Māori Party co-leader says Iwi should have final say on exploration in their rohe

By Te Ao Māori News

Co-leader of the Māori Party, Marama Fox says while some Iwi may disagree and not want to pursue or work with mining companies in their rohe, other Iwi may feel differently.

Marama Fox told Te Kāea, “The Māori Party is of the view that the discussion, the debate, the final decision must go back to the local iwi of that particular region. If you are asking if the Māori Party agrees with the legislation, we don't agree with any legislation that would damage the land or sea just for exploration purposes, but there are areas of the country, some groups and iwi who are open to this type of activity in their own regions as they are the guardians of their own areas.”

This follows the Government’s decision to open up almost 48,000 km² for oil and gas exploration.

Lawyer Dayle Takitimu of Te Whānau a Apanui told Te Kāea yesterday that companies were, “only here chasing money, despite knowing how precious the environment is and how much the indigenous people are against it.”

When questioned by Te Kāea about Iwi who are adamantly against any kind of exploration in their rohe Marama Fox responded, “they have the right to either agree or not with this activity so it's best to leave it up to the local iwi to discuss and sort out those issues with the Government. However, in terms of the bill, the Māori Party does not support the bill.” 

Fresh concerns also surfaced after the announcement that Chevron Oil the company which came under fire following an oil spill off the coast of Brazil three years ago was also issued exploration permits.

Chevron will also work with Statoil, a company currently carrying out their permit in Northland-Reinga despite protests over the weekend.

Haami Piripi of Te Hiku o te Ika told Te Kāea yesterday he has been keeping a close eye on Statoil.

“Statoil has agreed for us to have a man on board their ship as eyes and ears for our iwi. They've agreed to that, but it's just a start,” 

The Government says opening up the exploration in New Zealand will benefit the economy and create more employment for people in the regions. However some are sceptical as to what real benefits will filter out to the surrounding rohe.

Dayle Takitimu says, “Look at the Taranaki iwi, even though the Government has said it's bought good things to Taranaki, if you talk to the people themselves, the brown people, they haven't benefited at all from it, they've been left with nothing.”

While some disapprove of the Government's move, a launch will be held in March next year for a Block Offer.