This week John Key has been reported publicly saying “he had met with Ngati Porou and Whanau Apanui representatives last week and they had reiterated they were not opposed to progress or mining but wanted reassurance that it be done in a way that was environmentally- sustainable.”
This is utterly untrue. As an attendee at that meeting I can confirm quite the opposite was communicated to the Prime Minister on behalf of Te Whanau a Apanui and Ngati Porou. Dr Apirana Mahuika and Rikirangi Gage both spoke strongly, articulately and passionately about the opposition of both Ngati Porou and Te Whanau a Apanui to the proposed oil drilling in the Raukumara Basin. The spoke about the absolute sanctity of the environment and the very real tribal concerns for our future generations. Dr Mahuika spoke about the protections afforded by Article II of the Treaty of Waitangi, and told the Government that they were in breach of their obligations. Mr Gage accused the Government of ‘reckless disregard for the environment’ and noted the tribes’ obligation, as indigenous peoples and citizens of this country, to stand up and oppose activities that place our environment at such risk. Both reiterated that this was an environmental issue of concern to all New Zealanders.
The Prime Minister asked if Ngati Porou and Te Whanau a Apanui were opposed to mining and drilling ‘for the sake of being opposed’ or whether that opposition was based on our concerns for the environment. We confirmed that our concerns for the environment were paramount to our opposition, and these concerns were well founded, given that many of those concerns had derived, in addition to our own research, from advice we had received, on a number of occasions, from Government officials, including senior officials within the Ministry of Economic Development.
John Key had pre-emptively dismissed the worth of the meeting, by telling media earlier in the day that it was a meeting simply to ‘be polite’ rather than to take the concerns of the tribal groups seriously. Consultation that has been pre-empted in this manner is frowned upon internationally (by the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination) and domestically by the Waitangi Tribunal. In fact it is not considered ‘consultation’ at all when the Government have a predetermined position presented as a fait accompli. Accordingly the whole meeting was a farce, simply so the Government could continue to say rubbish like this in the media, under the guise of consultation.
John Key implied the opposition to deep sea oil drilling by the Ngati Porou and Te Whanau a Apanui was ill founded. He indicated that in due time the Government could show that it was environmentally sustainable. This ignores the huge body of knowledge internationally and within New Zealand that accurately describes the risks involved with such activity. The tribes are not uninformed, quite the opposite – it is the information about the environmental risks that drives the opposition, and empowers people to take a stand against the Governments’ propaganda in regards to this issue.
John Key tried to make out the opposition to deep sea oil drilling was uninformed – we had great pleasure telling him that we got some of that information from his own scientific advisors. Perhaps he ought to take their advice or opinions more seriously.
Time and time again throughout this debate we have seen the Government continue to make statements that are not factual and later need to be retracted. For John Key to make this statement shows a lack of integrity, and is mischievous; unfortunately it is the same old colonial trick of trying to create division between tribal spokespeople and the tribal population they represent that we have seen for generations.
I can assure Te Whanau a Apanui and Ngati Porou that no such statement was made by any one representing the tribes at that meeting, and that all speakers spoke clearly about the united and steadfast opposition to deep sea oil drilling. The Government can't just give us the marketing spin on this and think we're going to forget the huge risks associated with deep sea oil drilling - we stand united, we stand opposed, we stand for our mokopuna and our environment - our stance is not decided by three year election cycles - it is decided by our common heritage and our common future. The legacy of John Keys government will have been to put our environment up for sale to the highest bidder; prostitution of our pristine coastline for hollow promises of meagre profits – while the legacy of Te Whanau a Apanui and Ngati Porou will be of two peoples who stood to protect the environmental sustainability of the east coast for future generations of New Zealanders.'