for bugger-all."
- © Fairfax NZ News
Would you like to see the development of the Hamilton Gardens fast-tracked?Related story: Hardaker aims to reinvest in Hamilton